Over the years I’ve met a few people IRL that I have known in World of Warcraft. I always find it so interesting to meet someone in the flesh that I’ve gotten to know well in game because I find they are either exactly the same as the character I’d gotten acquainted with, or really nothing like them at all. It can be disappointing when you you’ve gotten along flawlessly with someone in game, only to spend an awkward few hours together IRL realizing you have absolutely nothing in common other than World of Warcraft, but sometimes it’s great and a in-game friendship can pass into real life!
The truth is, I believe the majority of players out there aren’t actually who they portray in game, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s not that people are out there trying to deceive you and make you believe they are who they aren’t (for the most part), it’s just that interacting with others through an avatar can make it easier to act like the person you might aspire to be. Sometimes it can be bad, like when it comes to trolls or ninjas or people who just like to spout insults and be jerks, but those people would likely find some other outlet for their negativity if they didn’t have WoW, and really, I’d rather they ruin Trade Chat than bully a peer or yell at their kids.
For some players though, (those who don’t enjoy the misery of others) an avatar can be a great filter! I’ve played with quite a few people over the years who have had some pretty serious social anxiety or other issues, but these things didn’t effect them nearly as much when interacting with others in World of Warcraft. The game can be amazing for overcoming such things and making friends, if used as a stepping stone instead of a hiding place. A lot of players I knew who were having problems connecting with people in the real world, have since overcome the majority of their issues and are now are too busy with real life to find time to play WoW.
Anyway, on to my story!
If I had asked myself how close Real Me was to WoW Me back when I first started playing, I would have been sorry to say that they were actually two very different people. I’d never played an MMO before, and even though I knew real people were behind those other players, I just didn’t really think about it. I was way overly flirty, got involved with all kinds of drama, broke up guilds, made enemies, and seriously hurt some feelings, because to me it was “just a game” and when I turned off the computer, it was over for me.
Looking back on those first few months in game, I feel really bad! In real life I hate drama, and run the opposite direction when I see it coming, but I do like reading about drama in novels, watching it on tv or creating it in my stories, and that’s sort of what WoW was for me in the beginning, a story with characters that I was a part of! It really only hit me that those characters I had been talking to in game were actually REAL people when one of the players I’d been talking to said he was looking for a house in my city so we could be together. I had only just turned 19 at the time, and was freaked out by how the two of us could end up at such extremely opposite conclusions from the same conversations. He’d been fun to talk to and fun to quest with, and that’s as far as it’d gone for me, but he had been ready to change his whole life and just pack up and move thousands of miles!
Needless to say, we lost contact shortly after I’d realized the errors of my WoW ways. Ever since then, I’m more cautious about overusing that /flirt emote!
I believe the WoW Me of today is a lot more like the Real Me than it was in the beginning! The biggest difference between them is that I’m super shy IRL, but only a little bit shy in game, lol. IRL I have a few really close friends, and a lot of distant acquaintances, and WoW tends to be the same way. I may appear to be disorganized and a bit messy IRL, but I always know where everything is, and the same is true if someone other than me were to attempt to find something in my guild bank! I always smile when I pass a stranger outside on the street (which I think is maybe just a small town thing), and try to always be friendly whenever I encounter a stranger in game. Also, I tend to be a bit over-generous IRL at times and lend or give my close friends things I end up needing later (like my pink winter boots…), and I have that issue in game as well when it comes to gold, though these days it’s not as much of an issue because I have less in game friends, and more gold… though I don’t think the two are directly related!
WoW became so much more enjoyable for me once I started acting more like myself and ditched that “it’s just a game, and those people don’t matter” mentality! I can’t help but wonder if the reason that server/faction/guild community feeling has been lost is perhaps because this latest generation of WoWers have yet to have similar eye opening experiences about their fellow players. There really are a lot less opportunities to spark up in game conversations and friendships now. My fingers are still crossed that Cataclysm will magically bring us all back together while tearing Azeroth apart, but so far it doesn’t look promising…
My questions for all of you are, do you act like yourself in game? Do you think people should act like themselves (if they aren’t on a RP sever anyway) or do you think it really doesn’t matter either way? Would you or have you ever met someone from WoW IRL? And finally, don’t you like how much I made my WoW character look like me!? I’m a little proud of that… hehe
As always, Thanks for Reading and Thanks for Commenting! There’s nothing that makes me happier than when people share their opinions about what I write, except maybe when those opinions happen to be positive ones that agree with me, lol.
Miss Mediocre <3