Many players have made good friends or fallen in love in the game. About 40% of players feel that their online friends are comparable or even better than their real life friends. While it may seem strange that strong relationships can develop in these worlds where everyone is pretending to be someone else, the architecture of these environments actually facilitates these relationships.

People are more willing to talk about personal issues when they can maintain their anonymity, and about 30% of MMORPG players have told personal issues or secrets to online friends that they have never told anyone else. These environments also encourage people to form trusting bonds with each other by repeatedly placing players in spontaneous and stressful crises that require players to work together in order to survive. And most importantly, players are pre-selected to be compatible with each other because MMORPGs are a very specific form of entertainment. People who enjoy gradual advancement in a fantasy world where they take on roles as ogres and elves are not a random slice of the population.

Once we lay out how these environments encourage relationships to form, we also begin to see that people make friends and fall in love in a very different way than they do in real life. In real life, we learn about a person casually before intimate details are shared. In MMORPGs, intimate details are often shared before knowing where a person lives in real life. In real life, we make friends with someone and eventually a crisis occurs and we figure out whether we can trust them. In MMORPGs, crises occur so often that players can choose to only befriend those who have demonstrated their loyalty and courage. In more ways than one, we make friends and fall in love almost in reverse in MMORPGs.

External Links:

- The Sopranos Meets EverQuest: Social Networking in Massively Multiplayer Online Games by Mikael Jakobsson and T.L. Taylor
- The Social Side of Gaming by Nicolas Duchenaut and Bob Moore

The Daedalus Gateway - The Psychology of MMORPGs

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