07 October 2011

Friends? In my internet?

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~!


  1. Hee! I completely understand what you mean. I love reading everyone's Twitter updates and getting the small sense that I know them a little better. I would also like to get more of a chance to know many of the bloggers out there ... they all seem like such interesting and opinionated folk!

  2. I have made many friends on the internet. Though I must say, I railed against AIM and AOL in the beginning. Email has been my vice of choice for very long. I played WoW 'awhile' back and only recently was turned back on to it by a 'IRL' friend. I've lost touch with age old real world friends as I too moved away. I could move back but I love where I am slightly more than where they are.

    LOL! This is becoming a confessional. I text all the time as well as have parlayed my love of email into a career. I'm a noob Nightelf Rogue. Not even sure 'where'. I just found your blog, but I'm glad i did.

  3. Not for nothing, but as soon as I saw this post come up on my feed reader I thought "Jeez, I haven't seen Beko on Twitter in forever."

    So there's that. Your tweeps miss you.

  4. I agree you can make friends on the internet. Is it any different from having pen pals? Where all you had was some common interests and then the friendship expanded from there? I have made lots of friends through WoW that they became my RL friends too - though I admit that if we did remove the game, the friendship would probably diminish a lot as well.

  5. Thought provoking.

    Mean, I actually have 2 friends who I speak to daily. Never met them. Though travelling half way across the world is a trip and a half, mind you! Though after playing games and interacting via voice comms for over 2 years, I can comfotablly talk to them just the way I do with my RL friends.

    Meatspace? That's a new one XD

    - Jamin

  6. @Tzufit: you are not kidding about opinionated! I love following blogger conversations.

    @Kreyfish: I'm really interested by you using email over instant message programs. Letter-writing has never been my strong suit, so I am similarly not great at long email conversations. Thanks for commenting! :)

    @Stormy: Aww! To be honest you are one of the first few who I thought "omg...if I go on twitter I can talk to this person directly!" I don't have a smart phone atm, so I have to be sitting at my computer to follow twitter. Add that to the fact that I frequently get overwhelmed by the amount of people are updating on it and I'm not a good tweeper. I need a walkthrough written for old ladies >_>

    @Navi: Yeah, I think it's definitely possible to have meaningful relationships through the internet. It just takes a little extra effort to meet up and interact in whatever medium you use. WoW just makes it sooo easy to do so! :D

    @Jamin: I'm glad to hear about your friends! When I go back to the US I will need to work extra hard to keep up with my Aussie friends, so I'm glad to see that you're doing it just fine. I use the word "meatspace" to talk about physical interaction because I don't like the implications behind "real life", since I think that everything I do and experience is part of my real life!