Making Online Friends Through MMORPGs

Although some disagree, for me one of the strongest sides of a MMORPG is the socialising aspect and the people we meet and friends we make. It’s quite amazing really, when you think about it, playing with folk from all over the world and all being united towards a common goal and sharing a common experience. I’ve also been very fortunate to make, what I would consider, good friends through these games and ones I still keep in contact with even when I don’t play the same game as them.

I made quite a few friends in my time playing Everquest but they were very transient. As soon as they or I stopped playing, we completely lost touch. Looking back at them, I wonder how deep those friendships really were. I guess they were pretty superficial considering I can’t even remember anyone’s name. Still, it’s odd thinking about just how much time we spent together. Logging in and grouping with someone for four hours or so every day for weeks wasn’t an uncommon experience and when you add it up, that’s a lot of time. Oddly enough, even though we rarely shared our real names, we often talked about our personal lives. I guess it’s the anonymity part of the Internet that people like – kinda like having a someone to tell your inner secrets and worries too without worrying about any consequences.

Although I’ve played several MMORPGs since Everquest, Everquest 2 was probably the next big leap for me in terms of making online friends. One reason was because of the time I spent in my guilds there, secondly because of the advent of voice chat, and thirdly because of social networking sites like Facebook.

The first ‘major’ guild I was in was on the Splitpaw European server. It was called The Mutineers (because we mutinied from our previous guild) and I was a co-founder. I had a blast grouping with my guildmates but there were two in particular (a married couple) who I grouped with most frequently and still keep in semi-regular contact with. In fact, I just received an email from them today and am about to send them my wedding photos. Although we’ve never met, I think it’s fantastic that we can share our lives with each other (awww).

The next major guild I was in, New Dawn, was on the Nagafen PvP US server and I met so many fantastic people there. It was also great to be able to part of a European guild on a US server and really get a full mix of individuals. Texans, Italians, Austrians, Scots… we had them all and it certainly made Ventrillo an interesting experience. I still keep in touch with quite a few guildies via Facebook which is great as I don’t play EQ2 very much at all these days.

Of course, all of this pales in comparison to my email-pen-pal I made 12 years ago and keep in touch with to this day. Still never met him. Maybe one day. Although I imagine we’ll finally meet in real life and discover we can’t stand each other :)

If you want to be my friend (who doesn’t?) then you can find me on Facebook.

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11 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Amusingly, I have a sticky note to discuss this very topic (From a different angle) soon.

  2. Tesh says:

    Heh, I don’t disagree that MMOs are a great venue to make friends in. I just disagree that such should be the goal of game design. ;)

  3. Openedge1 says:

    This is a good piece matching up with my post today on guild hardship.
    In the past I was REALLY into the guild structures. I have been in some great guilds that lasted a long time.
    But, as always happens, drama takes over. The “hidden” aspect we acquire within these games, and the anonymity some keep makes it easier for people to be a**hats!
    I grew tired of that avenue. The players became a means to an end, and solo play just ends up being more fun.
    I like some of the relationships…but they do not last.
    I agree with Tesh overall that the game should find a way to help players work together and not make it THE game.
    Hopefully I can realize how to be in a guild again and work together with people who all have a goal of having fun in the game…because when it becomes work to keep everyone together..
    I am not having fun anymore.

  4. Beej says:

    Almost the entire reason to play MMOs for me is to make friends (or keep up with the ones I already have who might have moved away). I’ve loved being able to meet up with friends from WoW I’ve met who live states and time zones away and have them crash on my couch for a week. It really makes it so that the game actually has some virtue and that the friendships are more real. Not to say that people I’ve never met IRL I don’t consider friends, but there is a certain kind of bond developed when you realize that someone is willing travel time just to hang out when you’ve only ever talked over vent or Facebook.

  5. [...] years later we still have people interested in the game. I believe part of the issue is that the social elements of games can be really compelling, especially for those of us who aren’t always comfortable going [...]

  6. Sharon says:

    My little WoW guild of the past four years has been dissolving rapidly in recent months as people quit the game and move on to other things, but since we’ve connected via Facebook, there’s less need to log in to the game just to catch up. I love those guys, and it’s so neat to think that while it was WoW that brought us together, it’s been sharing other stuff (weddings, moves, job changes, new babies, etc.) that’s kept us together. I’ve met a couple of them irl, and we’ve become very close offline friends now too. Our husbands enjoy joking with each other about how geeky their game-playing wives are. ;)

  7. Gordon says:

    @Tesh I completely agree, Tesh. I play a MMORPG because it’s a game, not because it’s social networking. As much as I love socialising, I see it has a part of MMORPGs not the point. It’s like any group activity or sport – we partake to play the game and doing it with people you like only enhances it further. I wasn’t thinking about you btw when I said “although some disagree” at the start :)

    @Sharon Definitely the power of the Internet and online gaming at it’s best when it can bring people together! A lot of critics say that these sorts of activities are ruining real social interaction but I actually think it’s enhancing it.

  8. JC says:

    My 1st MMO was Star Wars: Galaxies. I found I actually rather enjoyed the socializing in the cantinas, and so while the female toon I made was intended to be a combat-only toon in order to break the stereotype that all the females were entertainers of some stripe I did get talked in to becoming a Dancer and eventually went on to do musician and image design as well — so much for breaking sterotype, no?

    Anyway… I found the big entertainer groups you joined in order to maximize your healing xp to be a lot of fun with the chatting and such, and that toon eventually ended up joining an entertainers guild. I made a bunch of friends from it and am still in regular contact with 3 of them, even if it is “email only.” I have about 10 of them on my Facebook, I actually have met one of them IRL a few times. And when it comes down to it — that was why I played. The people I met playing. Once they started drifting away from the gam, I drifted as well — SWG by itself was rather boring, really.

    I switched to EQ2 when it came out. The game itself is interesting enough to me that I enjoy it whether solo or whatever. I’ve been in some awesome guilds, and have a couple of friends made from them that I’m in IRL (though “email only” again) contact with a few here and there. Currently I’m in an IRL friends guild with co-workers and family and such. It’s fun to play with them on weekends, and I don’t mind the rest of the week being “the solo scene.” Or I can play EVE the rest of the week too, and sometimes do.

    EVE’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax and this is already too long, though ;-)

  9. [...] them over a mic, it’s impossible to see their body language. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m totally into having online friends and I’ve got loads that I consider to be close ones. What I mean though is that I’m not [...]

  10. lucy jenny says:

    send me the latet on friends to know more

  11. lucy jenny says:

    switched to EQ2 when it came out. The game itself is interesting enough to me that I enjoy it whether solo or whatever. I’ve been in some awesome guilds, and have a couple of friends made from them that I’m in IRL (though “email only” again) contact with a few here and there. Currently I’m in an IRL friends guild with co-workers and family and such. It’s fun to play with them on weekends, and I don’t mind the rest of the week being “the solo scene.” Or I can play EVE the rest of the week too, and sometimes do.

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