Virtual friendships flourish, too

Sarah Lelonek

Recently two friends of mine ended their year-long relationship. The relationship didn’t go down hill because of cheating or lying. An MMORPG did them in.ÿ

For those of you who don’t know what MMORPGs are, they’re massively multiplayer online role-playing games. For example, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars.ÿ

Their relationship ended because my friend couldn’t give up his addiction to Warcraft when his girlfriend asked him to. It’s not called “Warcrack” for nothing.ÿ

This isn’t the first relationship I know of that’s ended because of an addiction to the world of online gaming. It’s actually the third or fourth break up this year alone.ÿ

But why end a relationship over a video game?ÿ

The answer: I have no idea.ÿ

Sure, people may stereotype gamers as loners who enjoy sitting online all night killing pixilated monsters, but there’s more to gaming than that.ÿ

Playing a game such as Warcraft involves much more human interaction than one would think. Gamers join guilds, or hordes depending on which game they play, with other gamers. These guilds work together on the game to complete quests to gain experience, weapons, items and money used in the game. When a guild disbands, friends, not just other gamers, are lost.ÿ

Many of my friends grew up playing the MMORPG Everquest. They’ve made lasting friendships with other gamers in their guild.

Recently, I started playing a 2-D MMORPG called Maple Story. My boyfriend, best friend, roommate and his girlfriend all play the game with me. We help each other kill adorable mushrooms and green jelly-like creatures while we chat about our lives and different topics.ÿ

I see MMORPGs not as just a video game; I see them as a way to hang out with my friends. Sure, we’re not going out to the movies or dancing in a club, but I am still having contact with my friends while having fun. Isn’t that what hanging out is all about?ÿ

I’ve also heard non-gamers complain about the amount of hours spent playing MMORPGs.

I am a full-time student with a part-time job. I spend my free time doing homework and gaming. On average, I spend around two to three hours with my various games.ÿ

Before criticizing me on how I spend my time, consider this: How much time do you spend watching TV?ÿ

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American men older than the age of 15, on average, spend 5.7 hours engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing or exercising. Women spend 4.9 hours on average.ÿ

Watching TV accounted for about half of the leisure time for both men and women.ÿ

According to this survey, I would be watching TV for roughly 2.5 hours a day. I don’t watch TV. My TV doesn’t have cable or satellite hooked up to it, only a Playstation 2. I spend my time with video games.

Sure, some people play MMORPGs for upwards of eight hours a day, but not all gamers do.

I look at those who spend most of their time with MMORPGs as people who enjoy meeting and interacting with new people – not as lazy slobs who don’t do anything all day.ÿ

There is more to being a gamer than killing, questing and roaming new realms. There are friendships made over games that can last a lifetime. Friendships shouldn’t be denied because they’re through a game on the Internet. Instead, they should be given the proper time to flourish.ÿ

So before telling your significant others, roommate or friends to get a life and get off the computer, consider that they might already have one. Their life just consists of pixels and chat boxes.ÿ

Sarah Lelonekÿis a junior magazine journalism major and a reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].