I don’t know these people, officer, I swear.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29308728/page/2/

Massively multiplayer games can be a global melting pot. Hop into “World of Warcraft” or “Guild Wars” and your North American warrior can rub shoulders with an Australian healer.

But more often than not, online gamers are more apt to hang out with people in their neighborhoods than people on the next continent, says a new study. The analysis, which tracked the playing habits of 7,000 people in Sony Online’s “EveryQuest II,” says gamers game with people they know: friends, friends of friends and family.

If you looked at the roster for Brotherhood of Oblivion, you’d see that this seems to be the case: a significant part of the “core” group are a bunch of co-workers (and a girlfriend or two-hi!).  Many of the others happen to be nearby, and we’ve since come to know them IRL-the rogue who prompted my most infamous post has been over for a LAN party before. 

But there’s any number of them from further corners of the world that I’ve never met.  If you look at previous guilds I’ve been in, I either knew none of them, or only one or two.

It’s not just raiding guilds, either-if you look at my smaller, more ‘homey’ RP guilds, I didn’t know any of them, either!  There’s always a few units inside a guild that know each other-siblings, significant others, a couple of friends-but those tend to be smaller parts of the whole, from what I’ve seen.

Is my experience just that off?

“These aren’t necessarily the new weirdos, these are the weirdos that you already knew,” says Williams, who is an assistant professor of communications at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.  

That comment just made me lol.

Another finding:  Players who reported being depressed was disproportionately high in “EverQuest II.” But there’s a second sentence to that bullet point: Depression was particularly pronounced among those who played on role-playing servers.

Contractor, ever the scientist, says there are two explanations for depressed people playing the role-playing servers on “EverQuest.” One is that role-playing games make people depressed. But he thinks the more plausible answer is that these role-playing sanctuaries are an outlet for people with depression, a way to escape into a completely different character.

If these games can provide tools for people who have depression, or are feeling isolated in real life, it’s an opportunity for release, he says. “These are promising avenues for helping sections of society that may feel disenfranchised in the offline world.”

No, they just stumble into my RP sessions and infect it with their emo.

Anyway. 

Discuss!

  1. #1 by Brent on February 23, 2009 - 3:55 pm

    With raiding guilds, I think one of the major reasons for continental affiliations, outside of the friendship aspect, is simply that the majority of organised events occur at a time such that only people in a similar timezone can attend in their “normal” times, i.e. evenings/weekends.

  2. #2 by Ambrosyne on February 23, 2009 - 4:02 pm

    Well that would mean that you’re more likely to play with people in your own time zone, of course, which means people are more likely to be near you.

    But I still didn’t know most of the nutcases I played with. :D

  3. #3 by Rivyn on February 23, 2009 - 5:14 pm

    My PVP guild was formed from co-workers. It expanded to people across the US, yet we all became great friends. Once a year the non-locals all fly in and we go crazy for a long weekend at one of the local Casinos. Oddly enough I raid with you guys more often than I PVP anymore, but I still hang out with those guys IRL.

  4. #4 by Brent on February 23, 2009 - 5:34 pm

    “But I still didn’t know most of the nutcases I played with. :D”

    Well a timezone is one 24th (or 48th) of the world, so if you’re in a US one, you’ve got a busy few years getting out and shaking hands with everyone in your timezone :-P

    I’ve only ever been in guilds with at most 1 – 2 RL friends in them, though I’ve made RL friends from them (my flatmate was met raiding MC).

  5. #5 by Holy Dueg! on February 23, 2009 - 5:37 pm

    I have three friends from RL who I raid with online and two more who I just play with on a different server. You do have a tendency to play with your friends though by virtue of the fact that if you know someone irl and are going to start playing, like 99% of the time, you’ll ask that person what server they’re on and roll there. I know I switched to horde because my friends did and then switched servers later when they did. It’s also because the game is fun, but sometimes you need the social aspect of it to keep you interested.

  6. #6 by kyrilean on February 23, 2009 - 9:58 pm

    Don’t know anyone in real life. Never met them in real life. Have e-mail addresses or IMs only. Most don’t even know my real name.

  7. #7 by Shadowtycho on February 23, 2009 - 11:14 pm

    I have been in many guilds which have a core group of players that know each other, but also i do think that for every core group like that there are people from different walks of life that they have met online. When i played EVE the guild i was in actually had a group of people that lived in London and a group that was more local to me, It was one of the neater guilds i have ever been a part of because there was always someone on and most of the time something interesting was happening.

    This does surprise me in the fact that for every person in the “core group” there seems to be a person that they met on a pug that they liked who joined up. I don’t know if i agree with the fact that you don’t meet new people, i meet allot of people i haven’t met before online. and i hang out with them more then the people whom i hang out with locally online(i hang out with RL people mostly IRL) but maybe im wierd.

    good post :)

  8. #8 by Esdras on February 24, 2009 - 6:14 am

    I just made a Tauren DK alt on sporegor RP realm to play with one of my workmates and am looking forward to seeing what its like on a RP realm hahaha.

  9. #9 by Hulan on February 24, 2009 - 8:31 am

    I’m from the UK and play on the EU servers and I would say that there is more of a mix on EU servers – not surprisingly! In my 4 years playing WoW have have played regularly with people from Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Italy, Russia, Israel, Germany, USA (living in Germany), Turkey, South Africa and Hungary.

  10. #10 by Ambrosyne on February 24, 2009 - 9:28 am

    The funny thing was that an internet buddy (not a RL friend-none of my RL freinds played WoW at the time) got me interested in WoW, and I rolled on one of his servers.

    I NEVER played with him, though-couldn’t catch him on!

    So I was sort of adrift in my formative years. It wasn’t until my boyfriend at the time started playing that I “knew” anyone else on server-and then he outleveled me and I never got to play with HIM, either, until I caught up and started raiding.

    I still talk with some of the people that I met while leveling in STV, for heavens sake, and met a few of the nearby ones IRL.

    But STILL none of my RL freinds played WoW.

    It wasn’t until I moved on to dating my raiding guilds MT-and his co-workers played-that I actually ran into the whole “playing with people you know” thing. Four years later.

  11. #11 by Sientina on February 24, 2009 - 9:53 am

    I’ve raided with people all over the US, some of which I met in game, then later met IRL. I’ve moved servers or they’ve moved servers and we’re still good friends. There are also people in my area that I met first on WoW. Or others that if I ever go to Australia, I know who would be meeting me at the airport :)

  12. #12 by Ambrosyne on February 24, 2009 - 10:04 am

    Oh I’d love to meet some of the Austuralian’s that I’ve played with.

    Just to hear them talk more.

    Mmm.

    …what?! STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.

  13. #13 by Brent on February 24, 2009 - 5:19 pm

    “Austuralian’s”

    O.O

    Pwease stop mangling the word, its bad enough when yanks call us “Oystralans”.

    Australians!

    (if it was a typo sure but I see people type it that way intentionally too much :-P )

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