Finding Love or Friendship in MMOs

Finding Love or Friendship in MMOs
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Finding Love Online

Could you fall in love with an Orc? Or maybe a hot Elf or a curvy Zombie? Well strange as it may sound increasing numbers of people are finding love in massively multiplayer online games and the most popular type of MMO to find your significant other within is a role playing game like World of Warcraft.

It has become pretty common nowadays for people to start relationships online. The explosion in chatrooms, social websites and instant messaging, not to mention internet dating, has rendered the phenomenon unremarkable. People no longer look shocked when couples explain that they first met on the internet. Millions of people use internet dating sites and a survey by Princeton in 2005 suggested that 3% of all internet users in the US met their partner online.

The Relation Between In-Game Characters and Real Life Personality

There has always been an element of risk associated with dating online because people can easily misrepresent themselves. Dating sites, social sites like MySpace or FaceBook and even online chat often comes with a photo attached or a profile detailing jobs, likes and dislikes. When it comes to MMORPGs you have nothing to go on - or do you? While the physical aspect may be entirely lacking that just removes the shallow focus on looks, doesn’t it? You can actually tell quite a lot about someone through playing the game with them. For starters, the fact they are whiling away the hours in the same place you are gives you something in common straight away. The type of character they have chosen, their attitude to in-game money, their attitude to other players, how they handle the pressure of combat and their reaction to winning or losing; all of these things can tell you a lot about a personality. Do they snap at you in stressful situations? Do they share the spoils? Do they run and leave you behind at the first sign of trouble? How do they interact with other people?

The fact that the everyday topics count for little within a virtual world can be liberating. Who cares what your job is, how much your house cost or who you voted for at the last election? All the typical topics of social conversation with their preset answers can be stripped away and people can just be themselves. Admittedly, while they are physically represented by a mythical creature. Often that mask can actually allow people to be more honest about themselves and as a consequence love can bloom.

Dating in MMOs

Finding love and relationships in MMOs can be easier than it is in real life. Socialising online is typically more relaxed and easier going than it is at a bar or a club. For a start, you don’t need to fear a humiliating rejection when you approach someone. Thus, it is easier to strike up a conversation. The very medium itself encourages you to listen fully to the other person, you have to take turns to talk, and you can spend time thinking about your thoughts before fully articulating them. According to the survey results from the Daedalus Project - where they conducted interviews with over 2000 MMO gamers - around 80% of females and 60% of males have flirted with another player, 50% of females and 22% of males have developed romantic feelings for another player, and 29% of females and 8% of males have physically dated someone they first met in a MMO.

Risks of MMO Relationships

Second Life wedding screenshot by mk30

Naturally there is another side to it. 85% of all MMO gamers are men so your odds of finding love in MMOs, (assuming you are looking for a woman) aren’t great. Just be sure to check first. You may also want to think about age: people of all ages play MMOs now, and if you are 18 years old it may be a nasty shock to discover you’ve fallen for a 42 year old. Many people looking for relationships online are looking for short term physical gratification (if you know what I mean). This is especially true in social MMOs like Second Life which boasts a huge sex park. If you want a real relationship then that’s probably not the best way to find it.

Often when people meet up in real life they don’t click in the same way. There is something unexpected about the other person or they aren’t physically attracted to each other. The majority of relationships started online don’t work out, but it is worth pointing out that the majority of relationships that start in “Real Life” don’t work out either.

MMO Friendship

When it comes to friendships, MMOs are a whole different thing. They definitely allow people to meet others with similar interests and open up to each other in a way that they probably wouldn’t in the real world. The difference is with a friendship there is little element of pressure or risk. Many people start playing an MMO game in the first place because a friend recommended it. Playing with friends is already the most important reason that people play MMORPGs according to a survey done by Turbine, the developers of Lord of the Rings Online. People do make and perpetuate lasting friendships in virtual worlds and this is no longer considered a strange thing. You may never even meet in real life but you can still be a supportive friend to someone.

Virtual Marriage

There is no doubt that MMORPGs have a strong social element and with millions of people playing it is no surprise that more and more people are making new friends and meeting partners. A number of MMO games have introduced in-game marriage features and the practice may be more common than you realise. Just be careful because if she catches you playing away with a flirty Night Elf you may end up losing half of your weaponry and armour in the divorce.