Inspired by my conversation with Nia on my previous blog, I really want to look deeper into friendship in games. What is striking to me is that, on the Internet where “stranger danger” is more vocalized than ever, games, particularly multiplayer games, actively force strangers to work together and form trusts, and even bonds. While there are still creeps in games, games seem like a much looser and safer digital space than forums and chat rooms. I remember one time I was playing Hearthstone arena and a guy pops to spectate me, most probably to fulfill a quest. He was an in-game friend, the type that I just click yes to a random friend request and never actually care who he is. But he stays around for a couple of rounds and then messages me complementing my gameplays. We chat around a bit and he asks if we can Skype so that I can coach him. I was a bit hesitant at first because I am only used to in-game “friends” who mostly work together for a bit before forever disbanding. I end up doing it anyway and find our conversation quite pleasant. Not only do we talk about the game itself but we also talk about schools and exams and other personal matters. I learn that he is from Hungary and a year younger than me. I enjoyed meeting him and a video game helped us make a connection.
I would like to know if others have experienced something similar and if so, please share it with me. One thing I had to say though is that such interaction as I describe above is pretty rare though. Most “friends” in games are just those, as described above, I clicked yes to friend requests. These friends pretty much has no only transaction and very short-term values: clearing a quest together, finishing a match, or exchanging loots, etc. Thus, even though the game world simulates a social atmosphere, most of the time the gaming experience, for me, is pretty individualized and lonely.