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.

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.