All my life I’ve been an avid video gamer, ever since my mum bought my sisters and me a Nintendo 64 at a Car-Boot Sale back in the years before touch screens, Ipads and Candy Crush Saga was a “thing”. As my experiences went from Nintendo 64 to Playstation 2 to PSP to Playstation 3/Xbox 320 to now Playstation 4, I’ve constantly found my love for games and the art of creating it evolving. Most of my experiences have been playing single player – as my family has never really had a powerful enough internet to allow me to game online with others – with a few online Halo/Call of Duty matches here and there with, yes, random 12 year old boys cursing and screaming at me and calling my relatives a lot of bad names when I would beat them because apparently being a female and being better at shooting with a fake gun inside a video game means I’m a cheat. Anyway, these few past experiences with “online play” left a sour taste in my mouth, I didn’t take what they said seriously because I didn’t value myself on what these random strangers thought but it still scared me off from mindless ranting from people worldwide.
And then early last year my household finally got an Internet connection that not only allowed my sister to watch Make-up tutorials 24/7 but also allowed me to try “proper” online gaming.
I knew I didn’t want to start with some FPS (First Person Shooter- AKA games where you use a gun and try to kill people) game because they struck me as messy, so I picked up a game I had wanted to try for awhile, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
I was surprised at the beginning, it was just like the Final Fantasy games I’d played growing up as a single player, but there were random users with random names running around the world of Eorzea killing things trying to level up like me. I thought it was a pretty fun game almost immediately (come on, you get a giant chicken called a Chocobo to ride around on) but my online experience didn’t really start until I joined a free company, which is a guild or group that online players can found, and you can become a member of. I joined a free company called “The Honour Shields” aptly named because the guy who made it gets into characters he makes and believes honour is better than most other traits.
We started voice-chat about 2 months after I joined, and it was both surprising and enlightening. First, wow all the accents. In the free company I’m the only Australian player and it’s probably because I play late at night so I can still get my Diploma and socialize with friends in person during the day. So it was quite surprising to suddenly hear Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, British and German accents of both genders speaking to me.
Now getting to my main point of this blog, I differentiate between my “real life” friends (people I went to school with, who I attend our Leos Club with, people I see down town everyday) and my online friends, as two different groups of people I care about. Both groups I have close bonds with, laugh with and have fun with, but there is a difference. No matter how much I have in common with my online friends, they are online friends. They’re still people I like a great much, and I consider them close to me, but they live half way across the world and I can’t isolate myself to just having them to talk to. I still attend Leos Meetings, go to the cinemas, have BBQs and talk a lot with my “real life” friends because I understand it’s a dangerous thing to get swept up in the idea of perfect online friends that only see the better side of you. I care equally about my friends in game and in real life, and I think it’s a good thing to keep a balance between both.
Both real life and in game friends can be precious to you, and both different types are still human beings with feelings, emotions, aspirations and goals. Just remember not to cast out those who were close to you before you started playing a game online.
Also check the related topics:Managing friendships