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Jun 04, 2007



What I hope can be researched about this is two curiosities:

1) why do people who live next door to each other, and presumably could have all kinds of other things to do like play basketball or shoot pool or drop water balloons sit around for hours playing World of Warcraft indoors? If the WoWs of the Internet are supposed to be a "third place," then why are the first-place people all congregating in the first place to play it?

2) if WoW is so compelling as a world, with all its quests and skilling and battles, and has 7 million players to chose from, why do people wind up playing not with the kinds of guilds and skilled persons they find online, but prefer to play with kids from their own school or building, even spending time levelling up the weaker ones just so they can have fun online with the rest of the group?

Another social dynamic that goes on is that certain kids in the groups are alternately scorned or praised around the issue of whether they "play WoW too much" or "don't play it enough". Some days, the kid who stays home to level up while the rest go play basketball is scorned as a loser. Other times, when that levelled up character is needed, the kid is scorned for not doing his duty and foregoing other things like sleep to level up.


@Peder Burgaard: For most users, I think the VW game is the end in itself. It is definitely not a way to meet people in RL. For many (probably a minority of teens, and maybe a minority of adults), making "virtual friends" to play with online is a bonus but not a priority. For social VWs like SL, connecting with people is more important. How important is it? I'm sure there are lots of people seeking to build human connections both online and extending to RL.

@Prokofy Neva: The obvious answer to your first question is that Addictive MMOs (WoW, EVE, EQ, etc.) are ingeniously designed to get players to keep playing. They're not designed to get players to go play basketball outside with their neighbors. So neighbors might meet online but not on the basketball court because that's what they want to be doing (gaming, not playing basketball). They neighbors who prefer playing basketball WILL meet outside on the court. I think that's a moot question. But I think your question in #2, why do kids prefer to play with people they know, is more interesting. And I think it's probably true for a majority of teens (and maybe adults).

I think the answer is that the relationships they have with RL people are more meaningful to them, more important and valuable. So they want to spend time with those people. (A less important but existing reason is probably the creep factor too - a lot of kids are aware that some pedophiles, etc. lurk online.)

In my personal experience, as an adult, I've made RL friends through motorcycling websites. I've spent a lot of time with them riding and discussing motorcycling online. I've also met people playing games, but for the most part, I don't really want to meet other players in RL. I DEFINITELY do want to play games with my existing RL friends who enjoy similar games, though. -When I moved from the (US) east coast to the west coast, I was thrilled to be able to play Asheron's Call with my friends back on the east coast (c. 1999). Today I do that with WoW with some of them. I am clearly more connected with the geographically distant friends with whom I game online, and our relationships are more significant because of it.


I have to completely agree with your last paragraph. I originally played games with more hardcore players like myself--mmos with raiding/pvp guilds, FPS with competitive clansl; but over the past year I've realized that I have more fun and stay with an individual game longer when I have RL friends to play with. I've convinced maybe 6 of my RL friends from former college roommates to current coworkers to try WoW and we all play together now.

The trend I see starting, which makes perfect sense, is for games to become similar to RL competitions. One reason High School sports are more popular than college sports (for players) is that they cater to the sense of knowing your competition. When you grow up playing with and against one or two other soccer players, high school matches against them take on more significance. Imagine playing WoW Arena for your high school's varsity team in a PC lab on campus after school one day. Add in 10-12 parents, and a coach. Then have your opponents be high schoolers on the varsity team from "South" high school, and you have a rivalry. Honestly, the fact that schools haven't embraced this more, and aren't encouraging weekend tournaments to keep kids social amazes me.

Sorry for that long paragraph, but my point is that people love friends, AND enemies. Having both creates a sense of camaraderie and the motivation to get better. This may not happen in the next 1-2 years, but it will within the next decade. Parents and teacher both love supporting students who are passionate and skilled in something--as gaming becomes more mainstream this type of scenario emerges as plausible.


"Virtual facilitation of real world social interactions"

" ....whatever comes after the word "" VIRTUAL "",basically means "" IT IS NOT "" "

end quote P.Rosedale , LL CEO.

Who are we to contradict him ?!


I predict (and I probably would have said the same thing five years ago, or even ten) that at some point in the future, we'll be able to look back and see that the virtual worlds/games that best enable people to find new long-term friends and loves are the ones that are the most successful & that can reach mass-media level audiences (tens of millions or hundreds of millions). And that meeting and chatting with people is really the primary activity, with any gameplay being secondary.

I'd say MySpace is one of the earliest and clearest wakeup calls in this regard, only excepting that they forgot to have a "world" in their virtual world. Doesn't matter though - the facilitation of social interaction and meeting people is so valuable and so desired that they got huge without even having a "place", let alone any gameplay.

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