The "Impossible" Romance
What it means to fall in love in an MMO
In the past, I've presented some stats on the romantic relationships that form online as well as some thoughts on how the social architectures of MMO environments may encourage relationship formation. In a recent survey, I was interested in exploring the formation of romantic relationships from the perspective of players who have physically dated someone they first met online. In particular, I wanted to get a better understanding of how the formation and development of these online relationships differed from ones these players have had that started face-to-face (F2F). Their narratives help illustrate that these online romances have their own set of constraints and affordances and are not simply inferior or superficial versions of F2F relationships.
I received 115 responses to an open-ended survey targeting players who have physically dated someone they first met in an MMO. The majority of these relationships were still ongoing when the survey was conducted (67%). Of course, there is likely a sampling bias here of players who have had positive and ongoing relationships in the sample. On the other hand, I was less interested here in getting representative stats, and more interested in a qualitative understanding of the issue. Nevertheless, it is important to point out this sampling bias so readers are aware that even though a lot of important information can be gleaned from the narratives that follow, these narratives are probably more positive in tone due to an under-sampling of failed relationships.
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