Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are identified as valuable arenas for language learning, as they provide access to contexts and types of interaction that are held to be beneficial in second language acquisition research. This paper will describe the development and key features of these games, and explore claims made regarding their value as environments for language learning. The discussion will then examine current research. This is followed by an analysis of the findings from an experimental qualitative study that investigates the interaction and attitudes of Japanese English as a foreign language learners who participated in MMORPG-based game play. The analysis draws attention to the challenging nature of the communication environment and the need for learner training. The findings indicate that system management issues, proficiency levels, the operation of affective factors, and prior gaming experiences appeared to influence participation. The data shows that for the intermediate learners who were novice users, the interplay of these factors appeared to restrict opportunities to engage in beneficial forms of interaction. In a positive finding, it was found that the intermediate and advanced level participants effectively utilized both adaptive and transfer discourse management strategies. Analysis reveals they took the lead in managing their discourse, and actively engaged in collaborative social interaction involving dialog in the target language. Participant feedback suggests that real time computer-based nature of the interaction provided benefits. These include access to an engaging social context, enjoyment, exposure to new vocabulary, reduced anxiety, and valuable opportunities to practice using a foreign language. This paper concludes by identifying areas of interest for future research.