A Stage For Resolution?
But in the same way that the MMO space can magnify existing personality differences, they can provide the stage on which those RL tensions can be resolved because the roots of those tensions are clarified and laid out. The play space can become a space where RL tensions are "played" out and resolved.
Constance is a graduate student in theology from Wisconsin. Here she describes how playing together reshaped her relationship with a close friend.
I played the game with a romantic partner who has since become just a friend. In fact, we were romantically involved for only a short time, our friendship is more significant. We have played together now for 3-4 years. For the first couple of years (as both romantic partners and friends) we fought in-game CONSTANTLY, in a way that we did not fight in real life. It was so maddening.
He had played the game since creation date, I started two years in. He knew everything and he was very bossy and controlling and it made me insane. (Not to mention how many times he lead me to my death.) I would get more furious playing the game with him then I think I had ever gotten in real life. I am typically very mild, but he made me feel like a piece of luggage and I would get so mad that my eyes would water and I would have to log out. Often when I logged in I hoped he wasn't on.
I kept making chars and not giving the names to him. It baffled me. 'It's only a game,' I would tell myself. But I felt like a puppet. Or a disgruntled 50s housewife. I felt like I did not have a char, I was just an extension of his char. It speaks to the immersion level of the game, because I was truly upset on a personal-identity level. What is interesting, is that we don't fight at all anymore. We still fought for some time after ceasing to be romantically involved and only being friends, so I don't think that was it.
I honestly believe that we both changed in RL because of this experience. I learned not to get so upset if I'm not in complete control and don't always know everything about what is going on. And he learned how to be co-operative and not controlling, and how to communicate rather than dictate. Now there is no one I'd rather game with, and I don't have as much fun playing when he isn't on. I think the in-game arguing, though it never occurred to the same level outside of the game, was an intense version of something that existed in real life, but was not as clearly seen in real life. The game situation heightened tensions that were more muted in real life. Mild communication problems in real life became extreme in the game. [EQ, F, 34]
Tags: boundary play (17) , play is social (27) , playing with friends/partner/family (6) , transfer offline (9)
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