Welcome to MMO couples

Every one who is familiar with MMOG's (massive multiplayer online games), knows the stories of people who are so addicted to playing these games that it costs them their real life friendships and relationships. There are also stories though of people who meet in a MMOG and fall in love, like my boyfriend and I. 'MMO couples' is a tribute to our lovestory, but also an invitation to share your story and experiences with others.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MMO couples R.I.P.?

After quite some time of inactivity on MMO couples, I suspect that by now you are more than wondering if this blog is resting in peace or if there is still more to come.

The truth is I am kind of stuck when it comes to new content. I have been trying to get my blog known in the Asian gaming community, to see if there are any love stories to be found there. Unfortunately, there has been little response. I am not much of an expert when it comes to gaming cultures, but I do think there is a difference between the Asian and the European/American one, theirs being more focussed on achievement than the social aspects online games have to offer. I might be utterly wrong here though, so feel free to correct me.

On the other hand, it could very well be that I have reached about all the MMO couples there are. Or at least the ones who want to share their tale of love with the rest of the oh so curious world. It is unknown how many failed MMO relations there are, or how many people are keeping their online relationship a secret. In general, people still think it an odd way to find a partner. To openly talk about one's online crush is not something everyone wants to do.
For others it can simply be satisfying enough to keep the relationship at a (safe) virtual distance; maybe because it makes it more exciting, maybe out of fear the relationship will be disappointment in the real world, or maybe because they are in a relationship already.

All in all, I am out of ideas and tips. I also have to admit that I am giving almost all of my spare-time-attention to finishing my first book, in which the story of my Night Elf Hunter and I will be featured in more detail :)
And: I am leveling a new character in World of Warcraft as well, hoping to reach level 70 with my Tauren Druid before Wrath of the Lich King comes out. Yes I know: I am a bad girl! (I don't want to know how much played time I have.)

I promise though, that as soon as the feeling of eureka, new stories, tips, suggestions and new ideas come my way, I will blow a fresh wind through MMO couples. That reminds me: how about a Vice Versa MMO relationship:

A friend of mine will be leaving the country next week to start his new job in France. But what happened just a couple of weeks earlier: love knocked on his door. Fate as is seems does not care about good timing. But to keep in touch, he convinced his girlfriend to start playing World of Warcraft. That way they can spend time together, eventhough they are miles apart.
I think it is a great idea :) Good luck to you two, J. & A.! And make chars on horde side so we can roam Northrend together!

For now I wish all of you lots of fun and love in both the virtual and the real world. And remember: anything is possible. Even falling in love with a Gnome!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Inactivity on MMO couples

For the last few weeks, I have not been active on either one of my blogs. My excuse: I have been busy at work, and in my spare time with writing my first book. I will come back with new topics in the near future though, so don't give up on me just yet :)

Until then I am hoping more stories and suggestions will come. Recently I have received a message about MMO friendships, which I think is also an interesting topic to investigate more. So if you have any related story for me to publish, please feel free to send it.

Thank you,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

News Flash: MMO couples article in Japanese!

Two days ago I received a very nice message from Rio, a Japanese man who has a blog called Game Spark. With his blog he focusses on Western video gaming news, and introduces the Western gaming culture to the Japanese gamers and otaku.

Rio asked me if he could translate an article of mine, 'From online flirting to meeting for real: tips to prepare your adventure', into Japanese and post it on his blog. So far, I have not been able to reach the Asian gamers, so I am very happy about his request and told him "ofcourse!". If you master the Japanese language, you can check out his post and other interesting reads here!

Thank you for your interest in MMO couples Rio! I am looking forward to hearing how your readers respond!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

First results of the MMO Questionnaire nr. 1

After a few weeks of non-activity on my blog, I am proud to present to you the first results of my questionnaire. The questionnaire has been filled in by 33 people, most of them USA residents. It does not sound much, but then I do not expect there to be many MMO couples. On the other hand, the questionnaire has only been online for about 1,5 months, so hopefully more results will come in the future.

1) Gender of the participant
Female: 72,72%
Male: 27,27%

2) Sexual orientation
Heterosexual: 93,9%
Homosexual: 0%
Bisexual: 6,1% (both were female)

3) Age of the participant
< 20: 3%
20-25: 27,3%
25-30: 30,3%
30-35: 27,3%
35-40: 3%
40-45: 6,1%
45-50: 0%
> 50: 3%

Most female participants were between 20-25 and 30-35
Most male participants were between 25-30

4) Gender and age difference (5-10 years or more)
Older woman with younger man: 25%
Older man with younger woman: 31,25%
Man and woman in the same age range (less than 5 years): 43,75%

5) Being in a relationship while getting to know the MMO lover
One was in a relationship: 42,2%
Both where/are still in a relationship: 12,1%
None were in a relationship: 45,4%

6) Gender and taking initiative to pursue the online relationship
Female: 21,2%
Male: 18,1%
Both taking initiative at the same time: 60,6%

7) Use of other media to communicate
39,4% started using other media within less than 1 month of knowing eachother
The telephone was used most often: 33,3%
E-mail: 21.2%
Skype: 18,2%
Webcam: 9,1%

8) Cyber- and telephone sex
63,6% of the participants had cybersex/telephone sex

9) The first real life encounter
51% of the participants met for the first time in real life after 6 months or more of knowing each other online
6,1% met in less than 1 month

10) Knowing what the other person looks like in advance
69,7% shared pictures in advance
18,2% used the webcam
12,1% had a blind date

11) First time having sex in real life
54,5% had sex on the first date
30,3% had sex after a few dates
12,2 did not have sex yet

12) Living together or planning to start living together
36,4% of the participants is living together now
54,5% plans on living together in the future
9,1% of the partcipants have no plans to start living together

13) People who plan to move together
55,5% will have to move to another country
27,7% will move to another state
16,6% is still debating

14) People who live together
75% of them have been living together for 1 year or longer
92,3% of them had to move to another state or country

- Women seem to be more courageous/willing to move to another country or state than men: about 2/3 of the people who have moved or are going to move are women. Girl power!

- 21,1% of the participants are married; 39,4% are not married; and 48,5% of the particpants have plans to get married

- 87,9% consider their relationship to be successful; 12,1% are not sure if the relationship will survive

- About 78,8% of the MMO couples are both still playing the game in which they have met, or have started to play a new MMOG; 3% of the MMO couples stopped playing MMOGS; in 15,1% of the results, one of the two is still playing the game (66,6% of which are women)

And last but not least: in which MMOG most relationships seem to develop:

World of Warcraft: 66,66%
Final Fantasy XI: 24,24%
Guild Wars: 3%
Half Life FPS: 3%
Everquest: 3%

I thank everyone who has taken the time to fill in my questionnaire and helped me with my little research. The questionnaire will stay available for others to fill in, so in a few months I will check the results again and post an update.

In the meanwhile, please keep sending me your stories and suggestions. I would also like to know if there are people who have taken the big step to meet with their MMO lover, but decided not to pursue the relationship any further (and especially why).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Will you join my Linkshell?", the story of a couple who met in Final Fantasy XI

"This is my story of how I found the most wonderful guy. I truly am grateful to Final Fantasy XI for letting us get in touch and meet.

I had started playing Final Fantasy XI in June of 2006, after being a long time fan of the Final Fantasy series. A few months in, and I felt ready to take on the world with a band of friends by my side. So I thought to myself: 'Let's start a linkshell!' I formed BurningSunrise, my very first linkshell. I was darn proud of it too, inviting all of my friends to join and share the fun. But after a while, people moved on, and I found myself in the city of Jeuno shouting for new members to do missions and quests with.
That's when 'he' popped up.

'I'll join', were his first words to me (he still can't tell me why he joined my particular linkshell). He wasn't what I was expecting: a 75 Dragoon came strolling up to me and introduced himself, wearing the coolest armour, and sporting a long black lance on his back. I was instantly in awe of this guy and how much time he had put into his character. So he joined up, and over the next month we spent a lot of time together, mostly him helping me with my rank missions and acquiring the level 30 unlockable jobs. He even came along for my fight to unlock Dragoon as a playable job, which I kept telling him would be my first job to level to 75 (and it was: I finally finished it off a year later). All the while, I couldn't tell him how I was falling for him in a big way. I thought the age gap was too wide, that he would laugh at me if I told him how I felt. So I kept schtum until one day...

So, here is the scene. I was in West Ronfaure, levelling a level 1 job, when he popped online and started talking to me. I finally made my mind up:

<Me> I got something to tell you...
<Him> What is it?
<Me> I love you.
<Me> Yes >.> <.<
<Him> Good, cos I love you too.

I could have screamed from the very rooftops at that moment in joy. A month later, he drove 300 miles to see me for a weekend, and it was the best weekend ever. He was everything I had hoped for and had seen in the pictures, and I was so happy. But then he had to drive back, which of made me feel very upset.
It carried on for a while, until he decided to move down to me permanently. It was difficult, as we would have to live with my mother for a while, but she gave her blessing. So on the worst winter's night in memory, he drove down. I didn't think he would get through the snow and ice, but he rolled up to my house at 2am, and I have never been so glad in my life to see someone.

One and a half years on, we have our own place and are very happy with the life we have made together. He still feels like he doesn't fit in here sometimes, and that he is finding it hard to make friends, but we are getting there now that we have moved out of the family home.

For the first time in my life, I feel that things are going my way and that I have found a man that I can put my trust in completely. I couldn't be without him, and I am so glad that we had a chance to meet on Final Fantasy XI. We still play regularly, as we have many friends on there. We have also got engaged in-game, so hopefully I get that white wedding I want in Chateau D'Oraguille in the fabled city of San d'Oria. Or maybe we will use the gil to buy ourselves a Haubergeon +1 >.>"

Monday, May 12, 2008

All we will say is: "Moonglade"

The woman who sent me the following story, wrote in the header 'I wasn't looking for love, but love found me!'. Enjoy the saga of a guildleader in disguise who whispered to her Night Elf Hunter for the first time in Moonglade.
*Note to self: what is this attraction between Druids and Hunters... :)

"I used WoW as a get-away from my real life issues. Work, the ex-boyfriend, just life. I enjoyed running about and exploring this fake world. In-game I was a co-guild leader of a rather large guild and was always being asked for help. Nothing new, but one night I was asked by one of my members (who I always thought was one of the best members my guild had) for some help with some quests. Unfortunately I was busy that night and couldn't help at the time. But I always remembered how nice he was and how great a member he was. I even remember the day he joined my guild. Some time later I did end up helping him with some quests, and found that he was amazingly sweet and kind. Though we weren't together long, I thought about him often and when seeing him log on over the next few nights, I wanted to speak to him but never could find an excuse to. So I never did.

Being a leader of a guild that size you sometimes just want to get away from responsibility and play the game without whispers or anything else that might come your way. I had a secret Druid alt that very very few knew was actually me. It was around the time of the Brew Fest activities and I was running around doing those events, enjoying the quiet night. Being a Druid I was able to teleport myself to Moonglade to get myself over to Darnassus much faster. Running toward the flight path I happened to mouse over a Night Elf Hunter standing in Moonglade (something you don't see too often), noticed this person was from my guild and: that sweetheart of a member! I found myself smiling and trying to think of something to say. I could not think of anything and instead just waved at him and ran off. Still to this day I'm not sure why I decided to stop, but I did and whispered him, saying who I was and hello. We stood there in Moonglade talking for about 20 minutes until he told me he was now late for something he had to be at in real life. I was extremely happy I stopped and he promised me he'd come back to chat some more. And he did! We talked for what seemed only minutes, but was actually hours. I ended up staying up all night and found out he was living in Australia and me being in the States I just couldn't stay awake any more. I had to log which was tough to do.

A while later, WoW had introduced in game voice chat. Big deal at the time for my large guild. I had thought about this Night Elf Hunter often and wished to talk to him more, but found myself being too shy to really start up conversation. For some reason that night I was on our guild's in game voice chat and never knew it. I heard someone quietly say hello to me. It was the Night Elf Hunter! I instantly was attracted to his voice, but never thought much of it, seeing it's just a game. I wasn't looking for a relationship in a virtual world. We did small talk, asking each other age, jobs, etc. I found myself really enjoying his company and thinking about him all the time. In game and out of game. We continued to talk to each other whenever possible. Either over voice chat or just in whisper chat. I soon was in parties with him all the time and invited other online friends of mine to join us for quests/chatting. They would tell me how much we flirt. I guess I never realized how attracted I was to him. We soon did everything together and were inseparable.

Finally one night, while we were talking, he told me he had something to say to me. He was thinking of transferring servers. I was heart broken. I told him right away how sad I was to hear that. How fun he really was and how I would miss him. He told me he felt the same. How he'd miss me too much and didn't want to leave, but some of his other in game buddies were leaving to a better server for his Time Zone. It was that night we both realized how we cared for each other more than just a friend in game. Seeing that I was never looking for love or a relationship of any kind, we told each other everything. The highs and lows in our lives. So honestly, there will be no surprises when we finally are together. Which is a really good thing to do.

I still remember where I was when he first told me he had something that he's been thinking about a lot and needed to say to me, but was afraid to. I finally got him to say it. I'll never forget hearing those six words "I'm falling in love with you." I was speechless, I had no idea what to say and must have been silent for some time, because he had to ask if I was still there. I'll admit, I wasn't able to say it back to him. I kept thinking to myself that this is a virtual world and you can't find love in a game. I've truly never been more wrong in my life. I can now say that I've found the love of my life and yes, in an online game! I've never been happier and I can't wait to live my life with this man. We laugh now about how when we'll be asked where we met. All we'll say is: "Moonglade"."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

For those who move for love: some tips

This post is not only handy for people who plan to move to another country to live with their cute Gnome Mage or courageous Blood Elf Paladin, but for anyone who plans to move to another country, for what ever reason. But since this is a blog about MMO relationships, we just pretend it is only for those who move for love :)

Like I have written in one of my earlier posts, all you want is to get to the significant other as soon as possible. Because of that, you might not have a clear overall view of what you need to know in general concerning moving to another country, and what you can/should do in advance. I certainly wished I had thought of some things before I moved; would have saved me a lot of headaches and frustration. But I had to find out the hard way. So based on my experiences, I have have written down some tips to help you out. At least those of you who are EU-citizens. But I am sure that people living elsewhere can get some valuable information out of it as well.

Before I start with the list, be aware of the fact that you will leave family and friends behind. Can you handle this? Will you be able to visit them from time to time, or they you? If a beloved one is having problems, you can't simply go and see him or her. You can't go out for a drink with your friends whenever you feel like it. This is something you need to think through very thoroughly. Eventhough you will be with the one you love, you can still feel very loney.

Another thing you need to realize, is that you will have to start from scrap. Not only do you most likely need to learn a new language and invest time in building up a new circle of friends, you also need to build up a new life for yourself and find a fulfilment. Once you have thought these things through and still want to take the exciting chance and move to the one you love, you should try and arrange a few things in advance:

1. Have your diploma's translated and legalized. For some countries you need a Apostille stamp on your diploma, which is given by a court of law. I suggest to get the stamp anyways: in my case, the information I got in Austria told me that I did not need the stamp. In Holland though, they said the stamp was needed... It will cost you only a few extra euro's. The translation is probably the most expensive part and needs to be done by an offical translator.

2. Find out what is needed to be allowed to work in the country where you are moving to. For people moving from one EU-country to another it is easy: you need a valid pasport and you need to be registrated in the city you are going to live in.

3. Prepare your resume (in English at least).

4. If you have a job and will quit it: try and get a letter of recommendation (in English). Might make it easier for you to get a job in the new country.

5. If you have the possibility to do this, I strongly suggest to already look and apply for jobs in the country you are moving to, before you are there. It is not uncommon that companies do a job interview by telephone if they know you are not living there yet.

6. Find out what is needed if you want to study or continue the study you are already following in your home country.

7. Get 2 forms from the organisation where you have your health/social insurance: E 104 and E 301.

- The E 104 is needed to get a new health insurance in the country you are moving to. It shows that you have been insured in your home country.

- The E 301 is needed if you are unlucky with finding a job (or losing one) and can get unemployment money. In Austria for instance, the office handling the unemployment money and taking over your health insurance, want this form as a proof to see how many years you have worked in your home country and that your former employers had insured you. Better to have that already in your possesion before you move, than having to wait for it once you really need it.

8. What are you going to do with your personal belongings: will you take them with you, and if so: how? I was very lucky that my father could arrange to have my stuff brought over to Vienna. It might be quite expensive if you do not know someone who can help you with that.

9. Maybe a silly tip, but a tip none the less: if you fly over, buy a retour ticket. It is usually cheaper than a one-way ticket.

10. Don't forget to unregister in your home town and ask for a print out.

Once you have arrived, register at the town hall and arrange your health/social insurance as soon as possible.

Don't postpone looking for a position or start studying. Especially when it comes to work: the longer you wait, the harder it will be. Also, do not expect you will be working on the same level as you did in your home country. Of course, if you speak the language fluently and have the right diploma's, your chances to find something that fits your working profile are good. But if that is not the case, you should be aware that you might end up having a job you have not studied for.
It can also be that your diploma's are not worth what they are in your home country, which could mean you are expected to follow a course before you can work in your field.

The best way to get to know people and make new friends, is to do a language course. This way you kill two birds with one stone. You will most likely meet people there who also moved to be with someone, which in addition to not knowing the language, creates a connection.

And last but not least: enjoy finally being together! \o/

For more useful information: see the link list in the right sidebar.

Monday, May 5, 2008

How Two Rogues Pick Pocketed each other's Hearts

This evening, before the server crashed (grml, was almost done with a BM run!), I was chatting along in the guild chat. And what do I find out: a member who joined the guild recently, has also met her boyfriend in World of Warcraft! Here is their story:

"It all started out ever so innocently, like it always does. I was introduced to WoW by a friend of mine and I had just started playing. My first character was a Night Elf Rogue with blue hair... later on my boyfriend would say that it was the blue hair that had attracted him, as well as my headstrong attitude :)

Me and some people were questing in Ashenvale when another night elf rogue got invited into the party. I was excitedly slashing away at things, but when the rest of the people completed their quests they hearthed away. This other Night Elf Rogue stayed behind to help me out though. We started talking and I was intrigued by him because he seemed to be interesting, intelligent and was making me smile.

A couple of days and quests later, I gave him my email address and the next day he emailed me from his work place. The more we talked, the more excited we both got and started telling each other the stories of our lives. I found out that he lived in England and he found out that I lived in Sweden. I began feeling such profound connection with this person I hardly knew, and while trust usually never came easily to me, I felt like I could really talk with him. Only a month later, we knew we had to try and see where this was going, so he bought me a ticket to England and I flew over there to live with him for a month. It was an amazing experience that changed me in many ways and by then I already knew I was completely in love.

That was two and a half years ago, and our journey has not been easy. As Gabi has written in her own story, long-distance relationships, wherever they start, are one of the hardest things anyone can possibly go through. It has taken us a long time to come to this point and we have survived more relationship horrors than most couples probably do in their entire life... But we are still here, and we believe that everything we have gone through has made us so much stronger. Our love for each other keeps growing every day. It is surreal to think that this all started with a couple of quests in an online game - fate and chance seem to go hand-in-hand in these situations - and it's hard to even think about what my life would look like right now if I hadn't been online one day during October 2005. Yet here we are, and my boyfriend Christopher is still the most wonderful and caring person I have ever known. We have gone through fire and water to be together but now it's all finally coming together. We are currently looking for our own place in Sweden, as he is moving to live with me.

World of Warcraft is still part of our relationship and we have levelled many characters together since the day we met, having a lot of fun along the way. I also love watching him play on his PS3 and cheering him on :)

We know that there are going to be more hardships along the way, but we also believe that when you meet that right person - no matter how or where or who - you need to hold on and fight for that, because it's never going to come again. If you don't take your chances, you will never know what could have happened. One thing is for sure: he has changed my life and I wouldn't be the person I am today without him."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Counting the Days: the Tale of Ionara and Elimthor

This is the story of a 21 year old woman and a 23 year old man, both living in different states in the USA, who have started a virtual relationship in World of Warcraft and have not met in the real world, but will soon:

“Originally, we met online via AOL, in a chat room. I thought he hated me at first, and apparently he was intimidated by me (which blows my mind!), so we never talked. I had never really said more than "hello" to him, until he asked for some pictures from me and mentioned that he had been a long time World of Warcraft player. The timing was great, because I had just started playing WoW with my brother and sister-in-law. We decided to play together so he could help me understand the game a little better, and it became a daily ritual for us. Thank God, because I'm so very happy with him. We grow closer and closer every day, and even though he's half a country away from me, I know it doesn't get any better. He's more than I could ever wish for.

I think the turning point for us was a random jealous moment of mine while we were playing, that opened both of our eyes. He had been talking to another female player about Anime (he loves it), and I just couldn't stand that he was talking to someone else for some reason... I couldn't figure out why until it dawned on me that I liked him. I really liked him! After that point, we slowly started to get more intimate with each other, kissing and hugging and flirting (virtually, of course), until I couldn't stand to be away from him anymore. We finally got on the subject about our feelings for each other, and started "talking" as it were, until he asked me to be his woman.

I can't tell you how much I enjoy his company and love hearing his voice. He's my lover, my mate, and I can't wait to have him in my arms. Which will be soon! We have decided that it's time for a visit, and he's coming to see me in a month and a half!”

I am looking forward to hear about your real life meeting, so: to be continued!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Things We Do For Love, an amazing love story

The following MMO love story was sent to me yesterday. After I had read it, I could not wait for my man to come home so he could read it as well. We were, and still are, blown away by this awsome, crazy story. Therefore I am very happy that this MMO couple has given me permission to share their astonishing tale with you all.

"I was a lonely, 32 year old woman who had just moved to Europe after growing up in the USA. I was lonely, depressed and finding it very difficult to fit into my new life. I had always been a gamer, but had never played a MMOG. I decided to give World of Warcraft a chance. I made a Human Rogue called Apocalypta on a role playing server, and started to level her up slowly. I loved the role playing aspect of the whole thing and was very active in fleshing out my character. Being Apocalypta was my life for a long time. She became who I am. My life was on WoW, because my real life was pretty crap.

One day, whilst hanging out in Stormwind and having an In-Character argument with another player, I met this brash warrior named Kordeth. As you probably know, it can be a rare thing to find someone who is articulate and beyond the usual "lol" culture, and we both were very impressed with each other. He was so smart, so funny; I liked him right away. So we started to play together on an every day basis.

The first time we had "sex" was in Gnomergan – after the instance run of course! We were strictly in character at first. The relationship that unfolded was between Apocalypta and Kordeth, not between D. and J. It did not take long for our characters to fall in love though. It was very intense; every day we spent hours together role playing a relationship. Eventually I could not help but to develop real feelings for him.

Our relationship was well known on the server: everybody knew we were a couple. When our characters married, we had many players show up for the festivities. By this time, now several months after we had met for the first time in Stormwind, I was totally in love with him.
It took a while before I had the nerve to ask him if there would ever be a chance of us getting together in real life. Imagine my hurt feelings when he said: 'no way'! Apparently, our age difference, him being 25, me 34, was too great. I was shocked; he had role played the romance with as much vigor and realism as I had, and I was convinced that my real life feelings were being felt by him as well.

It had been over a year now since we had "met" online. I still didn't know his full name, what he looked like or in which city he lived. Still, I wanted to be with this man at all costs. I did not care what he said, I did not care that I lived in another country. So, (oh god, I sound like a stalker!) I said 'to hell with it', and decided to move to his country anyway. I told him that I had gotten a good job there and figured that once I would live there, it would be harder for him to resist me. I finally got him to tell me what city he lived in, and that was where I went.
I got a job in a pub and started on my campaign to make him meet me. Once I was there though, he started to become very distant: not coming online, not being as enthusiastic as he was in the beginning. I started to think I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. I felt really, really stupid. What the hell had I done?!?

At some point I could not afford WoW anymore. I convinced him to call me and to exchange photos. It was then that he told me he loved me, but that we could not be together. I was worried: was he married? Why could two people who loved each other not be together?

This situation went on for months; me begging to meet him, him stalling me. Finally, one day, it all came to a head. He had something important to tell me: it turned out that he had lied to me. He was only 18 years old (16 when we had "met"). Oh shit!
He assumed by telling me the truth, this would be the end. But I forgave his lie and we met just a few days later.

It has been almost two years now and we have not been apart for even a day. It was hard at first; financially I had messed up pretty bad, dropping everything to be with him. We even ended up living with his parents for a few months. Today, we both have good jobs though, and a nice flat near the capital city. I cannot imagine my life without him.
We still play WoW, but on a different server and with different characters. It is not as integral part of our lives now though, since we do not need WoW to be together anymore. Just last night he gave me a thorough thrashing on Age of Empires 3 multiplayer. Gaming is part of our relationship, it is our hobby and it just happens to be what brought us together!"

Monday, April 21, 2008

MMO Couples Questionnaire nr. 1

For research purposes I have composed a questionnaire that you can open here or through the link in the left side bar underneath My Profile. This survey is for people who have met in a MMOG and are having a relationship now. My goal is to gather information about how many MMO couples there are, some demographic information like age difference, sexuality, location, etc., in which MMOG's most relationships occur, and also how many people have taken the step to move to another country to be with their MMO lover.

I hope the MMO couples who are reading my blog will take the effort to fill in the survey, and spread the word to other MMO couples. It won't take up much of your time and your answers will be treated with complete confidentiality.

Thank you very much in advance!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Research: MMO Demographics and Psychology

I would like to point out that there is quite some research material available about the demographic, social and psychological aspects in the world of MMOG's. Interesting reads are "The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively Multi-User Online Graphical Environments", and "The Psychology of MMORPGs: Emotional Investment, Motivations, Relationship Formation, and Problematic Usage", both written by Nicholas Yee (Department of Communication, Stanford University, http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/). These articles, that you can download from his webpage, date from 2006, and are based on serveying over 30,000 MMOG players.

A few days ago, I received an email from a woman who also met her husband in a MMOG. She wrote: 'What I would be interested in to find out, is if there is any trend with age difference. Most of the couples who I know have a long term romance that started in a video game, are older women and younger men. For myself, I am 6-7 years older than my husband.'

My partner and I also have an age difference of about 3-4 years, me being the older one. So far I have not been able to find any research numbers concerning this topic. In the first article that I have mentioned above though, you can find a statistic on page 17 where the age range of men an women who play MMOG's is shown. Starting at the age of 23, there are significantly more female players compaired to male players in that same age range. Just looking at these numbers, one could suggest that because there are more younger male players in MMOG's, the chances are high that an older female player gets romantically involved with a younger male player.

Apart from the fact that guys consider it cool that girls/women play MMOG's, I also believe that younger male players might be more attracted to older female players. In the three years that I have been playing World of Warcraft, I have chatted with lots of younger guys (late teenagers and guys who are in their early twenties) who very easily opened up to me about personal issues. This could be explained because of my background as a social worker :), but I also believe it is easier to talk about private issues with people/women who may have a bit more life experience. Subsequently, the communication becomes more intimate, increasing the chance that one's curiosity is triggered and an online friendship or relationship starts to develop. For us 'older' women, a younger guy is of course very attractive due to his stats: more stamina, more strength. I am sorry; I could not resist :P

Other numbers that have caught my interest, have to do with the valuing of online friendships and the percentage of players who actually dated another player in the real world:

- 39.4% of male players and 53.3% of female players value there MMOG friends comparable or even better than their real life friends.

- 15.7% of male players and 5% of female players had physically dated someone they had met in an MMOG.

I am very curious if those numbers have increased in the last two years, and how many MMO crushes have resulted into succesful, long lasting relationships. What would also be interesting, is to investigate in which MMOG's most romances occur. I therefore hope, researchers will keep up the good work and continue putting effort into investigating intersocial relations and behaviour in MMOG's.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Story Continues

Some of my readers have requested to write something about how things went after I moved to Austria to live with my WoW-lover.

In retrospect I can say that on a psychological level it has not been easy. When the butterflies are all over the place, all you think of is being with the other as soon as possible. The consequences and implications of moving to another country are of secundairy importance. We did prepare the move quite well though: I had looked up information about working as an EU-citizen in another EU-country, about registering out of Holland, things like that. He looked into the registering procedure in Vienna and informed about how to arrange health insurance for me. Being an EU-citizen, it all turned out to be quite uncomplicated. My father had organized to get my belongings to Vienna, I bought a flight and moved into my partner's 46 square metre apartment.

The first three months felt like a super long, exciting vacation; I took two courses to fresh up my high school German, met new people, made friends and explored the city. And best of all: we were together now! It was unbelievable that we could be together every evening, night and weekend (and still is). No more sad partings at the airport, huray \o/!

But sooner or later, reality hit me: I started to miss my friends and family in Holland, and discovered I had no clue where to go with my life. I felt completely lost. Having the opportunity to make a new start in life, is a rare gift. But if you do not know in which direction to go, it is very frustrating and confusing. In some way, I also felt I had no past anymore. I had left everything behind and had stepped into my partner's world, his life, his present, and had some awkward confrontations with his past too.
There was nothing here to remind me of my old life. For one thing, I could hardly put any personal belongings in the apartment because it was so small. Everything had to stay in the moving boxes until we moved to a bigger flat. This may seem an unsignificant example, but it truly makes quite a difference if you can personalize your surroundings at least a bit. All in all, it was a very strange and disturbing awareness, and there were many moments that I feared I would not be able to make it here.

Through the uncle of my partner I managed to get a job in an art gallery, but that did not turn out to be what I had expected. So after ten months I decided to quit and tried to figure out what to do next. I have always wanted to write, so I took the opportunity to start working on a few topics. In the meanwhile I occasionally looked for a part-time job so that I could get away from the computer, be part of a team again and get my (financial) independence back. I am happy to say that I have recently started working in a very nice lingery shop. Now I am slowly feeling that I am getting in control of my life again.

When it comes to our relationship, we were convinced it would work out. It has worked out, but to be honest I am quite surprised about that. We did not know eachother's bad sides and habbits before we started to live together. We did not realize how hard it was going to be for me to start over and how that was going to effect our relationship. So far though, we have overcome it all.

The whole event was definitely set on a heroic difficulty level, but what an epic world drop to loot at the end :)

Thank you all!

I would like to thank those who have spread the word about my blog, the people commenting on it and people sending me their stories, ideas and suggestions for more content. I very much appreciate your effort and respect your opinions, eventhough some are based on lack of information from my side, which is irrelevant for this blog and I will keep to myself.

Like I have written in my word of welcome, this blog focusses on the positive encounters with other people in MMOG's. That those new encounters can lead to the end of existing relationships or friendships, is of course sad. But in the end it has nothing to do with online role playing games: the same can happen at work, in a pub or by simply bumping into someone at the supermarket. Internet is just another social environment, and where there are people, there are feelings, emotions, chemistry, or whatever you want to call it.

I am looking forward to getting more imput from you. For pimping up this blog and not focussing too much one particular MMO, I especially welcome screenshots of MMO couples who play and have met in other online games.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

From online flirting to meeting for real: tips to prepare your adventure

If you have a crush on someone in your MMOG and it looks like it is mutual, you might come to a point that you very much like to meet each other in the real world. In the three years that I have been playing, I have met people who took that step but ended up being disappointed or even hurt. In the end, you can never know if the online chemistry is also there when you meet face to face.
There are ways to decrease that chance. Here are a few tips that I think will help you prepare for meeting the person behind the char.

1. Communicate and be open: talk with each other about your expectations. Can you stay at his or her place or would a hotel be better; could it be that you will sleep together or does one of you not consider that option at a first date at all, things like that.

2. Decrease the risk of disappointment: if you do not want to have a real blind date, send each other pictures and call each other in advance.

3. Be realistic: be aware of the possibility that the chemistry is not there, either for one of you or for the both of you. Talk about what that would mean. In my case for instance, he said I would still be welcome to stay at his place. We both felt that we would have a good time together anyways, since it was not only attraction we felt but friendship as well.

4. Have a backup plan in case you are not meeting close to where you live, or even in another country, and it is a disaster. Have a city map and some addresses of hotels with you so you can find your way around and have a place to sleep. Explore the city and make the best out of your trip abroad! Maybe there are other players you know or guildmembers living there. You could take the opportunity to meet and have a drink together :)

5. If it totally rocks: enjoy it to the fullest! But be aware what consequences it might have, especially when you do not live in the same country. Going back home after your first amazing get together is painful to say the least. If you do not have the (financial) means to travel back and forth, it might be the only time you can see each other. So very important: communicate about your plans and possibilities for the near future, before you go home.

P.S.: let someone back home know where you are (name of the person you are meeting, address/telephone number, hotel).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Mystery of Ingame Attraction

How does it work, this allurement in online games? First of all you cannot truly see someone. What you see, is an animated, customized character; either a fantasy character like in World of Warcraft or Perfect World, or one that looks more realistic like in Second Life. But even the realistic ones are still animations and will most likely not come close to the features you have in real life.
Apart from lacking a truthful image of a person, you lack other significant information as well: for instance how someone smells, moves and what he or she feels like. You can talk to each other through Skype or Teamspeak, but that also has its limitations: the voice is more or less distorted and you can't see someone's facial expressions when he or she is talking to you.

So the only tool you seem to have to gather information about a person, is the chat function. But is that truly all there is? In fact, it is not. Playing together can give you additional information you would not get from a first or second real life date. You can see how someone behaves while questing together in a small or bigger group, which can tell you if someone is helpful, reliable, punctual, generous, a good listener, smart, a team player, bossy, rude, humorous, etc., etc.

In my opinion these impressions can be more valuable than the information you get through chatting, because you have to take into account that people can easily mislead you. Apart from the possibility of people telling lies about their age or physical features, the pretty Blood Elf girl dancing on a table in the inn of Shattrath City can very well be a male player. According to a recent university study entitled 'Gender Swapping and Socializing in Cyberspace: An Exploratory Study', 70% of female players and 54% of male players have played a character of the opposite gender. In my experience, it can be quite hard to detect someone's true gender; I have known some guys playing female chars very, very convincingly :)

It is much harder to act as a different, nicer, more attractive person when you are playing in a group or raid, than you might be in the real world. The players want to achieve something and depend on eachother, which requires organisation, concentration, patience and social skills. It is in those situations, people ingame often show manners and a way of behaving they would probably also display at work or at school. So by observing someone's behaviour while actively playing, you can get quite a valid picture of his or her personality.

Eventhough you lack a real life image, taking the possibility of (voice)chatting and the behavioral aspects into consideration, it is not so hard to imagine that one can fall in love with another player. No matter what kind of MMO, fantasy or realistic, you play. This could mean that visual images are not so important for ingame romance afterall, certainly not on the long run. But how about the first feelings of being attracted to someone; someone whom you do not know so well yet? How can one friendly player trigger your curiosity and the wish to learn more about him or her more than the other?

A well customized character can look appealing, especially female characters: boobs, a sexy dress and a nice ass already do the trick for most men. But in the end, they physically all look more or less the same. So why would one Night Elf girl or a muscular, handsome male Human have more effect on you than the other? And how can you feel attracted to someone who plays an ugly Troll or a boney, evil looking Undead? To me, that will probably always be a mystery.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Share your story!

Have you met your dream man or dream woman in a MMOG and would you like to share your story on my blog? Then feel free to mail me your text and if possible an ingame screenshot (.jpg) of the two of you. You can find my emailaddress in my profile.

I am also very interested in how other people succesfully combine gaming and being in a relationship.

How I met my Night Elf Hunter

At the age of 29, my life seemed pretty much settled; I had a good job, was in a steady relationship for 10 years and had recently bought a nice flat together with my partner. I thought it was what I wanted and I told myself I was happy. My partner at the time was quite a hardcore gamer, at least in my opinion. Occasionally I would watch him play, but apart from Tetris, Hearts and Minesweeper, I never felt like playing games such as Sims, GTA or Tombraider myself. Until World of Warcraft came.

As soon as World of Warcraft was released, he had his copy at home. The first weekend I sat next to him and watched while he leveled his pretty character and discovered this beautifully designed virtual world. The game appealed to me instantly and I was quite jealous that I could not play it too. So he gave me a copy as a present. Who could forsee it was going to trigger the end of our relationship, and start the beginning of a new one.

I created a Night Elf druid called Gabrielle and almost instantly found nice people to chat and quest with. Unfortunately the game would often crash, which made it difficult to play in a party. People always had to wait for me to come back online, which was very annoying. The day I would meet my nightelf hunter, that was again the case. So I told my group to continue without me and wondered off on my own in an area called Westfall. After a while I met a Dwarf, a Human and a Night Elf at one of the farms, and asked if I could hang around with them. This Night Elf Hunter called Tofukiller started to dance and flirt with me immediately, making me laugh in front of my monitor. We did a few quests together, became online friends and not much later I received an invitation to join the guild he and his friends were in.

It is very hard to pinpoint when the friendship turned into something more. I do remember being curious about him from the start. I started to ask him questions about his real life; what his name was, how old he was, what occupation he had, what he looked like. We soon talked about private things that happened in our lives as well, which made our friendship quite intimate. We played almost every day and whenever I saw the phrase 'Tofukiller has come online' in the chat, I felt an adrenaline shot run through my body. When he would start to whisper me, I felt even happier. Before I knew it, he was on my mind constantly and I could not help wondering and fantasizing what the guy would be like for real.

There is a black hole in both our memories when it comes to the point that we started to talk about being sexually interested in each other, especially which one of us took the initiative. I do know that I was the one taking the friendship out of Azeroth and suggesting to start emailing and calling each other. I also suggested to meet in the real world. So it is most likely I started talking about sex as well ;)

About two months after we had met in Westfall, we started to plan a blind date in Vienna. We talked many hours what it would be like to see and touch each other for real. Would we be shy, would we kiss each other immediately, would we have sex, ... We were very much aware though of the possibility that we might not be attracted to each other at all. Therefore we discussed sending pictures of each other in advance. But in the end we decided not to and truly keep it a blind date. For me that was in a way important, because I wanted to see if the instant attraction that I felt online would work at the airport, where he was going to pick me up, as well.

The weeks that followed were an all-in-one package of hell and heaven. Hell because of us having to wait until the first weekend of June to meet the faces behind the chars. Being in the process of breaking up with my boyfriend and making arrangements to move out, did not make things easier either. It was heaven because I had never felt so excited and in love in my life. The grass was greener, the lights were brighter... I simply was on a never ending natural high.

When the day of our encounter finally arrived, my heart was continuously trying to beat itself out of my chest. It was not only because of meeting him; it was also my first trip abroad on my own. Double excitement! Walking to the arrivals hall in Vienna Airport was probably the most difficult bodily action I ever had to accomplish. When I saw him though, standing in the hall, being cute and smiling, my head was empty and I walked up to him and kissed him. We took a taxi to his place, which was a 40 minute drive of us holding each other, smiling, giggling and sighing. Once we were there, ah well, you can fill that in yourselves :x

After this amazing weekend, we travelled back and forth to visit each other as often as we could. In August we had 10 days together and because things were going wonderfully between us, we decided I was going to live with him in Vienna. That was over 2,5 years ago. Today we are still together, very happily. And: we still play World of Warcraft together too. How about that!