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Playing video games can be so much more than just a pastime. Especially Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) are fertile soil for new friendships. In this episode of The Gamer Within we shed some light on people who made friends for life in online games.
The giant black dragon Nefarian, who is the final boss in the Black Wing Lair, falls after just about five minutes into the fight. The well-coordinated 40-player raid acts as one entity, reacts perfectly to the attacks of the fiend, slaying him with ease. It is just another Thursday for Evo and his guild in the – at that time – most challenging raid dungeon in World of Warcraft: Classic.
Evo is the guild leader of Above Average, one of the best guilds on the German Classic server “Venoxis”. To him, playing WoW with his guild is more than just a game. “The guild means passion. Just like in team sports, it is much more gratifying to reach our goals together as a group as opposed to do so individually,” explains the MMO enthusiast in our interview.
Besides from his real-life friends who joined him in founding this guild last summer, the Rogue player has met quite a few people while playing. “There are some people I’ve become friends with. I like that we can also talk about topics outside the game and find common interests.” Although most of his guild-mates live far away, the bond they formed already transcended into real-life.
Meeting new friends in real-life
In late 2019, only three months after Classic’s launch, the newly-founded guild met on one of Germany’s many famed Christmas markets to talk, have a drink and get to know the people behind the nicknames and adventures. Usually people often joke around when it comes to real-life gatherings and keep postponing. Above Average did not.
Evo has a long history with Blizzard’s MMORPG, playing the game when it launched first until around 2011 (with some breaks in between). He even kept some friends from his early days, with whom he is still in touch with today. “When Burning Crusade came out in 2007, I met a guy who’d become a good friend. We got along so well, I visited him in Switzerland shortly after, and he came to Germany. We are still friends and he attended my wedding last year.” His Swiss friend also rejoined him for Classic, albeit for just a short time. What remains is their friendship outside the game.
Why we socialise in MMOs
Stories like Evo’s are fairly common in MMOs and other gaming communities. They are testimony that the cliché of anti-social gamers is but a myth. World of Warcraft may be the most prominent example, however, people making friends online exist in any given MMO. No matter if you take a look at Everquest 2, Age of Conan, or The Elder Scrolls Online: The games prove that they are also a means to socialise, make new acquaintances and maybe friends for life. Some very lucky players even find their significant other while adventuring online.
If you have ever played any MMO for some time, you can certainly relate to these stories. Most MMOs require the players to cooperate in order to overcome the manifold challenges these games pose to them. It is only natural that players start uniting in guilds or similar collectives to maximize their collaboration. In doing so, they become a part of something bigger, a social entity.
In such social constructs, they interact with the same people on a daily basis, talk to one another on Teamspeak or Discord, thus getting to know each other quite well. For some people, their online friends are also an outlet for their problems in real-life, where they find support, advice or just somebody to listen.
In Evo’s opinion, everybody needs something they have passion for, be it their work, their favourite football club or in his case an MMO guild. Soon, WoW is going to take a smaller role in Evo’s life, as he is about to become a dad. But he is confident that he will still find time for his new friends and maintain his friendships, even if Blizzard decides to move on with remastering WoW addons. “My dream would be to play with my mates even after Classic,” he muses. After all, friendships truly go beyond games at some point.