Just as the good things carry over into real life, so do the bad things. It's hard to contain disagreements and fights that happen in the virtual space and keep them there.
Often my character would get more loot and/or responsibility than my husband during raids. This would cause a rift between us in real life. Also, I would often find myself getting on to my husband for not being very skillful. He would break mez, run up on the puller etc. It would embarrass me in front of my guild mates...resulting in either me silently resenting him or me giving him a good tongue thrashing about not paying attention. [EQ, F, 27]
Tamara, a planet-hopping ESL teacher currently in Austria, ran a guild with her roommate and describes the good and bad sides of that.
In some respects playing with my roommate was excellent. We ran a guild and between us were able to talk about things inside and outside the game. Unfortunately the bad side was that disagreements didn't always end in the game, and often carried through to affect the atmosphere in the house. He would do some utterly stupid things sometimes, and I'm sure vice versa. [AO, F, 25]
For a few people, the conflicts that emerged from the game play had a significant negative impact on their RL relationship.
I started playing EQ in order to spend time with my then boyfriend (who I lived with) Initially, it was a good experience, but as time went on and my characters leveled faster than his, playing together was more irritating than anything else. He was intensely jealous that I excelled more than he in a game that he had been playing much longer. We had separate friends in EQ and he grew jealous of my online friends. Ultimately the game that I had started playing to spend time with him became a huge downfall in our relationship. He began to accuse me of spending more time with my EQ buddies than with him, that I cared more about them, etc.. [EQ, F, 29]
I had a real life friend playing on the same server as I did on EverQuest. It was neither good or bad, but we had a lot of arguments. He didn't know the game as well as I did, even though he started first, so he disagreed with me a lot. I also lend him money every so often, but he did not focus on repaying back to me. In a way, it loosened the relationship [DAoC, M, 18]
At first, my wife and I started to play SWG to do something together. Unfortunately we only opened one account, so she had a toon on one server and I had one on another, therefore this rarely happened. Furthermore, with her being more outgoing and social than I, she developed friendships more rapidly and was invited to do more interesting things, thus leveling her toon much faster than I did mine. This led to her getting more and more of the playtime, until I hardly played at all and she played VERY frequently. It has caused strain on our marriage and I have since developed a resentment for something I initially really enjoyed playing. [SWG, M, 34]
A co-worker of mine drew me in to playing Asheron's Call. Since we sat next to each other at work and both became intensely absorbed in the game rules, mechanics and adventures we actually spent a good portion of our work days discussing, creating charts, planning quests, and mapping out careers for the game. In-game we enjoyed a lot of teamwork, we pooled our resources together and both became experts on the game. His real life bipolar personality and high stress level drove him to take the game a little too seriously, and it carried over to our work environment, which turned very sour. Although he quit the game, I still had to deal with him at work and my only escape from him was when we were all laid off. This story is odd to me because normally you can just squelch a grief player in-game or move to a different server, but in this case the caustic 'virtual' personality plagued me in real life. [EQ2, M, 36]
Tags: boundary play (17) , play is social (27) , playing with friends/partner/family (6) , transfer offline (9)
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