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Byline: Kim Peterson
May 8--The annual Electronics Entertainment Expo rolls into Los Angeles this week, and you're going to hear a lot of talk about dazzling, expensive new video-game consoles competing for living-room space.
But even as these machines hit the market, the gaming industry is suddenly renewing its interest in a less-glamorous segment: the massively multiplayer games for the personal computer.
These games offer vast, online fantasy worlds where players can talk with each other and join up to fight bad guys. Yes, they can be pretty nerdy, although fans say they like the social aspects of the genre.
"It's like hanging out at your favorite bar or coffeehouse, except that instead of playing pool you're fighting back the undead hordes," said Benjamin Ellinger, a Microsoft program manager and associate professor at DigiPen Institute of Technology, a video-game programming college in Redmond.
These games, around since the late '80s, have never been the 800-pound gorilla.
That is, until "World of Warcraft" came along. The game, which took five years to create, has the industry's head spinning by racking up unprecedented numbers of players and revenue.
"World of Warcraft" has 6.25 million players and was launched just 18 months ago. Once you buy it at the store, where it sells for around $50, you have to pay a monthly fee of about $15 (that's in the …