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Online relationships - whether platonic or romantic - are sometimes slightly troubling even to those of us who have played an MMORPG like EverQuest.

In fact, that concept bothers me for some reason. Especially if you go and get Married online. I mean, yeah, I can understand you "liking" to adventure with someone a lot ... but to the point of "marrying" them? In an online ceremony? Come on... isn't real life complicated enough? [m, 28]

To outsiders, and particularly those who are unfamiliar with internet chat rooms, the concept is almost frightening. How can a player develop a good friendship or fall in love with someone in a make-believe world? How can a player feel like they know, or trust, someone whom they have never even met face to face? For the most part, the following is not an essay that tries to justify or criticize the quality of relationships formed online; instead, it is an exploration of several mechanisms inherent in MMORPGs that facilitate the formation of these relationships.

Survey data collected from players of EverQuest (EQ), Dark Age of Camelot (DAOC), and Ultima Online (UO) consistently show that online relationships of both a platonic or romantic nature are fairly prevalent in MMORPGs.

Players also indicate that these relationships are fairly substantial and meaningful.

Copyright, October 2002, by Nicholas Yee

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