When I first started playing, I played for the social environment. I said that I’d get it just to use it like Instant Messenger, where I could chat with my friends in the game that they had all been playing for a week & ignoring me…
I decided on a druid because my guild needed a healer that wasn’t a paladin, and one of the people I was leveling up with already had a priest (and there wasn’t such a thing as shaman on alliance side at the time).
Real life friends & family can play together.
I have changed guilds & servers and such a couple times over the years, but I’ve always had Real Life friends on whatever server I played on. When I moved across the country to go to graduate school, leaving behind a big city life on the beach to live in a small college town, I was really scared, and sad that I had to leave everyone behind. However, I brought my WoW guild with me. I could log in and play with the same people that I was playing with back at my old home. I moved out too early and had pretty much a whole month to sit around and do nothing besides play WoW (I got a lot of PvP ranks that month!). I think that WoW was pretty much the only reason I could make that big of a change in my life – because I knew I had one constant source of friendship no matter where I went.
My mom also plays WoW. I got her started on the game so that we’d have something in common to talk about. She started off just playing around in the starting zones, and eventually moved on to raiding more than me & having better gear than I do! My uncle plays WoW. My boyfriend plays WoW. Most of the people I talk to outside of school play WoW. It’s the way that I stay connected with people & what I do to have “fun” outside of school (especially during the winter when the cold & snow makes me not want to be outside).
Guild friendships matter, too.
There’s also one story that I share when people say they don’t believe that WoW friendships are as real as face-to-face friendships. Aside from the fact that you can play WoW with your RL friends, I think that when tragedies happen, it shows how close a group of WoW players can be. Around the time I first started grad school, one of the other druids in my guild died. He was just a kid (like 16 or so). He got loot from a raid one day, and the next day, his brother posted on the guild forums that he had died in a car accident. The outpouring of support we gave the brother, and genuine grief that our guild members had over the death convinces me that WoW friendships are real friendships, even if we never see eachother face to face.
Forums are for friendships!
One of the things I’m known for is posting on the WoW forums. At this point, the best spot to find me is whatever that day’s Customer Service Forum off-topic post is. I’ve been chatting in the druid & Customer Service Forum for a long time. I know who all the “regular” CSF people are, and I’m always happy when I see them posting. The forum crew is probably the most constant group of “friends” I’ve had during all the phases & transitions over the last few years. When there were fewer druids, the druid forum was a great place to hang out and chat with other druids, but It’s not as fun to hang out there as much anymore. Even if I changed servers or guilds, I still had the Customer Service forum to look forward to chatting with. The CSF seems like a strange place to enjoy hanging out & posting, but I like it. At some point, I went there because I liked helping people. Now, I go there because I want to chat with my forum buddies.
I think the blogging community has a lot of the same benefits, too. You get to have conversations with other people who share your interests (WoW and writing about WoW). You get to know some of the other bloggers who have similar topics & you get to be part of a community.
WoW isn’t just a video game. It’s a community of people who share a common interest.