Not everyone is content to play commercial games on commercial game servers: some enterprising individuals are motivated to set up private servers.
For legions of gamers, entering Azeroth or the Kingdom of Khanduras is a chance to shake off the rules and conventions of the real world, and immerse themselves in fantasy.
In these mythical lands almost anything goes.
But for a select few, even the freedoms offered by these imaginary worlds are too restrictive.
These gamers turn to the world of the “private server”, privately-hosted versions of commercially-available games where the creator’s rules no longer apply.
For every game with an online community, it is likely that scores or perhaps even hundreds of these exist.
There is no official tally because such servers are usually under threat of closure from games firms. But a quick web search will turn up advertisements for hundreds.
– Nick Ryan: The closed world of private game servers @ BBC
The article goes on to note that “the top games companies have been less than impressed by such developments,” and that some companies have taken legal action against unauthorized private servers.