A mob, short for mobile, is a computer-controlled non-player character (NPC) in a computer game such as an MMORPG or MUD. Depending on context, every and any such characters in a game may be considered to be a "mob," or usage of the term may be limited to hostile NPCs and/or NPCs vulnerable to attack. Common usage refers to either a single character or a multitude of characters in a group as a mob.
In most modern graphical games, "mob" may be used to specifically refer to generic monstrous NPCs that the player is expected to hunt and kill, excluding NPCs that engage in dialog, sell items, or NPCs which cannot be attacked. "Named mobs" are distinguished by having a proper name rather than being referred to by a general type ("a goblin," "a citizen," etc.). "Dumb mobs" are those capable of no complex behaviors beyond attacking or moving around.
Purpose of mobs
Defeating mobs may be required to gather experience points, money, items, or to complete quests. Combat between player characters (PCs) and mobs is called player versus environment (PvE). PCs may also attack mobs because they aggressively attack PCs. Monster versus monster (MvM) battles also take place in some games.
A game world might contain hundreds of different kinds of mobs, but if players spend a certain amount of time playing, they might become well aware of the characteristics presented by each kind and its related hazard. This knowledge might dull the game to some extent.
Origin of the term
The term "mob" is short for "mobile," which was used by Richard Bartle for objects that were self-mobile in MUD1. The term as it exists in MMORPGs is derived from the MUD usage. (Source code in DikuMUD uses the term "mob" to refer to a generic NPC; DikuMUD was a heavy influence on EverQuest.) The term is properly an abbreviation rather than an acronym, but backronyms for "MOB" such as "mobile object," "monster or beast," "mere ordinary beast" and "mean old bastard" have also been coined.
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 102. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
What's more of an issue is the presence in the virtual world of virtual creatures. These are commonly known as mobiles30 (mobs for short), and they represent the monsters and non-player characters who inhabit the virtual world. [...] 30From MUD1, "mobile objects." I called them that because creatures moving in a controlled but unpredictable way are like the kind of "mobiles" that hang from ceilings. Well, I was in kind of a hurry...
- Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 93–94. ISBN 0-471-11633-5.
One of the major types of objects that you will encounter on a Mud is the mobile. A mob (pronounced MOHb, not MAWb), or mobile, is a computer controlled creature. [...] If a mob is not friendly, it is known as an agg or aggressive mobile. It will hit you at the first opportunity, even the instant you walk into a room. A majority of Muds have dumb mobs. A dumb mob will fight you until you kill it or flee from it.
- Maloni, Kelly; Baker, Derek; Wice, Nathaniel (1994). Net Games. Random House / Michael Wolff & Company, Inc. p. 213. ISBN 0-679-75592-6.
mob or mobile ..... a monster in the game
- Towers, J. Tarin; Badertscher, Ken; Cunningham, Wayne; Buskirk, Laura (1996). Yahoo! Wild Web Rides. IDG Books Worldwide Inc. p. 140. ISBN 0-7645-7003-X.
mob = mobile (This is jargon for a monster or creature.)
- Hecht, Eliah (2007-02-20). "The compleat WoW abbreviations". WoW Insider. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
Mob: Short for "mobile" (derived from MUDs, where any NPC was either a stationary shopkeeper or mobile; see WoWWiki), this refers in WoW to NPCs, primarily NPCs that are meant to be killed.
- Poisso, Lisa (2009-06-08). "WoW Rookie: Rares, elites and nameds". WoW Insider. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
Named mobs are just that: monsters that have names.
- Carton, Sean (1995). Internet Virtual Worlds Quick Tour. Ventana Press. p. 175. ISBN 1-56604-222-4.
Mob A slang term for "mobiles" or monsters on a virtual world. Monsters are non-player characters who roam the world. Often, players reach a higher level by fighting and killing monsters.
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 301. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
One consequence of this is that quest rewards and mobile drops should be variable, too. Who'd want to risk life and limb for 20,000 UOC if it wasn't enough to buy an arrow? Yet how do designers make these price rises occur rationally in such a way that unscrupulous players can't screw over the system?
- Busey, Andrew (1995). Secrets of the MUD Wizards. SAMS Publishing. p. 295. ISBN 0-672-30723-5.
Monsters keep players on the go for experience and weapons.
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 649. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
In the big city, you're asked to deliver bread; in the frontier town, you're asked to kill bandits. Can you stand the heat, or do you get out of the kitchen? By giving players harder quests in rougher areas, designers inform them that these are tougher areas.
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 406. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
Player versus Environment (PvE). Players are opposed by the environment—that is, the virtual world. In a combat situation, this means player characters (PCs) fight monsters.
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 103. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
Consider a second goblin raiding party. It emerges from its camp, kills some villagers' sheep, and then returns home with the spoils. The villagers get angry and offer to pay players to kill the goblins.
- Guarneri, Andrea; Maggiorini, Dario; Ripamonti, Laura A.; Trubian, Marco (2013). GOLEM: Generator Of Life Embedded into MMOs (PDF). Università di Milano. p. 585.
In spite of the fact that a game world can contain hundreds of different species of monsters, after spending a certain amount of time playing, players become well aware of the characteristics presented by each specie and its related hazard. In the long run, this knowledge has the drawback of generating a certain amount of boredom in players, which lose the thrill of braving unfamiliar dangers (Koster, 2004).
- "mobact.c, Mobile action module". DikuMUD Alfa. MUDBytes. 1991. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 25. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
If ever there was a case of being in the right place at the right time, EverQuest (EQ) is it. It was basically a DikuMUD with a graphical client bolted on—the similarities are so close that under legal threat its server programmers were forced to sign sworn statements to the effect that they didn't use any actual DikuMUD code in EverQuest.