A few years ago, I broke the only carnal rule I ever made with gaming. I took the dreaded, life-changing step into the world of MMOs. As I'm sure many weak-minded people like me might agree it was possibly the worst mistake of my life.
Caught in by the buzz surrounding Warhammer Online around its release, and being a huge Warhammer Fantasy fan to boot, I simply couldn't resist anymore. And to be fair, it was an experience. Nothing, in my experience, beats the thrill of completing a dungeon after a month of trying, trying again trying again; banging your head on the keyboard and swearing profusely untill eventually cracking it. Not to mention guild friendships that are formed, which are pretty damn awesome if you're not used to that from your gaming. But these are subjects for other blogs. It took only a few weeks untill I experienced the shady, murky depths of my own soul, reflected in the pure evil of gaming addiction.
It started in the same way it does for most people. A few missed appointments, a lack of energy when not playing the game, and a creeping disregard for your social life. I knew what was happening, I'd seen it before. My friends began to seem distant memories and I began to only move to poop and eat. Even my best friend Stu I saw less and less, though curiously that wasn't my choice, he also seemed distant.
I substituted these friends with those online, and to be fair, it wasn't so bad. We still chatted, joked and entertained each other, mucked around like puerile children and generally had a laugh. Despite having now ended my time playing MMO's (for now, Guild Wars 2 looks sooooo tempting but I don't want to fail my degree) I still keep in contact with my online buddies. However all the while my friends and I drifted apart, substituted by online guild friends.
One in particular I was very close with. We always PVP'd together, we stuck together when ganking and got on really well. He shared my sense of humour and we just enjoyed playing together. Without a microphone however, it was difficult to really communicate so I bugged him for months about it till he caved and bought one.
Upon first hearing his voice, I had a weird sense of recognition. I asked where he was from, and he did exactly the same thing as I usually do, saying "Just north of london".
I practically crapped my pants.
I asked what his IRL name was, and, almost suspisciously he said, "...Stu?"
We laughed for a long time about that. We both had thought we'd been drifting apart but actually, as it turned out, we were such good friends that we'd been virtually syncing our friendship. I would say I got a cool story out of it but when I tried telling my parents this story at the time and they just looked at me oddly and asked if I was meeting up with strange men online, while my brother said that it was plain weird. Is it?