Games on a Plane
Have Game Will Travel
MMORPGs are unique amongst games, whether they be platform or PC, in many ways. One major difference being the communities. MMOs allow us to connect to all kinds of people, all over the globe on a daily basis, and for a lot of us, this connection spans over months and years. It's not all that unexpected that with that kind of regular interaction that people will eventually feel a kinship with other players. Sometimes that kinship is a simple friendship with other guild members, sometimes it spans to a romantic relationships that can last a lifetime.
Either way, there is this pull and desire to come face to face with people that you feel close to. Even online, you can get this feeling about someone that says to you "This person would be a BLAST to hang out with in real life".
Fun, Friends, and Game
I'm not sure if this is the experience of others, but it is most definitely my experience. Being a female MMO gamer, I sometimes feel like a rare breed. While my real life friends are out watching chick flicks, having brunch, or arranging their children's play dates, I'm at home working on leveling my brigand, trying desperately to get an heritage quest done, or whipping out an article for Ten Ton Hammer. This can be a lonely place to be. I find solace in the fact that even though there may not be women in my real life that share my interests, I know that there are women in my guild that do. And to be very honest, it would be an honor to spend a weekend just hanging out with them and chit chatting about anything and everything under the sun.
I believe this to be a sentiment shared by many people. It's not unusual to see guilds put together world wide gatherings for their guild members. Or even on a smaller scale, online gaming friends in a region hanging out for an afternoon for lunch, or grabbing a drink one evening to shoot the breeze.
On a larger scale, we at EverQuest II are privileged to participate in SOE's Fan Faire. An annual event held by SOE to gather gamers from all of their online games in one place for games, food, and fun. The popularity of this event holds testament to the fact that people are willing to fly across the US, and even across the globe, to commiserate with their fellow gamers.
Several of my own guild members, and guild friends, attended the last Fan Faire. And while I did not (of which I curse myself everyday for missing out), I do hear that they had a fabulous time together with much drinking (21 and over only please!) and much fun. But of course, those that I hang with are the coolest people ever, so it's not surprising that they all had a blast.
Oooh...I Think He Likes You!!
Aside from the friendly, innocent fun, it's been a long standing joke in MMOs in regards to people meeting the boy or girl of their dreams, hooking up, and living happily ever after in geeky gamer bliss. It happens! I know so many people who have met people in game that they have gone on to meet in real life and have nurtured a romantic relationship with, sometimes including eventual marriage!
I only warn that people be careful with this. While finding someone that you truly click with, and could see yourself being romantically involved with, is definitely something worth exploring, it's unfortunate, but true that some people misrepresent themselves, or could be potentially dangerous. I can't help but step into my mother pants for a moment and caution anyone that is planning to meet another person online, to do so in a very public and safe place!! Ya never know when that 20-something, sensitive, flower-sending cutie, is really a married freaky stalker type!
Okay..doom and gloom is being taken down a notch now. With that all being said, I do get the giggles and grins when I hear that two people I know from in game are meeting up. Especially when they are people that you like, you want them to be happy, and you want things to work out for them, just like when you see a real life friend head off on a blind date.
Real Life vs. Virtual Life
This brings me to another line of thought. How do your virtual friends compare to your real life friends? Hmm...This is something I'd actually like opinions on!
I want to say that there is no difference, but that's not quite true. I'm a little more cautious with my online friends at first. I don't give out personal information to those that I don't trust completely. And while my real life friends are free to pop by my house any ole time they please, seeing a guild member on my front steps uninvited is likely to get the police called. I don't believe it's so easy for me to get over the fact that while I may chat with these people daily, and I may talk with them all the time over voice, there is still this nagging thought that with such a distance, things aren't always what they appear to be. Certain aspects of people's personalities can be camouflaged when you don't spend face to face time together. And having run into more than one overly friendly male claiming to be single, then eventually having a nice little conversation with his wife or girlfriend over IM, I would suggest that my feelings on the manner are quite on the bulls eye.
Does that mean online relationships cannot be trusted? Of course not. I have met people online that give me the distinct feeling of being 100% real. A guild mate, Tarra, comes to mind. I hardly know her outside typical in game guild chatter, but I can just tell, she is the most real and kind person, and someone I'd love to hang out with. Another person, my co-worker Coyote, is another one that I know I'd enjoy hanging out with. Anyone that is THAT out there, cannot be faking anything. I mean, who would want to come off as having an obvious mild mental illness if they were trying to hide one? So either he's completely on the level, or the most diabolical master-mind ever. I sent Radar in to find out first, he came back safe, so I'm guessing Coyotes not a mass murderer. I hope.
Will I or Won't I?
Personally I'm not sure if I'd ever take that step into congregating in real life with all of my online pals. In truth, I am painfully shy and it's always been part of the reason why I've been drawn to online gaming. If Ten Ton Hammer put together a meet and greet, I'm not sure I could bring myself to go! Fear is a powerful thing my friends. But I'm willing to bet that there would be plenty of players that would love to spend some time kicking back and relaxing with their comrades in gaming. Would you? Are you brave enough to venture out into the big wide world, hop on a plane to come face to face with a bunch of people you know only as avatars and text? You are braver than I!
Questions? Comments? I invite discussion! You can find me via e-mail.
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