Making Friends in MMORPGs
By Lisa Fritscher
People play MMORPGS, or massively multiplayer online role playing games, for many reasons. Some enjoy the role playing aspect of pretending to be an orc or an elf. Some like the strategic aspect of figuring out how to solve puzzles and outwit hordes of enemies. What most online gamers have in common is a desire to meet people. According to a 2007 study by Nottingham Trent University, 40 percent of people would rather talk to their online friends than their real life friends about tough topics. Almost half have actually met an MMORPG friend in real life. Meeting people in-game is pretty easy, but forming solid friendships takes a bit of effort.
Put Yourself Out There
Get to know the various commands in your game of choice. Find out how to wave at someone, and start waving frequently -- at characters you have seen around, at those who have healed you or given you a gift, at newbies, or at random people who are standing around in the game’s tavern. Some people will ignore you, some will wave back, and some might even say hello. Letting people know you are open to friendly chat increases your chances of making a friend. Of course, it also helps to repay the friendliness of others.
Do Something Nice
To move beyond basic social politeness, try to do something nice for someone in the game. Perform a healing spell or contribute a useful potion for a character who is struggling. Give a new player a decent piece of armor you no longer need, and then offer to escort him to a part of the game world where he can build up experience points. Develop a reputation as a player who helps people out, and you will be surprised by your new-found popularity.
Join a Guild
Although membership is not required, guilds form the heart of most MMORPGs. A guild is a collection of players who share similar in-game values and playing styles, and work together for the in-game benefit of all. Some games provide certain perks that are available only to guilds. Guild membership is not set in stone, and you are generally free to leave at any time, or even join a new guild. This is especially advantageous for new players who have not yet developed a particular playing style, as well as for veterans looking for something new. When they find the right fit, many people discover that fellow guild members become their closest friends. Repeatedly sharing intense game experiences, learning to work together, and sharing the spoils of victory all help build close ties between guild members.
No matter how close you feel to your in-game friends, the nature of the game encourages anonymity. Although most gamers are genuine, it is impossible to tell if someone is lying about age, gender, location or other important details. Even in-game, remember that not everyone plays nice. Some players use the guise of friendship to get close to other characters and steal game items or information. Protect your character and yourself by using common sense. Avoid revealing personally identifying information to your in-game friends. If you decide to meet in real life, choose a public place and always have an escape plan. If you are under 18, get your parents’ permission before meeting up with anyone you met online. No matter how old you are, let someone know where you are going, whom you are meeting and when you will be back.
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including VisualTravelTours.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.