Roles and Windows
Oftentimes, the game space allows people we know to take on roles that differ from their roles in real life. Some players commented on how MMOs allowed them to see people they knew in a different light. The MMO experience allowed them to rethink the predefined roles they were used to seeing each other in.
I play with 3 other family members. It is a BLAST! The advantages in having all of us in the same room when we are all playing together are numerous. Outside of the game it is a fun topic of conversation and very much like having a hobby we all do together. It has also given me the opportunity to see my family members in different roles from those one usually sees around the dinner table. [EQ, F, 49]
In the real world my grandson is a fairly silent, somewhat withdrawn, boy who acts much younger than his 12 years; inside the game his characters are outgoing and verbose. In the real world he hides his intelligence and asserts that he is uninterested in most things most of the time; his ingame attitude is one of immense curiosity -- he's discovered things about some of the zones within hours of his first visit to them that some long time players don't know. In game he values loyalty and fair play very highly; out of game he seems unaware of the concepts. He regularly tries to help characters who are lower level than he is by communicating either out of character or using tells. e.g. he said to me during one game, 'you med for a while Nana' and went zipping off, up the hilll and out of sight; on returning he explained that he'd seen another character that was 'green' going somewhere 'over his head'. [EQ, F, 58]
Brian is a system admin from Maryland who works on a military base. Here he first describes his surprise at his wife's more extraverted personality in the game and then how that allowed them to work on bringing that confidence into the real world.
I used to play online MMORPGs with my wife. I found that while she tended to be more restrained and submissive in real life, out in the virtual world she was a good deal more confident in herself and in what her character could do; it was as though all the concerns she had regarding her abilities in the real world were left behind and she was free to be more like her real self.
It's perhaps a little sad to admit, but prior to seeing her express those traits, I had considered her personality quite limited due to her shyness and lack of confidence. My role as a husband was part equal and part superior; I made the decisions for our relationship, I decided what we would do for dinner, I took care of things and acted as much parent as spouse.
When I saw her start to show confidence in-game I started giving her real world reminders of her other personality. In retrospect I could have taken steps to build her confidence and help change her personality around without the game as a motivating factor and sandbox, but sadly I probably would not have tried -- it was knowing that she had the potential that in turn caused my change in approach.
She gained a lot of confidence in herself. Instead of being a quiet and uncertain woman, she now goes out with friends, enjoys karaoke, has worked a couple of jobs (previously she was afraid to go to interviews!). [FFXI, M, 25]
The MMO space can be many things for a relationship. It can create conflicts that spill over into the real world. It can become a stage where differences become magnified and conflicts escalate. It can be a window into parts of other people that we've never seen in real life. And most interesting of all, they can be catalysts of change by highlighting those differences and nuances in people who we already know and helping us think about them in entirely different ways.
While I think it's great to have a spouse who plays online games with you I think there is a downside. I've noticed that husband/wife teams communicate significantly less in groups and on guildchat channels. Since they are using voice to communicate while they play they have less need to use text to express themselves. Part of the reason we inhabit virtual worlds is for the verbal interchange.
The result of this while not intentional is that group members and guildmates can feel a sense of alienation from the couple.
There is similiar problem happening now with the growing acceptance of voice communication systems like Teamspeak in that those that don't use it are feeling isolated and detached from those that do. Also players that use Teamspeak start to group more with each other and group less with non-Teamspeak users.
My wife and I have player together most nights for around a year. During that time our daughter, son in law, and two granddaughters lived with us.
During this time, the only way we could get close and communicate was via DAoC.
Playing the game, we were both able to retreat into the virtual world and gain personal space; relaxing and de-stressing.
My wife and I actually met playing Asheron's Call (AC), and we definitely believe in the "better (real) living" through MMORPGs. I was so profoundly moved by the power of the medium that I changed jobs to work on AC and have since worked on(and played) many other MMORPGs. Each time, I've played them with my wife - our game time is our quality time, to the envy of many of our other married friends who have spouses who are not gamers. Reading some of the stories in the article, I'm very glad we've been able to avoid these pit-falls. Perhaps its from having similar playing skills and out-going personalities (we're both officers in our current WoW guild). Probably though its from years on AOL, IRC and MMORPGs that we're more sensitive to how the virtual world can impact your RL relationships. While we recognize how important our virtual life is to us - we always make time for each other and our real lives.
We're now considering having kids and wondering how this will impact our game-time. Clearly we'll have to take more time away from these games, but I'd hate to abandon them altogether. I definitely think that these games, played with the right mind-set can act as a virtual life simulation - teaching you things about people and groups - that might not be as easy to see elsewhere. These are lessons I'd like my children to also learn, before they have to take these issues on in real-life.
Really enjoyed reading this article, thanks.
My boyfriend, whom I live with, is a hard core Online gamer. I say he is addicted, he denies it. He plays them all... and he sits in his little room, smoking, drinking, and totally ignoring me. I wouldn't mind if he wasn't in there for 12 hours sittings. When I come home from my SECOND job in the evenings, there he is in that room, while dirty dishes sit in the sink, trash piled up, no laundry done... so then, my THIRD job begins... Cleaning up after him because he can't unglue himself from the computer chair. His solution to the problem is to try and get me interested in playing the game along with him. My solution is to move out.
Lori - The simplest responce is dump him and move on.
In general...I find this topic interesting. As a single guy I guess I am coming at this from the opposite direction.
I watch very hard (and fear I fail more than succeed) to not favor my MMO;s of choice over RL.
I feel that if I had RL friends in these games it could enhance the experince. But would the cost of loosing more opportunities for interacting with others be worth it??
Lori - I'm in a very similar situation. It's really just hit me this morning how much this game is affecting me. Doesn't it sound a little ridiculous to say that a video game is ruining my relationship? But, it's true. I've thought about whether or not this could be a symptom of a bigger problem, but I really don't think that is the case. WoW is incredibly addictive. When I can get him away, he's sweet, attentive, and loving. If we're in the same room as a computer, however, I cease to exist.
I'm tired of feeling ignored. I'm tired of fighting for his attention. I'm tired of having the same argument over and over again.
I just love(d?) our relationship so much. I'm not sure if I can/should just move on. That seems to extreme. But talking about the issue hasn't gotten me anywhere. If anything, it's gotten worse over the past 6 months.
Help...my heart hurts.
Did you all read the article? This article was about family, friends, loved ones, and close people playing together and how that affected their relationships whether online or in RL.
Have you all tried playing with your loved one? I'm not saying it is the answer but a lot of others seem to be able to have some kind of relationship with their spouse when doing so.
You all might want to try: Eq-widows are a place like that. Their are others in your shoes that share their lives there. Might help.
Hi guys. I'm actually doing research on how relationships are affected by online gaming. I am in the same boat with Lori and Renee. My guy doesnt slack a whole lot around the house, but ANY free time goes into gaming. I game myself a little, but not online. we have discussed playing this game together, but money and his aggresive mode in gaming became topics of concern. i now have a newer fear after reading the post where the gentleman met his wife via online gaming. i'm not sure how to address this logically and as to not completely ruin his "fun time". we both work hard and go to school, i dont want to take this from him all together. i only want equal quality time for myself. so the best i came up with was to do some research and show him i'm not being overly dramatic. does anyone know of any articles in gaming monthly or likewise reputable sources? email me. firstname.lastname@example.org and good luck to all.
While my boyfriend may play alot of WoW, I see it as fair enough. Its his time out, hobby and escape for the real world. If it keeps him sane, who am i to argue? As long as I am warned before i come over if he is going to be hours on the computer, i dont mind. I do however, have issues if he uses it as an excuse to get out of something, ie a date. in saying that, we dont live together, so hes yet to use it against me for household chores.
What a great site. Thanks
I play with my girlfriend personally, and I know that she plays to play with me in large part, but we have a lot of fun. I feel bad though that I get frustrated at her when she isn't performing at what I consider a 'par' level. we have started a whole army of characters together, but I ultimately end up outstripping her in levels too quickly. I think that makes her want to play less though, so this time around, I'm taking it slow and meticulously crafting her into an effective cognizant player. Is it weird that I see her as a ward, and not as a peer?