Are in-game relationships real?
It's a silly question, but some people may answer no. So what is an in-game relationship?
While browsing through news and social media outlets, I stumbled upon a video that PC Gamer posted. (The entire post is actually pretty great: Link) The video is about the community of gamers that remained loyal to Asheron's Call until the last day. The game is 17 years old and the servers were shut down this year. Needless to say, those loyal to the game were upset. The entire post is riddled with heartfelt moments and sad goodbyes, as players desperately try to connect one last time with friends before the servers shut down.
For many gamers the heart-felt video is easy to sympathize with. However, there are others who simply can't understand how a video game was worth all of the crying.
"Why am I doing this?"
A question I asked myself near my 2nd year of running the Beer Warriors. It's something I have to ask myself often now, not because I don't know the reason, but because if I don't have a purpose then I am doing a disservice to this community. The answer to that question is always easy to find. I need only log on and listen to the members on the server. I need only watch the videos they've made, the online posts they've written and the messages they've sent me. Any time I hear a story of two Beer Warriors meeting at events wearing their Skull and Cross-beer shirts I get choked up.
I do it for those connections.
The Beer Warriors have created a culture amongst themselves, and they have devotion to that cause. They've become a family that literally spans the globe. Some members even came together to make a video explaining what the community means to them.
Back to the point.
In-game relationships still may not seem real to you, so let's take gaming out of it. These relationships are similar to the bonds made in groups like sports teams, biker gangs and jeep clubs. However, in-game relationships are often a little more intimate. Players often use gaming as an escape to let go of everything around them. Thus, we get to know each other's true nature pretty quickly. It can be a lot easier to share one's stress and deeper feelings when you don't have to see the person you're talking to.
"But you don't even know what they look like. They could be a creep!"
So? Not to sound like a hippy, but your preconceptions of people shouldn't matter. This brings me to the heart of these relationships. How often have you decided NOT to talk to a person or to disassociate yourself with them because of how they looked? Think about your closest friends. Got their faces in your head? Okay. You can probably categorize all of them into two or three groups of personalities, interests, beliefs, etc. that you're comfortable hanging out with. Not insulting you, but the diversity in your friend circle is likely not far-reaching.
Now imagine you're in a pitch black room with a bunch of strangers. The only thing you have to go off of is the conversations you have with them. Kind of like these people did...
Then there's online dating. I actually met my significant other on Bumble. Funny part is we were obsessed with each other before we even met. We understood each other on a different level. We were connected by personality, not looks. If you would choose not to date your loved one if they were ugly, had weird tattoo, a strange birthmark, or wore silly clothing, do you really have a right to question the integrity of an in-game relationship?
You see, true relationships go beyond stereotypes, labels, and cliques. Video game relationships are real heart-felt connections that extend beyond nationality, race and culture. Not to get too sappy, but that sounds a lot like real love.
Point is - the things that bind us and bring us together shouldn't be criticized. We should simply celebrate the spirit of connections and encourage them to flourish between strangers.