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DRAVEN: HOSTILE ARSENAL`Crusade GUARDIANS PierceTheVeins Fenris Mastermind Vengeance LEGION ELITE Imperial SUPERIOR Descendants REVENGE AllStars CONQUEROR CONQUEST Renegades Celestial Beings Enrage ... [go]

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An Ethnography of MMORPG Weddings

Other weddings are more laden with humor:

Iíve been married twice. Once to a very good friend who I met very early in the game. We were married near a large arena by a lake. The vows were strange, because normally people dont think of a pair of dark elf shadow knights to be all happy happy love love. O_o But you know, it was your normal evil wedding with vows about walking the path of darkness with each other and slaying the innocent, ect. LOL. Followed by a drunken guild fight in the arena. (What would you expect from a PvP guild?) The second time was less fun. It was in a dull place that I didnt pick. The vows were nothing to remember. I didnt enjoy it very much. After we went to a dungeon that I also didnt pick, to camp something that he wanted. The start of a very unhappy EQ/RL relationship. One wedding I remember well actually wasnt my own, but a friends. It was in a city, and a guard came by and started to attack some guests as the vows were being said, it was pretty interesting. [EQ, F, 17]

Highlights of the wedding? It was a cute ceremony, I guess. I got a ring that one of my alts still wears. I got married to my old guild leader, the location was the docks at Freeport. We all went and 'got a hotel room' in Freeport and started boozing it up. The funniest part: a friend of mine who didn't want me to get 'married' to this guy, sends my RL boyfriend (we werenít dating at the time though) a tell sayin 'i hope it friggin rains' and it started raining. [EQ, F, 22]

Yes I have been married 3 times, the first 2 times just a roleplay arrangement. The first wedding my husband got drunk and fell in some water and drowned. The second was supposed to be in my favorite place in lesser fay fairy ring, sadly before i arrived the whole wedding party was wiped out by the corrupted horse so the venue had to be changed. But the most meaningful was the third time because I had truly fell in love and now am married to this many in many different lives. [EQ, F, 38]

And finally, sometimes weddings fulfill political purposes:

I have married someone in game. It was partially a political move (believe it or not....) to get me into a pretty selective high end raiding guild that had closed off its application process. I got married to a long time friend. We said pagan-like vows to each other (as I wanted to roleplay it as much as possible ... and had been to previous weddings that modeled the american-christian weddings services ... that bugged me to no end Ö as he iis korean-american and I am jewish-american it made sense to do it this way) There was a lot of alcohol drinking and food eating. We got married in Lake Rathe....a place we both picked out. [EQ, F, 29]



"A virtual wedding isnít an attempt to hi-jack a real life ritual as much as it is a ritual that has evolved and taken on its own significance in a virtual world. In the same way that words and dialect take on their own cultural meaning and bestow cultural identity on its speakers, a virtual wedding is a cultural phenomenon that establishes a kind of digital identity for these virtual communities."

I disagree. A digital wedding is definitely intended to parallel a real world statement of commitment. In Everquest, at least, typically the "happy couple" will usually have their surnames changed to match. Often the "wedding" results in a one-sided relationship where one partner relies on the other for "twinking" of money and equipment - essentially financial support, if you prefer. Worse, it bleeds over into real-world behaviour as I've seen these marriages break up when the male partner found out that his in-game wife was actually a man playing a female character somewhere. Certainly if the digital weddings were simply about on-line identity, that would never matter.

In the bulk of the digital weddings I've seen, it has always appeared to me that one partner or the other is role-playing, but the other is usually trying to leverage an in-game partnership to get an out-of-game relationship going.

Posted by: pdcowan on May 3, 2003 9:18 AM

In a strange way, your comments support the point of view that the in-game wedding/marriage are cultural rituals that do something else - in this case, the "twinking" and the "leveraging".

But notice you've shifted the focus from the wedding to the marriage itself, which is an entirely different issue with its own subtleties and uses. The question is why do players create such elaborate weddings, including the alcohol and the fireworks? All this elaborate role-playing is just for the "twinking" and "leveraging"?

Posted by: Nick Yee on May 3, 2003 10:22 AM

In my experience with 4 years in UO- I see few major reasons for the wedding end of things.

1) Gifts - I know a player who has all of her charcters get married for the free loot. She went as far as having one of her characters marry one of her RL father's characters simply to get presents.

2)Social recognition- Sometimes people get married to increase their social standing. It might be to promote a particular event, player-run establishment,or guild, but most likely it is about promoting the persons themselves. It's about being the center of attention and having people congratulate you for befriending someone who you can flirt with- in the hopes of being more popular.

3) "RP" reasons- I've heard this one touted the most, but I firmly beleive 1 and 2 are more common reasons which are hidden behind the guise of 3. For any public wedding- I've yet to meet any RP'ers that earnestly try to emulate a marital relationship- without there being some rl attachment going on. Perhaps the line is too thin to discern.

4) Relational reasons- I know personally, one guy who's not only married online, he's moved across the country to experience real relations with the women he's married in-game (yes I mean more than one). I know another person who has some sick "platonic" rl relationship with an online husband in the form of phone calls, cards, online wedding albums, while her rl husband is cognisant of the depth of this "special relationship" that's carried across at least three different MMORPG's.

So- these being the most common reasons I see- I don't see online weddings and marriages to be "silly", I find them to be disturbing.

Posted by: Otto O on May 7, 2003 12:48 PM

The idea of a wedding on EQ is hilarious to me. But despite it's supposed stupidity, in about 3 weeks, I am getting married on EQ. =) There is nothing between us RL, but we have been friends online from the very beginning. He fought with my old main all the way from the early teens to deletion around lvl 40, and now fights with my new main. We are fellow guildies, and as it seemed to be expected that our characters would marry, we have decided to bond our online friendship and give our friends and fellow guild members yet another chance to party. =) If anyone knows any sites with good RP wedding vows, please let me know =), and feel free to comment or bash this posting as much as you're lil hearts please =)....

Posted by: /grin on June 24, 2003 9:14 AM

I love the idea of marrying someone in game. I have been freinds with the elf that I am marrying since I began playing EQ and we have a very srong bond. We run around Norrath via ports usually and have tons of fun together. We had even lost touch for about a month and just found one another again. He gave me a promise ring, a promise to help me whenever he had the ability to do so in game, long before he ever asked me to marry him, in game. So, when we found one another again, he asked me and I said yes so now we are in the planning stages. We still fight together when we have the chance (even though we have an uncanny knack for getting ourselves killed,lol) and he always seems to have room for me in his groups when I ask. I think weddings ic are a wonderful idea and just an evolution of an online community. Because once you reach a certain level you know and help most ppl who play, and it becomes an actual community setting.

Posted by: Morgs on September 2, 2003 10:30 PM

I personally think RP weddings in game aren't mocking the real deal. When you look at it, many of our behaviors stem from RL experience translating into the game anyhow.

My RL husband and I married each other in an impromptu wedding late one night with the aid of our guild and admittingly, it was a blast. We're both jokesters, so we encouraged goofy behavior and personal gifts were whipped up on the spot by guild crafters complete with a honeymoon suite.

I guess the RP marriage can get a bit sticky when one or both players have a RL relationship that potentially can create conflict. I ran into this situation when a friend of mine announced he was marrying a girl in a neighboring city close to our guild. He had a RL fiance and to me, I saw it as an issue. I knew it wasn't my place to act as a moral police officer, so I never voiced my opinion over it. I mean, it is a game and they were RP. For me, it's just something I wouldn't have done.

On an endnote, RP weddings are a great way to learn more about your fellow guildees/players and provides an opportunity to let one's hair down and take advantage of an on-line game's social aspects.

Posted by: Vespa on July 7, 2005 2:41 PM

My real life wife and I took very seriously our in game wedding. During my time as a counselor for Ultima Online, I observed many weddings. While some were for intrigue or Rp purposes, many of them were an online representation of a real life attraction between characters. I know that in the case of my real life wife and I, the vows we took in game were dead serious to us and were an in game public declaration of our real life love

Weddings were serious enough business in Ultima Online that several counselors specialized in performing weddings and weddings were considered an official part of support. Players could even select an inscription that GMs would place upon their rings

Posted by: Honkwomp on October 15, 2005 12:39 AM

I have been married online numerous times going way back to Federation, a text-based RPG found on AOL some 15 years ago. This was when RPG gaming was in it's early stages and what I found most interesting about it was that even without guidelines or pre-conceived ideas, people seemed to naturally form into guilds and families, and having wives, husbands and children was a natural progression of this micro-community that most certainly emulates real life. The ties that bind bring us closer together, and as beings of like kind, we seek to reproduce what is known to us and what makes us happy, in game and out.

Posted by: Shauni on July 19, 2006 10:13 AM

In a way this is 'cute' . But an 'online wedding' IMO is nothing be taken seriously about. Yes it is true that you don't have to meet someone to love someone. but the truth is you can't live with someone until you meet someone lol. I'm saying this because i personally had a very bad experience with 'online dating'.

If it's all for fun and RP, it's all good.
If it's something serious.. then woah..hold it there.

Posted by: Jin on January 23, 2007 4:53 PM

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Posted by: iwabkcqffj on June 19, 2007 7:53 AM

I have both been married in games and officiated weddings, as I usually play a cleric class. I find that in most cases, it is just an extention of roleplay. When characters play together almost nightly for years in an MMORPG, a virtual wedding makes for a way to mark those years that you have spent developing a character.

In officiating a wedding, it's a fun challenge to find historical precedent for the text. Matching the ceremony to the MMORPG can be a great excersize!

Posted by: Selyn Trencavel on August 19, 2007 8:22 PM

What I would like to look at is whether or not there is a difference between Asian gamers and American/Western gamers. I've played MMOs in China and in the US and it seems that there is a great deal more "dating" going on in-game and more "more or less heart-felt" weddings going on over in China. I wonder what would happen if WoW opened up a marriage ceremony similar to Ragnoraks?

Posted by: Kyra on September 23, 2007 7:21 PM

I have been in an online wedding with my boyfriend before, and we did it as more of a cute social event then as a serious commitment. To us it was more just a little surprise to show each other that we cared kind of thing. While we both acted serious, we never took it seriously.

Posted by: Jasmine on January 5, 2008 1:56 AM

Hmm MUD weddings were common on many MUDS, so why not the newer MMO's? Roleplay WAS the main reason for those, and yes MUDivorces were just a prevalant as MUDmarriages. Now with a more structured guild/clan structure on the MMO's and the huge number of players one group's roleplay gets lost in the numbers. So the marriage that may have started a game wide clanwar in the MUD days goes barely noticed on the larger games.

Good job on the article

Posted by: Zeta Thompson on May 26, 2008 8:46 PM

I find that on Second Life, which is much less of a game than a ... refuge?... People treat an online 'marriage' as a public affirmation of genuine affection between two people. Their online alter egos being interlocutors for a physical relationship that may for any number of reasons (real life marital status, gender or geographic location to name just the most salient) make a relationship in the physical world difficult.

I'd be very hesitant to make light ( or write off as "creepy") the idea that people can find emotional solace in other souls when their situation precludes finding it in other bodies.

Posted by: Morwen Blaisdale on December 26, 2010 6:29 PM
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