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DRAVEN: HOSTILE ARSENAL`Crusade GUARDIANS PierceTheVeins Fenris Mastermind Vengeance LEGION ELITE Imperial SUPERIOR Descendants REVENGE AllStars CONQUEROR CONQUEST Renegades Celestial Beings Enrage ... [go]

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Love is in the Air

About 40% of female players and 15% of male players have told another player about their romantic feelings for them. Again, we see very few age differences.

And finally, about 29% of female players and 8% of male players have physically dated someone who they first met in an MMO. Again, it's hard to discern a strong age difference. Both these percentages feel very high, and the only other data point I have comes from the 2000 survey on EQ players, where the corresponding numbers were 15% and 3% (so almost double of what was found 6 years ago). Now, the other thing may just be that the survey respondents are skewed towards more involved players who are thus more likely to report relationships. So I tried to see if the likelihood of physically dating someone increased dramatically with hours played per week. The correlation came out at r = .07, not strong enough to have a dramatic effect. In other words, even if heavy time involvement was a general sampling bias among the respondents, it has only a mild impact on these particular percentages.

Question for readers: Do you know anyone who is dating (or has dated) someone they first met in an MMO? If you've played MMOs for a few years, have you noticed an increase in these kinds of relationships?

Note: If you've physically dated someone who you first met in an MMO, please consider taking some time to tell me about your experience in this survey.



I have a Dutch friend who almost had a girl from Norway fly over to him because they were in love with eachother. But she changed her mind and broke his heart.

Posted by: Stephan Moed on June 12, 2006 1:20 AM

I have a friend who was dating her guild leader in EQ. (He was also from a different country.) They met in-game, he liked her and took care of her in the game, and things went from there.

It didn't work out, but they actually got together a few times OOG before she decided the age gap was too difficult to cross (she was 10-15 years older than he was).

I haven't seen enough to know if there has been an increase in this behavior. However, the Internet has become an "acceptable" way to meet people, whether in chat rooms or dating services, or the like -- and it would only make sense that people who are involved in a mutual activity both enjoy would be more likely to fall in love and begin dating.

(I do know quite a number of couples in reverse -- married couples or dating couples who then began to play CoH).

I have also participated in Second Life and note that -- where there is more opportunity to customize your avatar, more emphasis on "real life" per se, and simply more expected -- romance is far more common. People are also allowed to marry "officially" in the game. I've seen extravagant weddings, and there's actually a wedding business... and of course the sex trade booms there as well.

In those cases, relationships are a little more like real-life. Things get hairy for people who are a couple in SL if an opportunity occurs for real-life relationships. I know someone who broke up with their SL mate (whom they cared about a great deal) because they began a significant relationship in RL. They're still close friends, but in this case a real-life relationship took precedence.

Posted by: Fortunato on June 12, 2006 7:09 AM

I met my husband through EQ. We met in a guild and were online friends for about 4 months before first meeting. Love at first sight. We are married now with a young son. I would not say it's common but we happened to live close enough to make weekend drives while dating.

Posted by: Mom on June 12, 2006 1:09 PM

Online MMO relationships... love BEFORE first sight? o.O

Posted by: Jonathan on June 12, 2006 1:50 PM

In response to your question, yes I do. Two examples, in fact.

1) My (real-life) best friend has been seeing this one girl he knows from Final Fantasy XI. I was skeptical about it at first, but the two of them have had phone conversations (right in front of me, in fact), and they've both left their home state to visit each other at some point. They've also exchanged gifts. I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised at how well they seem to be getting along.

2) Two people, whom I only know online, have actually met and gotten married. I've sadly dropped out of contact with them, but last I know they were still happily married. If they are, they've been together for 3-4 years now.

I think the potential for interpersonal online communication is finally being reached. People are beginning to understand the upsides and downsides of meeting others online and becoming more comfortable with it. While it won't replace actually meeting people face-to-face anytime soon, the ability to meet people almost anywhere in the world is finally producing real-world effects.

And I, for one, am ecstatic about it.

Posted by: Faulkon on June 12, 2006 8:13 PM

I actually know several couples who met online, then dated and in one case was later married. The couple that married still plays MMOs together, although they've migrated from EQ where they met, to WoW, which to my knowledge they still play. Other couples have dated for a time, then broken up for differences, but for the most part, the relationships are still ongoing.

Posted by: JThelen on June 13, 2006 1:57 AM

I am actually dating a woman I met via WOW. Have been together for 3 months now and everything is going strong.

Posted by: ABToon on June 13, 2006 2:54 AM

I'm a guy from the Netherlands and I met my wife just outside of Auberdine (World of Warcraft).
We now both live in Sweden and she's 5 months pregnant. We've never been happier!

Posted by: CyberSliver on June 13, 2006 5:54 AM

I know a happily married couple who met in EQ and who still game together every night... in fact they switched to WoW b/c her son who lives in Europe can't handle EQ and can handle WoW and this way they play as a family.

Another set of former guildmates were a "mismatch"-- he about 23 she close to 40-- but it seems to be working and they have a gorgeous baby now, too.

I have guildmates who met in EQ, and when he had a heart attack she moved halfway across the country to take care of him. They're still together.

On the other hand I had a guildmate in a previous guild who had one disasterous romantic entanglement after another all based on her EQ connections. But then that was what her RL was like as well.

And yet another former guildmate (male) who fell in love w/ every female who talked w/ him for any length of time I think... he's currently engaged to a woman and they'll marry as soon as she can get divorced (not holding my breath).

What is more natural than an emotional relationship that grows out of working together to solve dangerous problems and either failing or succeeding b/c of mutual effort? MMOGs are more than chat rooms! You get to see how people handle stress, crises, danger-- are they selfish or selfless? Responsible or careless? etc etc etc.

Posted by: Mari on June 13, 2006 8:51 PM

I met my girlfriend in Project Entropia/the forums related to Project Entropia.

We both started playing while we were in a relationship, but ended up breaking up the relationship. Not too long after her and me found out that despite the fact we had both figured we would remain single for a while, there was a romantic interest going on.

I ended up driving from Holland to Denmark to help her move her stuff in November. In December we saw one another again, and I spent new year's there.

Since January, we have seen one another every two weeks (thanks to discount plane companies), and yesterday we celebrated our 8th month "anniversary".

For the stats, I'm 30, she's 36.

The Project Entropia forum (unofficial) even ran a news article on us:

(Yes, she's a hotty)

Posted by: Peter on June 13, 2006 10:57 PM

Met my current partner in Neverwinter Nights. After nearly three years of living together, we are getting married next year.

I will admit I don't recommend it, though, unless you are very certain of your feelings, on both sides, and make sure you don't hurt others in the process, which is easily done.

Posted by: Aisla on June 14, 2006 3:32 AM

I develop[ed a strong romantic attachment to two Females while playing SWG. As a result of jealousy it nearly destroyed my Guild of which I was Guild Leader .

Posted by: Articfire on June 14, 2006 6:27 AM

I met someone in wow about a year ago. He is much younger than me - 15 years. We are both married to other people. We have never met in rl, but we have had some amazing close moments. He was able to seek support from me when he decided to ask his wife for a divorce (I was not the reason). I have leaned on him so much for support as I deal with an internet addicted emotionally abusive and neglectful husband. I feel so lucky to have found this man and I will never forget the joy he has brought into my life.

Posted by: Arial on June 16, 2006 9:45 AM

My sister is rather involved with a Lebanese WoW player from her guild. She had a big row with our parents over their not allowing her to fly to Lebanon, and 3 days later, HE shows up on OUR doorstep, for a 3-week vacation.

Posted by: ub on June 19, 2006 8:30 PM

Keep in mind that (as your sample attests) there are many more male than female gamers. As a result, assuming the majority of gamers are heterosexual, females have much greater opportunity to meet and interact with prospective partners than males. So the gender differences in the sample probably don't mean very much. Particularly the last question regarding the percentage of people who've physically dated someone they met online. Odds are many more males would answer affirmatively if the gender split online was closer to 50-50.

Posted by: Zydrunas Ilgauskas on June 23, 2006 3:37 PM

Zyd - That's why I don't focus on the gender differences at all in the write-up, because they are an artifact of the overall gender ratio. Nevertheless, it is important to show the percentages separately for men and women because showing the overall mean would be misleading as well.

Did you get the sense that I was making a big deal of the gender differences from somewhere?

Posted by: Nick Yee on June 23, 2006 4:16 PM

I have to say that I'm very skeptical about both the number of respondants reporting themselves as female, and the number of male players 18-22 who have physically dated someone they met online. 33%? It beggars belief. (Not trying to poo-poo your survey, just saying that the results seem suspect.)

Posted by: random on June 23, 2006 5:55 PM

i dont like this, its stupid, and boring. i think dating online should be banned.

Posted by: hannah on June 26, 2006 10:26 AM

I thought online dating was stupid and boring too. That is until the guy that I had been talking to and casually playing games with for the past few years suddenly was everything I could think about.

It's not like I went looking for love online. It just happened, much like it just happens in real-life. We lived in different countries and now live together, and couldn't be happier.

Posted by: Katie on June 26, 2006 11:55 AM

In my eight years or so of playing assorted games I have seen two good rl friends start dating someone they met in game and in both cases they ended up moving in with/marrying the person.

I haven't seen any increase in people dating those they met in game, but I have seen more people getting their rl girl/boyfriends into playing online with them.

Posted by: EricB on June 28, 2006 11:15 AM

Ways to know you are an uber-geek ...

Posted by: Jesus Wept on July 4, 2006 9:51 PM

I personally know 4 couples, two who are married and tw0 engaged to be married, who met in SWG. All are doing great.

Posted by: Pat on July 12, 2006 8:34 PM

I met my partner in WoW over a year ago, we lived 2000 km's apart and now live together since 4 months. Never been happier :)

Posted by: Djara on July 13, 2006 4:36 AM

Hi Nick,

We're the guys that interviewed you at the Games & Learning Conference, making that documentary on MMOs.

We're looking for couples that met in an MMO and then became an RL couple- specifically those in driving distance of NYC, so we can film them.

Do you- or anyone reading this- know of anyone who fits the bill?


Posted by: Victor Pineiro on July 13, 2006 8:28 AM

I have noticed that online relationships are becoming increasingly important relative to RL ones.

This can be a positive: Two of my guild mates in conquer online started dating after meeting online. He was from New Zealand, she was from the US. He moved to the states. As far as I know, they're still together.

It can also be a negative: my wife and I both play MMOs. One of my wife's close friends on the game (lets call him Bob) recently and suddenly decided to switch to a new MMO. I have no proof, but I suspect one of the reasons for the change was that Bob's RL wife was becoming jealous of Bob's close friendship with my wife. I didn't feel left out because I play the game and participate in many of their conversations. Bob's wife is not a gamer, so she felt shut out (she even started referring to her as Bob's "online wife").

In some ways I feel that I know many of my online friends better than my RL ones. MMOs allow you to make moral/ethical decisions w/o the RL consequences, and thus in some ways a person's online behavior reveals more about them than their RL behavior. I can see why MMO dating would be on the rise.

Posted by: Sam on July 16, 2006 7:56 AM

I was struck by the large divergance between the women flirting etc vs men. I would have thought it would be the other way round. Personally I met my current gf in WoW 2 months ago. It's summer and the last thing I was looking for was a serious relationship, especially not expecting to meet one through WoW. I friend of mine met his fiancee trhough msn, and I kept asking him and her how it happened involved and I was curious as to how such a dynamic would work. Little did I know that it would happen to me too ^^.

Posted by: Inithiel on July 18, 2006 1:16 AM

A guy I work with is married to a woman he met in EQ2. I'm not sure about specifics but he has told me many times that's how they met.

Posted by: Joe on July 18, 2006 9:26 AM

I don't know if relationships originating from games are becoming more common, but I have had close contact with a few myself.

My partner and I have been gaming together since 1999, currently playing WoW but we tend to drift between a few games (EQ2, AO) and he plays text-based MuD's as well. About 2 years after we started playing EQ a friend who was also in a long-term relationship asked about the game and if it would be something they could enjoy together. We actually warned them off playing but they were keen so we started them up on our server, and it was a lot of fun for the first few months. After awhile though it was clear that she was a lot more interested and addicted than he was (he got to lvl 47, she to lvl 70) She then became sexually involved with a few people online. I say sexually because thats what it was, she would engage in quite elaborate "cyber" of which he was aware. But it did become serious with one of her online partners. He was also a guild leader and yes she did get lots of "phat loots" because of her various activities, and not just from him. Long story short, she ended up dumping my friend after nearly 11 years together in a quite horrible fashion and moved to another country to marry this guy. As far as I know they are still very active in whatever game they play together, and still together after 3 years or so now.

Another of my friends met her husband in an online game, but nothing as salacious as the former. They were both single and got along really well. They took it slow and both went to their respective countries to meet each other before committing to anything more than good friendship. She has since moved to his home and they are happily married after 2 years.

So I've experienced the best and worst that can happen, secondhand at least. The communicative aspect of online communities fascinates me (linguistics major, strong focus on sociolinguistics and the philosophy of language) and the fact that people do build strong relationships via the so-called restrictive medium of text is interesting for many reasons. But as someone already said online dating is becoming more acceptable at least, if not more prevalent.

Posted by: Tsais on July 18, 2006 11:11 PM


The site is extremely impressive.
One question with your last graph leaps to mind, though. Presuming mostly heterosexual relationships, how is the discrepancy which you find possible? If 1/3 of 18 to 22 year-old males have dated someone from online, but only 6.5% of the females of the same age have, and you further take into account the fact that 85% of gamers are male, each one of those females must have dated well over a dozen males for your statistic to be remotely close to true.
I think that you are right on the whole in claiming that the self-selecting nature isn't going to compromise your stats, but in this case, it appears that the male ego led to serious response bias: saying they had done what they merely wish to have.
I'm currently working on an article on internet relationships for The New Atlantis, and would be quite interested to hear what you have to say.


Brian Boyd

Posted by: Brian Boyd on August 3, 2006 12:45 PM

Hey Brian - It's the other way around. It's around 30% of women and 6.5% of men. So the numbers do work out approximately ok.

Posted by: Nick Yee on August 3, 2006 1:06 PM

I love playing WoW, not so much for the game mechanics themselves, but for the corollary psychological happenings that result (and am also therefore a huge fan of this website). I am a female player on an RP server (Horde). The RP aspect didn't enthrall me that much until getting close to Level 60: oh, the drudgery. My character needed a reason to get up in the mornings; some inspiration to grind. And having been with her for so long, I found myself identifying quite strongly with her. My home life is pretty sad, so I began to hunt for the in-game joy that seemed impossible IRL. Her biography and inner life finally began to evolve quickly and spontaneously. My WoW character suddenly seemed more valid than my real self.
So, one day, a charming enemy paladin made the fatal mistake of being nice to her. Ah! Finally! Her reason to exist! Having to communicate through gesture and standard emotes only added to the imaginative fun and melodrama. My RP-ing went mad. She/I was unable to concentrate on grinding, let her/my honour decay through fear of meeting him in a BG, and she/I spent a lot of time mooning about in the swamp, philosophising to her pet raptor, and getting drunk in inns with the tragic pain of it all. I was horrified to discover that my char's crush on this in-game fellow had translated into chronic RL symptoms of infatuation, though I tried to deny it. And no crush would have developed at all if I knew there wasn't a real person controlling that character- the boundaries were messily blurred. She/I contacted him via letters sent by my Alliance alt (once again, in a strict RP fashion, despite my RL excitement) and things snowballed. The paladin's creator was charmed by the attention. Oh, sweet mystery of pixellated life, at last I've found you! I started chatting to and emailing him out-of-game, at his request.
It all went wrong. The paladin's owner was actually very earnest about finding a RL spouse. Despite the RL thrill of knowing I'd genuinely touched someone, I was forced to come clean, to him and to myself, about the fact that I was just playing a game that I took too RP-ingly seriously and perhaps had pushed things too far. I could not possibly acquiesce to his RL yearnings, yet was loath to give up the in-game drama. He was genuinely hurt and disappointed. He seemed like a truly lovely person and I felt, and still feel, rotten. But here's the question: who was taking the game too seriously- him or me?
This RP boundary blurring sometimes results in RL bliss, as evidenced by many posts above, and I think this is not only valid, and real, but rather wonderful. But It's a tricky minefield as well, as my experience attests. (I think it also proves my favourite point: Alliance character rollers, on the whole, lack a bit of imagination. And I lack a life). Caveat Ludor (May the player beware).

Posted by: Alison on August 4, 2006 8:13 PM

Never heard of anyone doing it to be honest. I really feel the results are a bit off too, no offense intended, but I don't see how it could be possible to get a perfect demographic slice of an MMO when you rely on sites putside of the MMO to survey the MMO-ers, resulting in just a survey of people that play "x" AND visit "".

Still some interesting results all the same.

Posted by: BMH on August 7, 2006 1:34 PM

Of my 4 serious relationships, 3 of the guys I met online in an MMO first. Countless other suitors, but I never let them get close enough to visit, much less have a relationship. Being a hardcore gaming female has its benefits, but dating online guys is just like dating guys IRL. Once you get in person you find there are rotten and good ones in the same proportion. Sometimes, it is harder to figure out which they are if they keep up the ingame facade though.

Posted by: on August 9, 2006 11:33 PM

I have played Guild Wars for 15 months now and I have seen people in love. I have been in relationship via GW myself, after 9 months of being together it just ended badly... She had lied to me about herself and lets just say its not nice to find out things from friends. Currently i feel so empty. I have been in love irl too and i could say that love is stronger via MMO's...

Posted by: on August 11, 2006 12:25 AM

Me and my boyfriend had our one year anniversary yesterday. I am from Denmark and he is from Finland, and we met online on a Neverwinter Nights roleplaying server. I have just come back from a visit to Finland, where I met his parents, and he has moved to Denmark and is trying to find work here, while he studies.
So, love on the internet can work out after all. :)

Posted by: Karen on August 12, 2006 2:11 AM

One time while playing an MMO, Runescape, my friend and I had an idea. My friend(both of us are male) had chosen the name of his GIRLFRIEND as his username, not knowing that this would be permanently used as HIS name(he also chose a male character). In Runescape, you can choose to switch between genders after the beginning of your file. One day, he decided to change his character's appearance to be a female. this move attracted the attention of one player(male), who kept flirting and showering my friend with gifts. We both had a good laugh at this fool, but my friend decided to continue a relationship with this unwitting chump for about two months (for giggles and gifts) Eventually, due to mistakes on my part, he learned he was MMO-dating a man, and was completely devastated, while I couldn't stop laughing, and my friend was frantic trying to convince this guy that he(my friend) really was a woman(poorly and humourously, I might add).

Just goes to show how futile online romances are.

Posted by: Anonymous on August 17, 2006 3:21 PM

Although I've never dated via MMO (being long-time married and playing with my husband :D) I've seen some interesting behaviour and effects:

One fellow (female) guild member serial dated (in RL) four fellow guild members. I'm sure no-one will be surprised to hear that the ex-boyfriends left the guild / game as she dropped each one. The situation seemed bizzare and painful for all involved - recommend you don't try this one...

Being chatted up (in a non-offensive way!) on-line... Something amusing in some-one young enough to be your son wanting to date you because you have an attractive toon - perhaps kids nowadays do need to get out more :P

As an opportunity to network and meet people, I guess MMOs are functioning like any other group-focussed hobby, so I'm not surprised that people use it to get together. I guess the RP aspect is what fascinates - but on non-RP servers I'm not sure the relationship is very different from an old fashioned 'pen-pal'.

Posted by: Abraxus on August 18, 2006 7:21 AM

I have certainly flirted, and had some quite "salacious" relationships via MMO's in my 4 years I have been playing them. You can really get a glimpse of the seamy underbelly of human society in a lot of ways.

I had one online "relationship" that became an elaborate master/slave thing. We never met except through talking on the phone and sending pictures back and forth. I probably would have pursued a real life relationship with this person had circumstances permitted it. We just lived too far apart and had different RL goals.

In many ways, online relationships are analagous to "IRL" ones. Like I said, I haven't crossed that romantic line and actually met someone romantically face-to-face from a game I have played. I would do it though.

I have, however, met a fellow guild leader "IRL." We even went to E3 together 2 years ago.

Posted by: Dorfman on August 30, 2006 10:51 AM

I had a relationship on nwn and fell in love with a younger woman from canada. She was a hottie too. We took care of each other in game to a wild extent. This went on for months and then she got to feeling some way and wouldnt talk much. She never would call me on the phone. The distance was to great for us to meet. She was 15 years younger than me and wanted an older man. She basically found another older man on same server who makes his time visiting the females he meets in game. And she now wants to be really good friends with me and says she dont know if she will let him meet her. But they talked on the phone whereas she never would call me.
So basically its been really bad for me. I dont want to be in my game of 4 years now. I might go to another server I just dont know at this point.
I sure wish I could read tells on that server. When she told me this basically broke me in half. I fell in love with her and never even talked on the phone. We sent pics of each other no need for email since we was always on server together or on msn in the Best chat of a lifetime :) . guess ill have to wait and see.

Posted by: on August 22, 2007 11:34 AM

I am so interested in the work you have done! I actually had no idea the percentages were so high for females to date males after meeting them in game.

I am a female, and I met my boyfriend through Dark Age of Camelot over 5 years ago. I'm from Pennsylvania and he is from California. We married in game for kicks, and then through random circumstances we actually met. I had traveled to California for vacation and saw him on AIM, remembered he was in the area, and asked if he wanted to meet up. We met up at Disneyland, had an absolutely fantastic time, met a couple more times IRL and after half a year began dating. I ended up moving to California for my degree and we've been together for over two years now.

Posted by: Babycarrots on April 5, 2009 12:07 PM
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