Light & Leafy

Love in a Game

Posted on: February 23, 2010

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.

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4 Responses to "Love in a Game"

As a girl gamer and fellow tree-hippie I agree with your sentiment – hugs for everyone!

The trouble is, it can attract certain attention that you’d rather not have, and this makes me sad. In the past, I’ve had guildies and other friends through the game who I have shown affection to, usually through just talking to them. These people then latched onto me like I was their only friend and because I would feel horrible telling them to go away, I have at times logged onto an alt to escape /shame.

Other in-game friends I would happily share a /hug /kiss /flirt or /goose with, and they’d know I was just kidding around (I hope!) 🙂

I know how that is. I’m too friendly to tell anyone that I need my space. Usually around that time I’ll hop on one of my single player games just to relax.

I think the only that makes me feel worse than someone latching on are people who think that I’m caring for others just to feel good about myself. I’ve been accused of that before, and it’s really sucked. “You’re not my rl friend” seems to be a popular refrain for those who can’t understand why you would care for someone you can’t necessarily see.

Oh well, I’ll just keep on being openly affectionate with those who I know can handle it =)

I always feel weird when I get attached to someone “virtual” – how can I know the feeling is mutual? What if our friendship will burn out once we change guilds/leave the game/take a break?

So far it’s been good – I’ve met some of the WoW-friends IRL and I chat with some outside WoW even if they quit playing a while ago. I’m not touchy-feely in real life but I love helping out friends in game (it makes me feel good and makes them feel good, double win).

I hope my latest “click” will last – I always get excited when a new girl joins the guild, but I got along from day 1 with one particular shammy I met a year ago. So good that we’ve followed each other through guilds, chat every day on Gtalk and I’m visiting her in April \o/ It feels good having a girl friend to rant to, and I like it when she rants with me about *her* boyfriend.

Oh, and I /lick people I like. Yum.

Yea, I agree! I think the hardest part about becoming friends with someone online is that you never know exactly how they’re feeling (especially not at first). All those subtle clues in body language and voice are lost in text, until you’ve become close enough with someone to recognize their typing style and little social ticks (like I know I don’t use smiley faces when I’m upset or grumpy, but when I’m having an average or great day, I type them so often I usually find myself wondering if people think I’m a nutter.).

When you find someone you can really connect to, though, it’s great! I have a group of friends I met over the game that are now all people I’ve met and hung out with in real life (heck, I spent nearly a week with them last August!).

Your story kind of reminded me of my own life. Outside the game, most of my friends are male. I had a lot of great girl friends during high school, but when we all went off to college (me being the only one to stay home and go to work and school simultaneously for financial reasons), we completely lost touch. I’ve met a few wonderful women through WoW and recently even more through WoW blogs, and it really has filled a sort of void that’s been in my life for the past 2 years. I have girls I can talk to now, and I know none of my rants will make it past their ears (and into, say, the ears of my boyfriend).

My major thing is to /hug people, but if it’s someone I really like I’ll use my special glomp macro

=)

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