Everyone has heard of MMORPGs at some point. But have you ever heard of such a video game disregarding the genre’s essential rule?

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games began modestly as text-based titles (MUD). The first video game of this genre was developed by Roy Mercer and Richard Bartle in 1978 – and they certainly had no idea how the concept would grow in the forthcoming future.

Players eagerly join servers to play heroic characters, make friends, slay mythical monsters, level up, explore, and acquire better equipment. But what if none of that mattered? Because in Progress Quest, it doesn’t.

What is Progress Quest?

It is your classic MMORPG with one catch – you can’t play it. This game plays itself and doesn’t require your interaction at all. All you have to do is watch what happens on the screen or leave your desk and do something else. With such unique gameplay rules, PQ inspired the Parody MMO genre, as it is a brilliant satire of many famous titles, including Dungeons & Dragons.

History

Some people say only comedy can save us, and that’s probably what Eric Fredricksen was thinking about creating a Progress game. In a world overflowing with titles involving heroic knights and epic battles, he found the will (and undoubted courage) to do something different. But first, he decided to learn what annoys MMO players the most. It was continuous progress – killing monsters, selling goods, buying better equipment, and completing quests.

So, in 2002, Fredricksen released a game that players can’t interact with at all. No more grinding! Unsurprisingly, gamers instantly loved the idea and flooded the internet with fake reviews, including nothing but the best scores and enthusiastic reception. Soon, there were rumors about gold, platinum, or diamond DVDs of the game with better 3D graphics, and the title became incredibly famous. Even Todd Howard from Bethesda Studios admitted that Fredricksen’s game inspired Fallout Shelter.

The Gameplay Mechanics (or Lack Thereof!)

So what can we do with a video game we can’t play? Admire! PQ is a true mocking masterpiece. The game starts with setting up a character where you can create a name, choose a race and class, and roll on statistics. The available races include fantastic options like Half-Man, Double Hobbit, Talking Pony, Eel Man, Panda Man, Double Wookie, and more.

There’s plenty to choose from! But the real fun starts at classes. Robot Monk, Voodoo Princess, Puma Burglar, Slow Poisoner, or Bastard Lunatic represent intriguing options revealing your profession preferences.

What’s next? The game starts, and your character embarks on a grand adventure to achieve everything alone. It’s a classic zero-player experience where you’re solely the spectator when your hero levels up.

The World and Quests

What about the plot? There are six realms: Pemptus, Spoltog, Alpaquil, Knoram, Oobag, and Expodrine.

As the beginning of the game’s official description says: ‘Since time before time, the Vorlak had held the Crosshutch at Thraeskamp.’ But that doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t really affect your progress.

Auto adventures are visible in the loading bar at the bottom of the window, and the rest of it reveals specific details like character stats, equipment, inventory, gold, and plot development. It’s all text, of course, as such an excellent game doesn’t need any graphics.

You will quickly notice it mocks standard RPGs like Ever Quest. The names of locations, items, enemies, and weapons make absolutely no sense. Don’t believe it? Wait until you go to the killing fields to exterminate Billy Goats with a sharp stick.

Comparing the Progress game with Traditional MMORPGs

MMORPGs are all about character development, earning currency, acquiring better equipment, interacting with other players, or fighting countless enemies. Progress game provides one of those things – interaction with others.

Players can create and join guilds. But other than that, everything happens automatically, and none of the above counts as a direct gameplay experience. It is an example of a perfect contrast to the classic MMORPG rules because the creator of this game took from us the whole point of playing in general.

The Future of Parody Gaming

History knows more extraordinary cases of zero-player video games focusing on other objectives than those offered in PQ. Like Godville – an MMORPG in which players play a God observing the complex life of a completely self-sufficient hero. Or the indie Mountain game from 2014, where players answer a few fundamental questions to get a majestic mountain generated especially for them and watch the seasons pass.

That’s quite a beautiful recommendation! And there are still more like Dreeps, Clickpocalypse 2, or Cookie Clicker. Zero-player games are still a thing, featuring different objectives, with the most important being detailed in this article’s conclusion.

Conclusion

Why make a game that doesn’t need a player at all? Does it exist merely for fun or something more? You may not like the answer, but it’s true. To level up in a classic MMORPG, you have to click all those mundane activities, while in PQ, they happen automatically. Sure, we like to click – that’s the entire point of playing. But it turns out that some video games don’t need us as much as we thought. So, is this level number worth the effort?

Progress game lets you leave your desk and do other things – visit your mom, enjoy a walk, work, or see your favorite band at the local bar. In the meantime, the level is still advancing, and you can be content with this incredibly high digital number. But are you? This way, parody video games explain that your existence doesn’t matter to their digital worlds. But it matters to other things happening somewhere else.