Are MMORPG Relationships Meaningless?
But as other players highlight, itís more about how the individual player approaches the game that determines whether they will form meaningful relationships in the game:
This seriously depends on the person you're becoming friends with. I've made many friends in games who become outside-of-game friends because we have a lot in common, same maturity level, looking for the same things in a friendship, and just click. I would call these very meaningful. But I also have many friends in games who are just sort of there to pass the time while I play... they're silly and fun to chat with... but I'd never want to deal with them outside of the game. Those relationships I would label as superficial. [EQ, F, 22]
Most of the relationships I've formed (with guild members and the like) are superficial, even when we talk about real life issues. But there's a small group of players that I've become close to, and this group forms a network of people that know each other in real life. In other words, I know Jon, and Jon knows Barry, and Barry's worked with Steve and Brian, and Ruth and Heather are their wives....etc. This group is geographically scattered across two continents, but I now regard these folks as my friends as much as most of the people I meet physically. I know their personalities, know that they'll be there for me if I need them (as much as they can be), and appreciate their company. The military moved us to a town where Brian and Ruth lived. We'd never met them face-to-face (my husband had played EQ with Brian regularly for about 2 years, while both of the wives had come into EQ later), but they invited us over to their house the first week we were in town and offered help in getting settled in the new place. That's more help than the hubby's job friends offered, and we certainly consider them 'real' friends. [EQ, F, 34]
I believe that the nature of the relationships formed will depend on the people forming them. Some people approach MMORPGs as strictly a game, with no interest in the social aspects beyond how they can advance the game. These people make 'game friends' -- superficial and meaningless friendships IRL, but all you need when it comes to the game. Others take advantage of the medium to be deceptive -- to pretend to be someone they are not. These are also superficial relationships. My husband's step-mother does this repeatedly, she left her husband, moved in with someone from EQ, then left him for another person from EQ. Others play for fun, but have come across people they felt especially close to over time. I met my husband that way -- over the course of a few months, we went from being friends in game to conversing IRL, then getting married in game, then meeting IRL, then getting together IRL. Since we've been married for 20 months, I'd say that's definitely not superficial or meaningless. :) [EQ, F, 40]
Tags: boundary play (17) , boundary tensions (8) , play is social (27) , relationship formation (14)
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