Someone once said “Hey it’s no big deal, it’s just a game right?”. As a kid, those games of jacks or playing war were always competitive but the statement held true. At the end of the day it was just a game and you could walk away and go back to being friends with your nemesis of twenty minutes prior. The games we play evolved over time and became not only part of daily life for a lot of people, but a part of culture for us. Take a look at the Nintendo Entertainment System, even if you never owned one you know about it. Products bearing it’s symbol are still present.
Fast forward to the discovery of the MMORPG. I played Ultima Online for a good long while as a teen, and then moved away for other endeavors (see trying to be a rock-star). I came back to the MMO scene with City of Heroes and of course World of Warcraft. What stands out about these games is not just the amazing content they can provide and the hours(years) of enjoyment they bring you, but you get to talk and do things with friends and other people. Working towards a common goal whether it is downing a boss or capturing the opposing factions flag still feels great at the end of the night no matter what if you can do it with your friends. It’s that aspect of the game more then anything else that draws me into Warcraft.
Warcraft is a rareÃ‚Â and unique snowflake. Not only has it set the bar unbelievably high for game content and playability,but the community that has sprung up around it has gone beyond the normal social aspects of any other MMO. There is a feeling of comradeship and competition that spans millions upon millions of people. The first time the true scope of the community hit me was when I read the story of Ezra Chatterton, otherwise known as EPhoenix. He passed away October of 2008, but before that touched so many of our hearts with his visit to Blizzard’s HQ as part of a make a wish deal. Hunter season 2 crossbow? That was his idea. It was also a wonderful way for the company to give back to a kid who found true joy playing their game with his father. When his ailment was reported, the outcry and comments from thousands upon thousands of people wishing him well, making characters on his server just to say hi and see how he was doing and even digging in their own pockets to donate funds was overwhelming. It was one of the largest showings of concern and care I’d seen in a long long while. When he passed millions of players mourned together. We has lost one of us, and we grieved as one. That was just one life, one player, one character.
Think back on your own travels through WoW. Have you ever had a friend you made in game that turned out to have a large impact on your life? Did you meet your potential love in real life while running an instance? Do you find yourself making friends in game and then moving those relationships outside of the game? I’m guessing more then a few of you do. I know I do. Lets look at some of the social parts of the game.
The guild is the family unit of the game. You play together,craft together, and more often then not raid together. You share your victories and your defeats with them. You spend the majority of your time in a guild. Think about it, You spend your time with these people like a family or coworkers, and over time you develop strong bonds with some of them. Take a moment and look back on it. I’m sure you can think of a few people who you met through your guild that you considered a close friend or confidant. Like families your guild will also interact with other guilds on your server who are of a like minded direction. They tend to flock together. Top end raiding guilds all know each other, the “brass” so to speak knows each other and interact on a regular basis much like families in the same neighborhood would. I’m sure you know more then a few people from other guilds around the same tier as yours pretty well. Your guild also more then likely has some form of website or forum that lets you keep in touch, even with those who leave the game.
WoW Websites / Blogs
I’m a recent addition to this world in many ways, but it’s still amazing to me the sense of community you get when you browse private blogs and websites dedicated to the game. I have met so many people through these sites, not just as a writter here at World of Matticus but through reading other’s blogs, following them on twitter and even randomly finding them on facebook. Talking about the game has bled over into talking about real life. Sure there will always be exceptions but I find more often then not bloggers and people who put their WoW ways up on the Internet are a friendly bunch (in my case the term jovial has been applied). You yourself probably have had interaction with a blogger that has grown to what you would call friendship. Communities like Plusheal are great examples. So many people from all different servers sharing ideas, helping each other out with tips, strategies, loot ideas. You can even find WoW Twitters like Mine and Matt’s and in fact using such a site further highlights the sense of community. These sites bring us news of events like Ezra and highlight the triumphs and hardships of our gaming community. If not for websites like Plusheal I never would have met Matt, Syd and Wyn and lets face it, those three are pretty alright =D
The Friends list
Throughout your travels you’ve more then likely gathered a few friends that you’ve tossed on your list. Occasionally those friends are Real Life friends who happen to be in another guild, or sometimes ex guildies. Sometimes the game can cause a divide in a friendship and cause people to no longer speak out of game let alone in game. I’d like to share a bit about my friends that I’ve acquired through the game.
One of my best friends is a raiding warlock in my guild. We met through the game and found out we lived in the same city, all of 10 minutes away from each other. He has become one of my closest companions and is like a brother to me (talking about you Tim!). But I probably wouldn’t have met him if not for the game. In fact the vast majority of my guild. I talk to them outside of the game and look forward to events like Blizzcon as excuses to meet up with them have a few beers and share in a solid friendship that has be cultivated over the course of years. I miss some that have left the game to pursue other endeavors but I do try to keep in touch. And occasionally I’ll get a surprise like last night where friends of old that fell off all radars years ago pop back in the game with a fresh game card and their old level 60 toons.
One of my longest in-game friends left my guild a long time ago, but I always kept in contact. We talk whenever possible and its nice to catch up. She also listens to my rants which is a bonus and she helped me understand a lot about paladin healing when I switched over to healing lead and before I stumbled upon the websites here and Plusheal for information.
I met my girlfriend through the community as well. We started talking about being healers and the game and found out we had so much more in common. I recently made a toon on her server and was invited into the guild she is part of. Within minutes I was welcomed warmly and sincerely and was made to feel a part of the guild immediately. They are a great bunch of folk, and I never would have met her or them if not for the community surrounding WoW. I’m very glad to have met them and look forward to spending more time with them.
I lost a friend because of the game too. There was a disagreement over specs and honestly rather silly things. When the dust settled whether it was pride or whatever, I lost a real life friend that I had for years prior. It hurt but it’s just the nature of the game.
I’m in awe daily by the amount of people I get to talk to and interact with through twitter, this website and the game in general. That’s the part that really draws me to World of Warcraft, I love interacting with people. I find it so much more gratifying then say, just stomping goombas (although mario time will always be a treasured event). I think it’s safe to say that WoW has moved beyond being “just a game”.
So how about you? Have any stories of friendship gained or lost to share? Do you think the social aspect of WoW is what makes it such a powerhouse?
Until Next time, Happy Healing,
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