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Are MMORPG Relationships Meaningless?

That was the question posed to MMORPG players, and they were asked to use their own personal experiences in explaining their answer. The responses presented below help highlight the different ways that players approach the question as well as point out what the key issues are.

The respondents who believed that the relationships in MMORPGs were superficial mainly used arguments focusing on the facelessness of the communication:

I don't maintain close relationships in-game. If I can't touch or feel it, it's not very real to me. So I tend to develop more acquaintance type relationships in game and more personal/meaningful relationships in real life. [EQ, M, 43]

I feel that relationships in MMORPGS can be 'real', but not 'meaningful' as in real life - although people can find someone with whom they 'click', they may in fact be clicking with a totally different person's invented Avatar, which in many ways detracts from the potential of a relationship being meaningful. [NWN, M, 17]

They are meaningless. You can be anything you want. I have a distrust for what people tend to say about themselves in game. [SWG, M, 27]

One player on the other side of the spectrum articulated that the facelessness of the communication is in fact a good thing:

I believe that relationships formed in game are even more structured than those in real life. I love the fact that your appearance doesn't affect your relationship with someone; only the content of your character. I know my best friend through the game, and I can tell that person things which I wouldn't even be able to tell my siblings or parents. [EQ, M, 17]

And as another player points us, are we kidding ourselves if we say that people donít pretend to be things they arenít in real life or that there are only good people in the real world?

It is just as easy to have a 'superficial and meaningless' relationship with someone in a game, as it is to have one in real life. I have made more, and closer friends in MMORPGs than in real life. This doesn't mean I donít have close friends in real life, as I do. Both RL and online friends are a very important part of my life. I have also seen meaningless relationships formed in game, a few times. Where one would use the other for money, items, power leveling, etc. But I have also seen a good deal of real life relationships where one used the other for money, games, clothes, and other things. It all depends on who you are dealing with. There are going to be bad people online who don't care for a meaningful relationship, but these people also exist in the real world too. [EQ, F, 17]

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Posted on November 3, 2003 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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