Love in a Game
Posted February 23, 2010on:
Love (n.): a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection
To understand where I’m going with this idea, I think it’s crucial for you to know the definition of the word love that I’m using. Also, it probably behooves you to know a bit about the person who’s writing this blog. **Also, I’m really not trying to be a creeper in this post. I’m just honestly expressing an emotion that usually gets set aside in video games**
I am a firm believer in love (of any kind, but specifically the above definition), and I am extremely affectionate. Remember when you were in kindergarten, and you met your first real friend? You were always excited to see her and unabashedly admitted you loved her and she was going to be your bestest friend forever. I guess you could say I never grew out of that; people become my friends, no matter how quickly, and I love them.
To put it shortly, I’m a social, warm-and-fuzzy, chi-loving hippy. I love to love people. And, loving people, for me, is easy. By that I mean I am quickly able to care for someone I might have just met a few hours before. It’s not automatic; I can be as judgmental and snarky as the next person, as exhibited last night when I sat fuming at a priest in my random dungeon. But, sooner or later everyone exposes themselves to be human, and that’s usually around the time I realize they are no less deserving of my care and kindness than anyone else (it turned out said priest didn’t speak English, and after some Spanish-Portuguese piecing together, I ended up being able to help him a little bit, but until I realized he spoke another language, I was completely annoyed at his lack of responses and general noobish play style).
How do you express love in a game?
I think, as a female gamer (omgawdnowai!), it can be hard to determine how to appropriately express your affections. I know in person I can always bake cookies or run up to greet my friend with a hug, or approach someone who’s looking miserable to make sure they’re ok. As a young woman smaller than most large dogs, I can confidently say that a cartoon chipmunk looks more threatening than I. But that’s where the trouble in game begins.
In a game like WoW, other players can’t see me, and I can’t see other players. I can’t tell if my actions and words are making them uncomfortable or confused, and they can’t tell if I’m genuinely caring for them, or if I’m nothing more than the ever-present caricature of a female gamer that insists we’re all attention-starved emotional train wrecks that just want people to dote on them. Then, there’s always the fear that your innocent love will be misinterpreted. You can be labeled as creepy, or maybe give people the wrong idea of the nature of your love. It’s a fine line to toe. And there seems to be an attitude amongst a lot of players that where it’s ok to criticize and berate players extensively, it’s not ok to love them. You don’t know them irl, after all.
Only, you do. Whatever you’re doing in game, however you’re using it to escape your normal life, it’s still YOUR LIFE. The people you meet are still REAL PEOPLE. And just because you can’t see someone every day face-to-face doesn’t mean you’re not really their friend.
So what’s an affectionate gal to do?
Usually, I break it down into two categories. For the people who I’ve known long enough to hope they’ve caught glimmers of my personality, I /love. For everyone else, from the random pug to the hordie who stood still so I could shower him with rose petals, /hug will suffice. It lets them know I appreciate them without making people feel awkward about being emotionally involved with a stranger.
I think personal boundaries are where the essence of this rambling boils down to. My boundaries, in terms of honest affection, are few. I’m willing to be loved and to love. I know others whose personal bubbles are much thicker. And I’ve learned to respect that. But it doesn’t mean I care about them any less.
Looking back, I wish I had thought about this post during the Love is in the Air festivities. It would have fit in so nicely with the themes floating around the blogosphere. Unfortunately, it didn’t really hit me until this weekend. I met a bunch of really new, and awesome, people in the WoW community, and I wanted to find some way to express my gratitude and joy in meeting them, but without making myself out to being the crazy chick who can’t find her way out of the social paper bag.
I guess I’ll end this with a proposition: if you have ever cared about you’ve met through game, even if it was in one Sunwell Achievement pug, let them know. Even if it’s just a small emote. Everyone, I think, feels good knowing that someone out there likes them.
So, to anyone reading this, I ❤ you. Yes. You. You are a friend, a guildie, a new acquaintance. And you are loved and appreciated. It might not be the strongest love of a thousand suns that will be infinite and everlasting. But somebody, even if I’m just a relative stranger, cares about you. And I’m willing to be honest about it because from what I’ve seen in the WoW community is that people are generally good and ready to care about one another. And that kind of gives me hope for the rest of the world.