The Faces Behind Cyberspace
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
When I consider the amount of time I've spent with many friends in MMOs, it strikes me as odd that I can know so much about people that I've never actually met. Where they are from, their favorite food, the fact they are afraid of clowns, etc... Chatting over the internet, allows responses to be changed and thought through, not to mention gives no facial expression or verbal tone which is critical to communication.
I had an opportunity this year to meet people I knew only over cyberspace. It involved a number of friends in EverQuest 2, who I've known for over a year. Many of us decided to attend the annual Fan Faire convention SOE throws in Atlanta. Meeting people face to face, is always very different from chatting online, or even on the phone, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Were these people going to be really dull, dance naked on the balcony while drinking, or even eat at Hooters every night we were there?
Lesson one about meeting people from the internet in real life: People who are generous with the "*hugs*" can be just as generous in real life. If you are someone who isn't a physically affectionate person, be prepared. Not saying I have a serious problem, just that I might have been a bit unprepared for hugs, especially from a man. I couldn't make eye contact with Ten Ton Hammer's Coyote for a few hours. Just kidding, we didn't hug. That photo they have is a total fabrication.
Lesson two about meeting people from the internet in real life: People who drink a lot, are VERY different from how they are online. We could take Coyote and his ability to destroy a bottle of vodka as an example, or the whiskey philosopher who insisted who knew more about the Serenity movie than we did. I had another friend who vowed to rip his spleen from his body if he didn't be quiet. Which brings me to the next lesson.
Lesson three about meeting people from the Internet in real life: Having all your friends, and some strangers in your hotel room while entertaining, can prove to be quite messy to clean up the next day. Take all your friends to a restaurant let them drink there, and stumble back to their hotel rooms. This will also keep strangers from calling the next day asking if you have their shoes. Why do I have your shoes again? What were you....never mind.
Lesson four about meeting people from the internet in real life: Decide on what to call them before you meet them. What do I mean? Do they call me Radar? Do they call me Tony? Personally, I answer to anything but "funny man" (eyeballs Coyote) so it wasn't an issue for me. It did however cause confusion with what to call people, and I switched back and forth between character and real names. At one point, I actually mixed both of them together which...well just sounded absurd.
Lesson five about meeting people from the internet in real life: When rooming with someone you've never met in person, be sure to log out of your laptop before letting them use it. If you do not, it can result in someone posting under your names on official forums, as well as changing the link in your signature to something you really hate. Was it funny? It would've been funnier if it didn't take me 3 months to figure out my signature link was changed.
Lesson six about meeting people from the internet in real life: This was a very important lesson. There are certain people that you would love nothing more than to beat into a coma with a pool noodle (that's the foam flotation devices if you didn't know), but who in real life are actually tolerable in very small doses. I met at least one person in particular, who I felt was a particularly annoying community member who I got along with. Sometimes however, you should go with your gut. People that annoy you, that actually want to meet you, may need to be avoided. Hence the three grown adults ducking like teenage girls to keep from being seen by someone.
How would the Gods and Heroes community members get along at a real life setting? From what I've seen so far, everyone seems to be for the most part, getting along just fine on the forums. It would be interesting to see many of you in the same room, discussing theories of how the game should be built or shouldn't be having another drink. Either way, here is to hoping we got a Gods and Heroes fan faire and can all meet up one day.