Many interesting questions and issues arise from MMORPGs and the individuals who inhabit these immersive worlds, and sometimes the attitudes and opinions of players towards these issues are in and of themselves interesting.
The chart below shows the attitudes of players with regards to whether characters can fall in love without the players falling in love as well. While players tended to indicate that it is possible for players to role-play a romantic relationship without actually having romantic feelings for another player, about one-third of players leaned towards the other side.
Question to Readers: Why is it possible or impossible for players to role-play a romantic relationship without actually romantic feelings for other players?
The following pair of charts reveals an interesting pattern. While almost all MMORPG players agree that an individual can become addicted to an MMORPG, they are in complete disagreement as to whether this addiction is something we should be concerned about. The agreement of the first chart is in complete contrast with the disagreement in the second chart.
In other words, when we discuss MMORPG addiction, the question isnít whether it exists, but whether it is more or less serious than other addictions and how much attention we should pay to MMORPG addiction in relation to other addictions we already know about.
Question to Readers: How serious is MMORPG addiction? Or rather, how serious could it become as MMORPGs become more prevalent? Should it be considered a real medical/psychological condition?
When I think of a romantic relationship, I think of the deep, abiding relationship I have with my husband, both in game and out of game. This relationship is such a part of me, of both of us really, that we act in ways that both of us are entirely unconscious of, yet folks meeting us for the 1st time in game soon realize that we are linked in some way.
Both of us play "single" characters of both sexes, yet somehow we have ended up with our mains and alts "paired" at different levels with charactors of the opposite sex. After meeting us for the 1st time, folks will refer to my husband's charactors as my "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" depending on what chars we are playing. We do not intentionally set out to tell people we have a RL relationship, but it is there in the way we act towards each other and towards others.
I cannot tell you what it is we say or do in game that let folks know we are involved with each other. Whatever it is, it is as real as the air we breathe, and just as substantial, and just as invisible to us.
It is for that reason that I say you cannot roleplay a romantic relationship without having feelings for the other person. I have grouped with other folks that were married in RL, and with those who were married only "in-game". And always, by the 3rd session I will know which is which. Those that are married only "in-game" and are roleplaying a relationship seem to display a callousness towards their partner underneath all the flirtatious and romantic play that I never see with couples who are married in RL.
In a RL relationship you have to be willing to both sacrifice at times for your partner, and at other times be willing to stretch your neck out and take risks for the other person's wellbeing. I know that pattern carries over into MMORPGs as well.
Both my husband's charactors and mine are slightly overprotective of each other. I can't count the number of times his shaman has died becuase he stayed behind to get one last heal off in a vain attempt to keep my warrior alive while my warrior valiently dies, holding off the monsters so that he could get away. Also we both tend to be more greedy for good drops for the partnered charactor than for our own charactors. I shall never forget my husband's charactor facing down an entire group in Kaesora, insisting that my charactor get the good backpack drop, even though his charactor didn't have that drop either. And I have stood just as stubbornly insisting to my guild leaders that his charactor be awarded that good armor drop, even though he wasn't in the guild yet. We also tend to be more patient and helpful towards each other's charactors than towards other charactors in general. In ToV when my husband's char was stuck, it was me who went down to him and patiently showed him 6 times how to get out of that spot while the rest of our guild and friends just shouted instructions. (Then the wurm spawned, just as he was finally understanding how to out of the spot. Oh well, at least we died together again.)
It is those attitudes, that are bone deep in us, that make it impossible to realistically roleplay a romantic relationship without being actually involved. I intinctively act towards his charactor as I would if it were RL, and he does also towards mine. There is no hesitation, no waying out of options, no thought of how I should act to keep up a role. There is only him and his charactors to help and protect.
My husband's and mine gaming habits and relationship is just like that of the first woman who posted here. We roleplay together, and don't set out to be the other's love interest, but it always ends up that way. We each flirt with other gamers, but make sure they are clear on the fact that it's just fun and we are seriously involved out of game.
However I disagree with the notion that one can't roleplay love without real love, because I've seen it done first hand. Two of my best real life friends are a married couple, the female is a WONDERFUL roleplayer, and I've seen her stories going back and forth with men in her guild who she was married to or engaged to, in story, and I must say that if the person REALLY knows how to roleplay, it's entirely possible. There is a huge difference between true roleplaying and an occasional flirt in character.
I also want to comment on the findings about "game addiction." In a discussion with a friend, we questioned the hours that the average gamer puts in, and what qualifies as "addiction." We wondered what you would find if you asked people who don't have computers how much time they spend in front of the TV. I think games just replace tv or radio for most people... and I never here very much about "tv addiction."
After a failed 32 year marriage failed I plunged into UO. It was great therapy in many ways. I met my second husband there. We were married in game and almost two years later married in RL. We both started playing another game...DAoC. After about a year I became bored with the game. At this moment my husband surprised me with a trip to Denmark to tell me he wanted to marry his new online wife in RL. I'm not sure what this says other than people have to be very careful.
It is a very intresting topic of game addiction and how it ifluence ppls lives. For me my first big game was DAOC and at first it was ok pastime, while CS was getting borring, but a bit later on you realize that for one reason or another you can sorta get away form your real life, by creating and folloing rules you wish to follow. You find friends that seem to be on the same page as you in your life. aka make new friends. I must addmit i'm addicted to that game but in a sence i'm looking for challenges in my life, and to stop this addiction would be a better experiment then to go on cocain diet :) . As some of my roomates addicted to TV and have to watch their faivorite shows everyday, or other that have to find "the new best game out" ( currently getting very good at planetside), i say find your addiction and enjoy it as long as you don't harm others nor yourself.(the poor kid who killed himself /cry)
P.S. hehe and don't forget "its just a game", and if it drags you in too much just walk away, pick up a book and read some classics :)
Having read the account mentioned in Ashlifem's post concerning a troubled online realtionship between two women it seems to me that relationships in RL and ~RL (not RL) have many similarities. In this case we have an example of a woman levering her gender to influence the men around her; interestingly a cynic may argue that the woman making the post is behaving identically to the woman she is posting about, the replies indicate this effect at any rate.
Due to the relative scarcity of women in MMORPGS and the male desire for female affection one would presume that the phenomena described above would be amplified in MMORPGS. Any thoughts?
Roleplaying a romantic relationship is no different from any other type of acting. Would you say that an actor can't play an accountant in a movie, just because he has never worked as an accountant in real life?
Everyone has been in love, but most people can't roleplay it, not because there is something magical about being in love, but because they are not good at roleplaying.
For a good actor, anything is possible. It's just that the vast majority of people are not good actors.