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Online Friends

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I was talking to a close friend (9 years of friendship is close right hehe) and in the conversation it came up the comparison of having friends in 'rl' versus on in an online venue (mmos, online chat rooms, forums, ect). He said that the people you talk to in game are just characters, avatars that just happen to be moved around by someone else. That they shouldn't be seen as the same as people you meet face to face because the chances of meeting said people is slim to none.

That stung me hard. 'How could he say that!?' I thought. Considering we both met our significant others through these same venues, hell met each other through the net- how could he? I mean online through WoW alone I've met other minorities, bodybuilders, married parents, military, gays even (and they have it worse than minorities in game ;/); I mean I've met as much a varied spectrum of people thought the online realm as much as I have in rl (being a Pagan kind lends itself to finding interesting people outside of ones self). I've counciled others through their own loneliness, to cheering when a close couple I know had their second child. The varied characters I've had the honor of encountering- whether it'd be a Season 4/5 geared Undead Warrior or a scary Allie Druid, have a human being behind there. Maybe it makes one feel better when they inconvenience (aka ganking) a person to equate them as another 'toon' but I can't.

I told him that as well. He then had the audacity to ask who I'd choose, the rl friends or the in game ones. I told him that's cruel, and that a true friend wouldn't do that. I walked away after that and the conversation dropped. I'd hate to think that all who game think that. That 'naw that guy MTing our raids isn't real, that his obsession with cars is a computer generated simulation' or 'that mage who made me mad is programmed to say such things in chat as part of the in game experience'. No, I never thought that...when that day comes when people become little more than pretty npcs to me- I will never game online again. Online communities (especially mmos) no matter how automated or run by numbers, will always need one thing- human interaction. And because of this characters will always be more than an npc, they will always show feelings, concerns, aspirations, the very things I think that keeps such communities alive. I play for the people. The interaction no matter how small. And a friend online or off is still that- a friend.


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