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MMORPGs as social outlets. April 27, 2009

Posted by castillion in EQ2, My lovely wife, Second String.
Tags: , , , ,

Let me start off by saying that I realize that the content of this post is not ground-breaking and that there has been tons of discussion over the years about MMO’s as social outlets. However, I think that personally I’ve reached a point in my life, with kids and responsibilities, and, perhaps, age, that have changed the way I spend my “fun” time and the way I interact with those that share my interests. Thus, the subject is at the forefront of my thoughts.

I’ve been playing MMORPG’s for over 9 years now. I started with Everquest 1 in late 1999. I was 24 years old. I had just moved to Denver from Dallas to go back to college. (I had dropped out my first attempt for reasons that many young men drop out at that age, the blush of first love) It was kind of a clean sweep on life for me as I was accepted to the school and moved within 3 months time, not knowing a soul in Colorado. The placement agency for the College housed me with 3 17 year old guys fresh out of high school. Now, I liked those guys, but there was a huge disconnect between my life experiences and theirs.

I was browsing the shelves of my local gaming store when I spotted the box for Everquest. I had no idea what an online game was, or what to expect at all. I loved playing table top games though, things like Dungeons and Dragons, and I bought the game hoping it would mirror my table top experiences. I also hoped it would allow me to connect with other like people as I was dedicated to my schooling and under no circumstances was I going to spend my time partying and raising Cain. My time was to be spent with my nose to my book or relaxing in front of the computer.

Well, that only lasted till I met the first hot little college girl that liked older men, but it’s the thought that counts right? (I did manage to keep my grades up though ;)

Nine years is a long time and my life has had many ups and downs. Relationships have come and gone, I’ve had the blessings of children, I met and married my wife, I’ve changed careers, followed by changing jobs and I’ve lived in 4 different states. The one constant has been the draw of MMORPGs and the friends I’ve made there. In fact, one of my longest and dearest friends, Stormraven, I met in Everquest probably a month after I bought the game. We’ve talked daily for 9 years now and have met in real life as well.

I don’t mean it to sound like I’ve logged on daily for the past nine years. I haven’t. There were long periods when I did not log into an MMORPG at all. I spent most of that time working full time and going to school in the evenings. I also played softball, played in a pool league, a poker club and various other pursuits that go along with those (i.e. – drinking beer and….pursuing).

I always came back though, at some level or another. In fact, it was during one of my returns from sabbatical that I met my wife. You’ve probably already read that story here so I will spare you the retelling.

Since meeting Sinnir, my “in-game” time has increased, partly because it’s something we both enjoy together and thus I can spend more time playing video games and it qualifies as together time :) and partly because our lives and levels of responsibility have changed. Children, money, responsibility, the economic downturn (had to work that in) make “going out” with any amount of regularity impossible.

So, we’ve turned to “going in”. We’ve cultivated friendships online that are an alternative to the relationships we may have once formed “in real life”.

Most of us have probably heard it from family or friends. “Are you playing that computer game AGAIN? Don’t you want to go out?” Online games seem strange to the unfamiliar yet those same people would not bat an eye to hear you are heading out to play poker with the guys, or to your book club, or even out to the bar. MMORPGs can be, at least to me, as rewarding socially as any of those activities.

This has been reinforced for me personally in spades over the last year that Sinnir and I have spent with Second String. Our crew has gotten together to spend New Year’s, Birthdays, and other holidays together. We exchange birthday cards, Christmas presents and we worry about each other. We just spent a weekend celebrating Anep’s and Taylona’s birthdays. When Sinnir asked me what I would like to do for my upcoming birthday, I couldn’t think of anything I would enjoy more than getting onto vent with those crazy bastards and sharing a few beers and laughs.

I guess it’s a virtual way of getting everyone around the kitchen table to play pictionary, getting drunk, and making fun of each other except no one has to drive home and everyone can dirty up their own porcelain throne.

This is a long winded way of saying that MMORPGs are more than just a way for the stereotypical basment dwelling introverts to sit home in the dark. They can also be a fun rewarding social outlet for a huge variety of people. MMORPGs have personally introduced me to one of my oldest and dearest friends, to new career opportunities and to the love of my life.

Even geeky computer games have their positives ;)



1. Caladwen - April 28, 2009

Nice post! I definitely agree with you on this. Having played EQ2 for a little over 2 years, I’ve made some awesome friends in-game. My RL friends often give me a hard time when I choose not to go out with them and play EQ2 instead, jokingly of course. Now if only I could get them to play EQ2 as well… ;)

2. rao - April 28, 2009

Very good post! The constant barrage of arguments gets more than just a little tiring at times. “You need to find something else to do with your time than playing video games.” “Well, any suggestions? What do you do with your time?” “Well, on Mondays, I watch these programs. On Tuesday, I watch these programs. On Wednesday…”

Why is it that sitting in front of the television watching crap like American Idol is accepted and even expected but playing an MMO where you are fostering friendships and interacting with other people still such a stigma?

Hypocrisy rules the day.

3. Kilanna - April 28, 2009


The friendships I have made playing EQ have changed my life in a very real way. I think I am a different and better person because of them. Some of my family dont understand it at all, and some are coming to understand it a little more.

There is nothing that I enjoy more than getting together with the boys for a mindless slaughter and chaos while having a couple of drinks. Everyone knows how fond I am of my boys and how important they are to me. I have even gotten together on quite a few occasions for dinner and drinks with some of my local guildmates.

However, as in any situation where there is social interraction, you do get to see and experience some of the ugly and nasty side of people too. Thank goodness for /ignore

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