||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (February 2013)|
Multiboxing is a term used mostly in MMORPGs to refer to playing as multiple separate characters simultaneously. This can either be achieved by using multiple separate machines to run the game or by running multiple separate instances of the game.
Variations on the term are common. Often, the number of accounts used is reflected in the term used: dual-boxing or two-boxing for two characters, three-boxing for three etc. Less generally, the term hydra has been used to describe multiboxing, after the many-headed serpent from Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra.
Reasons for use
Multiboxing is done for several reasons. People may enjoy the additional challenge it can bring, as well as being able to tackle more difficult monsters by themselves. Sometimes it is a matter of convenience, having permanent access to a character that can buff, heal or resurrect the main character.
Overall, Multiboxing can be considered a play style choice. Many people find the additional strategy of multiboxing to be very challenging and, with those additional efforts, very rewarding. Rather than require the collaboration and cooperation of multiple human players, people who multibox instead rely upon themselves to control multiple game characters and utilize their own abilities as a replacement for human cooperation.
While multiboxing, the player does not necessarily have to spend time looking for a group to join in an adventure with, but rather can repeatedly participate in content without the risk of someone leaving in the middle of the encounter.
Multiboxing may be as simple as running two instances of the game on one computer (each logged into a separate account) and switching between them. Players may also use multiple computers, each with their own keyboard and mouse. This quickly becomes impractical with an increasing number of computers, so a keyboard demultiplexer may be used, which sends the signals from a single keyboard to several computers.
Software tools include programs which can simulate keyboard multiplexing by sending keystrokes to different instances of the game simultaneously, or across networks. Voice command software can also be used.
Often, heavy use is made of the macros built into the game's default interface. This allows more complex instructions to be issued with a single keypress. Examples include targeting a certain character and healing them, or firing a spell at another character's target.
Examples of multiboxing
When multiboxing with five characters, one computer and two displays, the player can have one game-instance in full-screen mode on display #1 and split display #2 between the remaining four. Usually with the press of a button the "focus display" is changed, so that greater control of any character can be achieved, in case one of them dies, for example.
Multiboxing software may include a variety of features designed to enhance multiboxing, such as:
- Window management
- Keyboard and mouse broadcasting between game windows and/or PCs
- Key mapping and other input device mapping
- Graphical overlays (interactive and non-interactive)
- Game configuration and macro management
- CPU and GPU management, e.g. to best utilize multiple CPU cores or GPUs
Some examples of multiboxing software products available today:
- EQPlayNice, free or paid, provides framerate limiting for EverQuest
- HotkeyNet is free, programmable multiboxing software, featuring window management and broadcasting features
- ISBoxer is commercial multiboxing software that provides the full range of multiboxing software functionality including window management, key mapping, graphical overlays and video from other windows, and World of Warcraft macro management. ISBoxer supports most MMORPGs that allow multiboxing
- PwnBoxer is commercial multiboxing software geared toward World of Warcraft, featuring window management, broadcasting and World of Warcraft game configuration tools
- WinEQ 2, free or paid, provides window management, game configuration, and CPU management. WinEQ 2 is primarily geared toward EverQuest
Compatibility with Game Rules
Multiboxing is generally allowed by MMORPG End User License Agreements, because the characters are still subject to all the normal rules of the game world and are controlled by the player directly. This is in contrast to bots that partially or fully control the characters, which are against the terms of service of most online games.
Most MMORPGs only allow a single character per account to be logged in at once, so multi-boxers need a separate account for each character they want to play simultaneously. In subscription based services, this means paying multiple monthly fees, and buying several copies of game expansions. However, with trial accounts, multiboxing for free is possible. Using World of Warcraft: Starter Edition is one example which has unlimited play for free, albeit with certain in-game limitations surrounding maximum level, currency accrual, etc.
Most game developers allow multiboxing in their games. To date, Age of Conan, Aion, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Heroes of Newerth, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lineage, Lineage II, Ultima Online, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Warhammer Online and World of Warcraft all allow multiboxing. The Chronicles of Spellborn and Rift allow hardware multiboxing, but prohibit software multiboxing. Game publishers do not provide technical support for multiboxing, so while it may be allowed, you may find certain games are not designed to be multiboxed. 
However, not all games condone multiboxing. Generally, a rule states that a player can only have one account from an IP address logged on at once. This is usually implemented to keep people from trading items that are limited per day to themselves. Games that do not allow a player to have more than one character at a time include Immortal Night and RuneScape.
- "Multiboxing FAQ for Non-Multiboxers". Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "Dual-boxing.com wiki Macro category". Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "World of Warcraft Terms of Service (Section 4b)". Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- "WoWMultiboxing.com Blog World of Warcraft Starter Edition = Excellent". Retrieved 2011-07-20.
- "Dual-boxing.com wiki WoW GM Conversations". Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- "Dual-boxing.com Forums Multiboxing and Current MMOs". Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- "Multiboxing.com" A multi-boxing forum mainly geared toward PwnBoxer support and World of Warcraft
- "Dual-Boxing.com: A site for multiboxers." A multi-boxing forum containing macros for a number of MMORPGs and various software guides. Includes a multi-boxing wiki.
- "Multiboxing EverQuest: One Player, Many Characters" article at Extremetech.com