An Evolution of Friendship Through Online Gaming
When I was a kid, the rule of thumb was pretty much that the majority of your friends came to school or if you were lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that had others your age, maybe some from there. You would occasionally make a friend or two because your parents had friends who happened to have children around your age.
I was lucky in this regard. The school program I was in was a very tight knit one because we were a smaller group to begin with which means, for the most part, we stayed together for a few years. My mother was super active when it came to school parties and events to the point that most of my friends just called her Mom too. This made it even easier for me to make friends because she was always sympathetic to those kids who were not necessarily as well off as we were in their home lives. I was too young to understand this at the time; I was just happy she was so eager to let my friends come over and hang out.
Unfortunately, all things come to an end.
About the time I hit middle school, life started unraveling. My parents separated. My father moved states away and I stayed when I wanted to go because I couldn’t handle the thought of leaving my mom and younger brothers in such of being without me. I was separated from all the friends that I had acquired throughout elementary school. I was lucky to pass them in the hallways. This is about the when I started burying myself in games to cover the empty places in my time and heart.
Warcraft was the first game I played online. My mom had moved us an hour away from all of my friends and with long distance being a thing at the time, I had lost everyone I had once been close to. There came to be people that I played Warcraft with every day after school or most nights, but due to my concept of friendship at the time, I didn’t really consider them as such. I never noticed the shift in my perception until a couple years later, when plans were being put in place for me to meet one of them in person. Someone wanted to know who I was going to visit and I immediately replied back telling them that it was a friend without really thinking about the response until after the fact.
By the time I started with Second Life, my personal views had changed slightly; enough so that I viewed the people I played and chatted with regularly friends. They were just differentiated into a different category and deemed “online friends” and thus different from the ones I had in real life. This could be due to the fact that at this point in my life, I had moved out on my own and was more in control of my life. I had reconnected with most of the friends that I had cared about and lost, even started dating what could have possibly been considered my high school sweetheart.
Kingdoms at War rocked my world in terms of my concept of friendship. More years had passed. My relationship was falling apart and I was just generally unhappy. The game itself honestly was not super interesting, but the people were. I was loved and adored in ways not really expressed in my everyday life. These people that became my friends were easier to talk to; less judgmental than some of the people closest to me. They actually listened to what I had to say. They cared. And I knew that they cared. The term “online friends” started to slip. They were just as much a part of my life as those that I knew in person; sometimes even more so. I had multiple friends that had moved away with and the only way that we really kept in touch was over the phone so what really made these friends I had made through my online games so very different. The answer was nothing, absolutely nothing.
Now I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Sure, I had the people that swore up and down that I was spending too much of my time investing in strangers, but they didn’t understand how much I had gone through, how much these “strangers” had helped me through. Others though; most of my gamer friends understood the concept and held the same for themselves.
Because of online gaming, we never really have to feel like we are alone anymore. We never have to be alone. We can have friends across town and we can have friends across the globe. True, it might be more difficult to visit with the ones across the globe, but far from impossible and the hearts of people don’t base themselves off of how far away someone is. It tends to treat them just the same.
It is for certain, a beautiful evolution of how friendships are made.