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Sharing Contact Info

Sharing real life contact info is one way to measure how willing MMORPG players are in bringing their virtual social network into the real world. While it could be argued that people giving out their IMís and emails are maintaining superficial guild contact information for distribution, that is a less viable argument for why people give out their phone numbers. I feel that measuring the prevalence of sharing contact information gives a rough approximation of the strength of social ties that develop in the game. Any thoughts?

Below are gender differences in the sharing of contact information, separating the people who have given their contact info to only one person from the people who have shared that information with more than one person.

And here are the age differences. The doubling of people who give out their phone numbers over the age range is quite striking.

Posted on November 22, 2003 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)


Just a quick comment about the phone and IM data on the chart above. I think a lot of the IM data has to do with how many people from the various age groups USE instant messaging. I am in the "above 35" group, and very rarely use it: I have a whopping two people on my buddy list :)

As far as giving out phone numbers, if either of my children who play EQ gave out our phone number, I'd be pretty pissed. However, I have given out our phone number to two people, who I met in game, because I felt that I knew them well enough and could trust them. I'm surprised that even 19% of 12 to 17 year-olds have given out phone numbers :)

Posted by: Larry on November 4, 2003 3:47 AM

It would be interesting to see the results for people who gave out address or have set up meeting with players in Real Life.

Posted by: Kevin on November 4, 2003 7:06 PM

Well, I have given out my phone number, e-mail and IM, and met up with people from EQ in real life, BUT, our family (which most of us play) have known these people for quite a long time, and felt that they were trusted.

Posted by: Tasha on November 5, 2003 10:11 AM

I met a friend who lives in the same country, but a different state. We had only known each other for a month at most, yet spending so much time (16-18hrs a day) with them was an experience which i have never had IRL. One day when i was telling her about some movies that i had watched, she said that her internet connection was too slow to download, and so i asked for her mailing address to send her some cds. She did not refuse or hesitate at all, as we had developed a deep level of trust for one another. She did not even ask for my address (although in the package i sent, i included mine). So far i have sent numerous packages of cds for her to watch, and she said she has enjoyed them alot. I dont see any difference between developing friendships online and sharing contact information is any different to RL experiences. It is easier to find people with a common interest online then in RL, and i believe friendships made online have more meaning then those "friends" i have made in RL.

Posted by: Kheng on November 14, 2003 12:01 AM

It's much the same thing as pen pals (back before email when people actually *gasp* used a pen and paper!) And while people may be more wary or handing out personal contact info (phone/address) that same wariness does not exist for email/IM (since it's less personal, and you can always place a sender on your block list if you don't want to talk to them, can't exactly do that if they decide to show up at your doorstep.)
As the previous poster stated, the drop in handing out IM info with increase age is most likely due to how many of those older people actually use IM.
Handing out your email rises for the same reason, those people don't necessarily have IM, so handing out an email addy is the next safest thing.
The increase in handing out phone numbers with age I'd think is because of 2 reasons: first- mature players tend to gravitate towards hanging out with other more mature players and are therefore more trusting of one another since they are of similar maturity levels. Second, older players probably consider themselves better judges of character than younger players (and those younger players might be extra wary after years of having their own parents yell at them to never hand out their personal info on the internet)
I'm a little surprised that females are more likely to give out their information than males, but the small number of females responding to the survey, along with females generally being more social creatures than males, probably explains that.

Posted by: a female player on January 17, 2004 9:58 PM

Email and IM are also more anonymous methods of comunicating than phone numbers. In addition, you can create an email address simply for communication with people and delete it when you no longer want to communicate with them; I had an address I gave out in EQ for exactly that purpose. I didn't want to share my real email address, so I gave that one out if I needed to be contacted outside of the game for any reason.

Posted by: Pat on January 20, 2004 11:43 AM

Some other information from this same group of people would have been interesting to have as well.

Such as, Have you met these people out of the game. EQ has Fanfaire, and many guilds have annual BBQ's.

Another interesting figure, would be if they have allowed someone else to sign on thier character. With EQ it isnt uncommon for someone to log in someone else's character for a flag, or something similar.

You also need to look at the number of people that use Forums outside of the game. Many guilds use BBS's so you develope a more intimate knowledge of the people you play with. I myself have shared my personal life with the people I play with becuase the MMORPG and RL are both intertwined and will affect one another. But people dont run around handing out thier personal info, it is people that we have known in game and possibly on forums for a while.

Posted by: Findywen on January 23, 2004 9:21 AM

I give out my email and IM name to everyone in my clan so that we can have meetings on there.

However, giving out my phone number is a different story. I am age 15, and I have given out my number to ONE person, and that was my best friend who I met on the internet. I chatted with them every day hours and hours, and learned everything about them. They are only age 12. However both my friend and I didn't tell our parents, when we talked on the phone. When they called though, I was so terrified to answer the phone. I saw the name on the caller ID (I already know EXACTLY what their first, middle, and last name is, as well as their street address, and they know the same about me). When I picked up the phone, we were speechless and sort of scared to talk, and only said hello, and hung up. I guess my friend and I are just not ready to talk on the phone yet.

Posted by: George on April 26, 2005 2:45 PM

I am an 18 year old female and I have given my phone number out and of course email and aim. I only give my phone numbers to those who I have known for quite sometime online and completely trust. If they were to ask for my address I wouldn't hesitate at all like someone said in the above comment. I however usually give my phone out because I am very attached to them as friends and feel that being able to be contacted by them at all times is very natural. Also if they lost connection or if there were any other reason they couldn't get online they could just give me a call and tell me other than me worrying that they were okay because they weren't online.

Posted by: Yuki on March 28, 2006 7:56 PM

I've given out email, phone, home address even. Cos we send each other postcards when travelling :P.

Posted by: Piggy on September 4, 2006 7:08 PM

I have been playing different MMOs for some years and I have a separate MSN address solely for gaming contacts.

It all started with just one or two close gamers from a game, then more and more people added to my IM list, before I know it, there are more gamers on my IM list than my irl friends (due to the fact I move around different games for quite a few times, adding new people onto my list). When I seriously sat down and thought about it, I feel my privacy is broken and needs repaired. I use my IM tag to announce irl stuff and, especially when I'm busy with irl stuff and IMing with irl friends about serious issues, I got absolutely no time for talking to my gaming contacts. To worsen the problem, some guys would literally chat with me everyday, and as a lenient person as I am, I hate to block people for being so annoying.

I think making a new IM fixed this problem - my privacy is protected, and I only get on my gaming IM account when I actually got time available to talk to those people. When I notice someone starts to get annoying, just get off IM for a couple days or weeks, let them chill, while I can still talk with my irl on my other IM. In a sense, I have never ever feel my privacy is violated since then.

Posted by: Jenny on December 3, 2006 10:33 PM

Been playing various MMO's for about 8 years.

I have always kept my game life and my "real life" pretty much totally seperate. Although I have met some friends in games, I have found that most online relationships are not long term. Back when I first started I was pretty naive, and gave out my phone to a couple of people I played with in Asheron's Call. One of those turned into almost a horror-movie version of a stalker, to the point where I had to get a court order and change my phone number.

In another case, some guy showed up at my door unannounced after driving 3 hours "just to chat". My (at that time) boyfriend was not amused :D. In that case it was very "bad form" of the guild site we used had a bug in it that allowed people to see your personal info (now I only list my company address, or a fake one).

I may have had bad luck, but ever since then I give almost zero personal info in games or anyplace online, anywhere. about the most I will give out is what city I live in.

Posted by: Kimi on December 4, 2006 6:02 AM

I am astounded at what younger players will say about themselves on general chat. I can only think that our generation (I'm late 30's) was inundated with horror movies that show what happens when you don't listen to your folks. The next generation has been immersed in movies that show how smart teens are compared to their parents. I am deeply frightened that the next tragedy I will hear about will deal with MMORPG's.

Posted by: Seepalaces on January 5, 2007 11:28 PM
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