Players often talk about the community that keeps us hooked to WoW. One of the most common things I hear from players is "even though there's nothing I really want to do in the game, I stay for the people." Players who quit often lament leaving behind friends, or losing friends who have quit.
I was pondering this recently after reflecting on my own relationships in game. My history of online interactions begins with AIM, chatting only with other classmates that I regularly hung out with. This continued basically until college. It was only after I started playing WoW that I became used to the idea of talking to random people online. My first guild had some really wonderful people, and I chatted with them regularly. I went to my first anime convention with them (it was certainly...an experience, but we did see a girl in a totally rockin Alexstraza costume), took some to Universal Studios, even met one for a movie during the throes of a particularly ill-advised e-crush.
Since moving to Japan I have essentially lost contact with all of them, except for the guy I was closest to, who sometimes messages me from his phone before going to work. I would blame this on the time difference, since I know it's also affecting my meatspace relationships something fierce. But I also think it's a uniqueness of virtual interactions as well. I realize that many people are capable of having very deep and meaningful relationships via the internet, be they friendship or romance, and I don't doubt or scoff at that. What I've realized is that I personally have a hard time connecting to internet friends.
It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm becoming more and more of a loner in meatspace, too. I have a few very close friends, lots of close acquaintances, and the patience to meet them every other week or so. I often prefer the quiet of my house to all-night parties, although I've found green text an immense comfort when farming in the solitude of alt-land (AKA everywhere but Org). I try to remind myself of adages like "friends for a reason, friends for a season" and take a more laid-back, Japanese approach to interaction. So even if I can only talk to my favorite hunter every 2 weeks due to our schedules, I still make the most of that time by catching up.
The game is enjoyable all on its own to me - just look at all the stupid achievements I've grinded! Even without a vibrant community to be part of, I would still play my alts and pimp out my main, and probably mourn not being able to raid. There is, however, a certain comfort in green text, especially if I can just read and only occasionally participate. Even being online with only 2 others, questing in companionable silence, is comforting in a way.
Blogging reflects this playstyle, I think, in that it's static communication where I can post only to amuse myself, and get the occasional comment that reminds me I'm not alone. I can read other blogs and feel community, and participate when I feel like commenting. Twitter is similar, although I think it allows for more interaction. It is my new project - I'd like to have real conversations with bloggers I admire. Dare I say it, I'd like to make some more ~internet friends~!