My inspiration for this topic comes from this week’s episode of The Digital Cowboys episode 191 where Tony brought up the topic about online friends and how much you can really know someone from just the internet.
As I mentioned in the About section. I started my online gaming at a very young age and that also meant interacting with other people from all over the world. My first encounter with this was in Rune: HoV and ICQ where we would communicate with our clan. I remember talking to people from Iceland and Denmark mostly. I was much too young to seek friendship with those guys though, they were mostly in their late teens to early-mid 20’s and I was only a young boy, barely 12 I think. We just played together and enjoyed the game. But I still remember thinking to myself even at such a young age, “Wow.. I’m talking to people really far away who have completely different life that I do in realtime” (maybe not in that phrasing because like I said, I was barely 12.)
Later on I stopped playing Rune and moved on to Counter-Strike and with Counter-Strike came mIRC where many Swedish (and a few non-swedish) Counter-Strike players hung out and discussed the game and looking for matches. I remember having many great chats and making some temporary friends within the Counter-Strike community and meeting a few of them IRL on LAN-parties.
It wasn’t until I started playing Tibia (a 2D MMORPG) where I really started to gain proper, what I would call, friends. People who I could discuss things outside the game, ask for advice or just have pleasant conversations that would last for hours about anything. MMORPGs are a great platform creating friendships, whether it was hunting together, talking on guild chats or public channels, on forums or just hanging out and chatting in-game. I think this is why I played Tibia for as long as I did, not because the game was particularly good but because I was having amazingly interesting conversations with people from all over the world.
Back in the spring of 2006, we had a guild in Tibia filled with many interesting people. Most of us were not there to be the best at the game or to do harm to other players. (which is really common in Tibia sadly, even more so nowadays.) When our leader sprung this idea to a few of us in the guild, to go to Germany and visit him and another member in the guild who lived near him. The group consisted of me, another swedish guy, a girl from Brazil, a guy from poland and another guy from Northern Ireland. At first there was a lot of sceptisism of course but after a few weeks of talking about it, we decided that we were gonna go through with it. So we started planning everything, checking times,ordering tickets etc. And then came the summer and off we went. We spent 2 awesome weeks together in Germany. Sharing many laughs, experiences and beers together. It’s an adventure I will never forget. It was a big leap of faith, no doubt, but totally worth it.
Among the many amazing people I’ve met online 1 stands a bit above everybody else, and that is my girlfriend Gaby. We met about 5 years ago in Tibia, had many fun chats together and also enjoyed the game together. We got closer as time moved on until we both realised we had feelings more then friendship so we decided to become a couple in May of 2008 and on June 17 2008 I got on my first flight to Mexico and 20 hours later after stopping in Frankfurt, Germany and Mexico City, Mexico. I had arrived in Monterrey, Mexico for the first time, ready to spend an amazing summer with my girlfriend. I have since then gone back twice and she has come to visit Sweden 3 times. We both know eachothers friends and family really quite well and we are planning a future in Sweden after the summer.
Tibia is also where I first got to know my lovely co-author on this here blog-thingy, Nena. We started to know eachother through our mutual friend that we both had met within the game. We didn’t really hit it off from the start but we found out how similar our interests were and the rest is history. I could literaly make a whole list of amazing people I trust, respect and that I’m loyal to that I have first met online and also people who I have never met face-to-face. Well this post is getting quite long so I’ll finish it up about now. If anyone wanna have a conversation about this, feel free to contact me via email or twitter.
Closing thoughts, am I a bit social akward? I guess. Would I trade some better face-to-face social skills for all the amazing people I’ve met over the internet? Not a chance.