|Platform||Windows  |
|Release Date||2003 |
MapleStory is an online, two-dimensional game developed by Nexon. The game incorporates the standard features of a Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMOPRG). Users are mainly attracted by cartoon-like monsters and avatars that they can customize and display to other players. These customizations are seen through the diversification of skills and classes and additionally through the choices of weapons and armaments. Objectives are variable and flexible, where players perform quests and battle monsters to level up. Social interaction is a major component in the game through trading, group quests and even online-marriages. Throughout the active years of MapleStory, several ethical issues concerning anonymity, relationships, in-game cheating, racism and addiction arises from its players.
Maplestory was originally developed by a company called Wizet.  After Nexon bought Wizet, the game was further developed and was eventually released to the public in 2003.  Due to some setbacks, the game underwent more changes in order to further develop in order to be relaunched in 2010 with the "Big Bang Update".  The Big Bang was one of the biggest update for this game, with a new experience curve, skill rebalancing, and a new map.  As of May 2011, Maplestory has over eight million registered accounts, and over 24 million character creations worldwide. The concurrent online player base reached a peak of 136,000 in North America alone . Additionally, Maplestory has been adapted into a trading card game, single-player game for iOS and Nintendo DS as well as a Japanese animation series .
The framework of MapleStory is loosely based on a hero-villain narrative with the antagonist “The Black Mage” and protagonist team composed of five heroes. . These heroes are currently frozen in magical ice for the time period the players are playing in. 
Gameplay and functionality is controlled by the user's keyboard. This includes the characters' movement, interactions with other players and the environment, and development of skills.  The majority of the game is focused on the character itself. A character can be equipped with several items. The most basic ones have armors and accessories, whereas wealthier players can afford pets, more valuables and "mounts". Skills are chosen by the user once the character levels up (this can be done by attacking monsters to gain experience points). Skills are contributed by gaining points and allocating those points to specific skillsets, which are automatically given every time the character levels. Three skill points are given per level, and are associated with the level of one's job, while five ability points are given per level and are used to improve the character's stats (i.e. strength, dexterity, intelligence, luck, heath, mana).
MapleStory characters are made up of four major branches of heroes to first launch: explorer, cygnus knight, hero and resistance. As players level up, he/she has the options of selecting certain skills that will result in different class differentiation and skillsets from other players within the same branch.  All classes contain their respective strengths and weaknesses, which will influence the difficulty and popularity in playing the particular class. All the available classes can be found on its online website. The format of this game consists of multiple servers that are exact replicas of the MapleWorld. Each server is further divided into channels to account for the substantial population of participants it holds today.  
The game is free, since players earn mesos (MapleStory money) by defeating monsters and by trading. In the game, there is an area called the "Free Market" that allows players to trade most in-game items besides money. Much of the game's economy is based off of the stability of the "Free Market." Nexon also included an in-game shop called “Cash Shop” where the currency called NX is used. NX (Nexon Cash) is purchased with real money and is similar to a gift card. They are available in most retail stores. Items bought from Cash Shop are restricted from trade in the game. Additionally, trading NX between players is also restricted, determined by the game designers, though some users trade Mesos for NX by giving the code of the gift card in return for the monetary compensation. This Free Market trade requires trust, and therefore remains as a risk to all players who engage in this activity.  The Cash Shop features more desirable and custom clothing, pets and other virtual accessories that players can purchase for their avatars.
As with most MMOPRG games, players are given the privilege of anonymity during their in-game experience. This allows a life away from responsibility related to social standards and norms. Individuals are able to fabricate their identities according to their preferences. Multiple players and accounts allow repeated opportunities to restart their social interactions in the game, if one is unsatisfied with the previous experience. However, the issue that arises from this freedom is a lack of trust among players in the game (though some discretion can be applied to this statement). As with most online community comes the game’s warnings of unadvisable players who do not cooperate positively among the community.  This has been a primary concern among games that uses generated avatars as substitute icons of their real life players.
Marriage and Relationships
MapleStory allows for characters to get into relationships and actually get married in the game. There are many ethical concerns that could arise from this. For one, there are many characters that could trick others that they are really "in love" but really just do it for the money and items. While people could believe that this is just a game and no one could get hurt from this, some might really feel betrayed and could lead to serious repercussions.
Throughout the history of MapleStory, many instances of cheating have been exploited. These cheats range from exploits of traditional game mechanics, social exploits of other players, exploits of bugs within the game's code, and exploits involving the modification of original game files.
“Botting” is a key issue faced by the MapleStory community. Botting is using a system or program developed by another individual(s) interaction with the game without the involvement of a human player. This cheating methodology can be used to gain money, level up a character, or obtain certain rare items that usually take hours to attain when the game is manually played.  Nexon has responded to this issue by running several server checks to fix this issue;  however, individuals have also succeeded in updating their bots or creating new ones to adjust to these security updates.
Hacking is another primary issue that interferes with the regulations of the game. Principally, hackers gain access into accounts other than their own to take rare items or equipment so that the other players have no means of regaining their objects back. Hacking, unlike botting, can directly involve another player into the offense and consequently bring disunity among the players in Maplestory. Nexon has responded to this concern with a special page detailing instructions and precautions for users to take with their accounts and their private information.  Not all cases of hacking can be resolved cleanly. Sometimes, items cannot be compensated due to the large number of hacking cases and the complexity of each case. MapleStory community has responded negatively towards the slow response from the administration and caused many players to quit playing the game.
Multiple users in MapleStory resort to scamming to try and trick new players into giving them their items or mesos. This can be done through a number of ways. Most either deal with bugs that come with opening the trade screen, or ways in which the game forces you to drop an item when you do a certain action. Some characters, such as the wizard, use the teleporting skill to steal items when tricking other users to drop them. Scamming is very common in MapleStory, as it is in other games.
Farming on MapleStory follows a similar format of online farming for most MMORPGs. Players spend majority of their game time collecting gold or popular game items to sell for profit.  "Gold farming" is a popular practice among MapleStory players in which these mesos can be traded through payment of real money. Coupled with botting, players can obtain mesos without much physical or mental effort. Supporters reinforce the idea that paying money for a menial, respective task of killing monsters for gold is a fair trade-off. However, many see this venture as cheating, especially coupled with a computer program that can perform this task automatically.
Spamming is a smaller issue, but nonetheless disturbs the game experience of other individuals. When spamming escalates beyond just one player, the game's functionality can slow down significantly, and the entire game may crash. The time spent re-logging not only frustrates individuals on a level of inconvenience, but can also frustrate players who were in the midst of a quest or trading process. In addition, a unique violation can be made when the server crashes. During a deliberate trade setup and an equipment is being traded among one individual to another, a server crash is induced to duplicate the item. This violation is called “duping” or as Nexon defines it- glitching. Duping benefits both individuals since no players suffer negative setbacks. However, it allows other players to suffer from the induced server crash, which is why it’s a sever violation among the Nexon game rules.
The Policies and Agreements page of the MapleStory website outlines some of the potential ethical problems that users encounter in the game. The website states, "Please abide by our rules and regulations, the golden rules being 'Treat others with respect' and 'Don't cheat'".  The website goes on to state, "When you become a part of the Nexon community, you are joining millions of players worldwide. We understand that with a large player base, disputes and misunderstandings can arise from time to time; however, our in-game/online staff will do their best to resolve these as they happen. Please refrain from instigating incidents or retaliatory action during game play and online message board activity."
Lisa Nakamura argues that racism in MMORPGs takes the form of enlightened racism, which is defined as racist behavior or speech exhibited by those who assume themselves not to be racist. Nakamura makes the claim that as players that the humor and mindset in enlightened racism is in “not meaning it.”  On Maplestory forums, players have shared experiences of harassment for their characters’ dark skin. In one instance, a player stated, “I get whispers often of people telling me why I'm black, calling me 'blacky' or defaming me for having that tan skin on MS.” 
A trending issue among Maplestory is the addiction towards the game. Since the game requires leveling of characters, players have to physically spend hours defeating monsters to gain the XP points to reach the next level. This leveling up and training is usually brought on by the same task of pressing the same button over and over again, but the simple idea of leveling up and finding loot is still addicting to countless users. Addiction towards the game can cause a sway from the player’s offline life into a life focused solely on being “online” and living through the eyes of a character. Sometimes, it is not caused by the competitive drive, but by a strong social bonding with one’s online community.  This can significantly alter a player’s view on reality and the virtual world. The Cash Shop presents a predicament of stealing or spending an inordinate amount of money on purchases that are not really necessary in the game, but presents it conformity appeal in the community. 
- ↑ Maplestory "Platform" http://maplestory.nexon.net/support/game-download
- ↑ Wikipedia. "Nexon Co. Ltd." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nexon_America
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Wikipedia. "MapleStory" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MapleStory
- ↑ Basil. "History of Maplestory, Nexon, and Wizet" http://www.basilmarket.com/forum/2512240/0/History_of_Maplestory_Nexon_and_Wizet.html
- ↑ MapleStory Community Page. http://maplestory.nexon.net/community/maple-articles/dev-blog/00ELz/dev-blog-big-bang-countdown?page=2
- ↑ "GAME GROUP PLC (THE) (GGOPF) MapleStory Tops Eight Million Users, Six Years", Christophor Rick, 6 May 2011 gamersdailynews.com
- ↑ Wikipedia: Maple Stor History
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 MapleStory Guide Page. http://maplestory.nexon.net/guides/what-is-maplestory
- ↑ Maplestory Controls. http://maplestory.nexon.net/guides/game-play/controls
- ↑ MapleSTory Faqs. http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/924697-maplestory/faqs/49613
- ↑ wikiHow "How to Pick a Job in Maplestory" http://www.wikihow.com/Pick-a-Job-in-Maplestory
- ↑ MapleStory. "Dev Blog -- MapleStory Then and Now" http://maplestory.nexon.net/community/maple-articles/dev-blog/00EKm/dev-blog-maplestory-then-and-now?page=2
- ↑ MapleStory Cash Shop Guide. http://maplestory.nexon.net/shop/cash-shop-guide/get-started
- ↑ MapleStory User Abuse Page. http://maplestory.nexon.net/support/user-abuse/user-abuse-policy
- ↑ MapleSEA Botting. http://maple.asiasoftsea.com/policy/botting/
- ↑ MapleStory Maintenance. http://maplestory.nexon.net/news/maintenance/announcements/00Ewq/maintenance-vs-game-updates
- ↑ MapleSEA Hacking. http://maple.asiasoftsea.com/policy/hacking/
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 BBC News. "The business end of playing games" http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6592335.stm
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Nexon: User Abuse Policy
- ↑ "Enlightened Racism in MMORPGs" Daniels, Jessie http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2010/06/19/enlightened-racism-mmorpg/
- ↑ "Racism on Maplestory" http://www.basilmarket.com/Racism-on-MapleStory-Thread-b5Bg1-1
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 OLGA. http://www.olganon.org/?q=node/21932