[GAME MASTER]Maple StoryIt’s summer and your son has been pestering you about getting a PlayStation or Xbox console. You admit it’s hard to find excuses that will register in the young child’s mind, especially since he claims that “everyone else” has one.
But then you think of all the time he’s going to spend using weapons of mass destruction and taking pleasure in blowing people and aliens to bits and pieces and you fall into the dilemma that every parent has.
So here’s some good news for parents: Maple Story, an online arcade-adventure game targeted for elementary school students, is a harmless, Super Mario-style game with plenty of cute graphics. Even more, it’s free and there is an English version.
Maple Story first began commercial service in 2002, and has been extremely popular among youngsters and teenagers. It was so popular that a comic book was made based on episodes in the game.
Basically, the game is, as mentioned above, a very simple arcade game. You start out as a young adventurer, going into forests to kill hopping mushrooms, green blobs with smiley faces, and flying pigs.
When you reach a certain level, you may leave the tiny island that you started out on and travel to the mainland, where there are several cities, caves, forests and the like where you can ferret out more “monsters.”
In the process, you can also select an occupation, and hone your skills by performing quests, or missions. In the early stage, missions can be as easy as delivering someone’s letter to another person, and other petty errands. These develop into more difficult, time-consuming quests that involve hunting dozens of mushrooms or snails and collecting their droppings, since “monsters” usually leave something behind for you to collect when they die.
Not only do these creatures leave behind their body parts (such as snail shells or mushroom spores), they also leave clothing and weapons.
Although this sounds no different from the early Mario games, Maple Story takes on the characteristics of online game playing, so you are almost never alone. On the same screen, you will see at least one or two players performing similar tasks. You can choose to chat with other players online and form temporary “parties” to perform certain quests.
This game may become tedious, since one has to kill hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of monsters in order to reach the topmost character level of 110.
This will take an average person who plays one or two hours a day at least several months. But for parents who are budget constrained, it is all the better.
You may want to know, however, that since so many young people play the game, sometimes their game playing intentions go beyond electronic entertainment.
You will find children seeking friends, girlfriends and boyfriends through online messages that run along the bottom of the screen. Apparently, those who do not have “real” friends of the opposite sex enjoy a cyber “relationship” on Maple Story.
It may be weird to encourage such online relationships, but then, at least you know that the most they can do online is hunt mushrooms together.
Perhaps Maple Story is reviving traditional courting methods, where chivalry, good manners and a slick tongue are highly attractive qualities.
By Wohn Dong-hee