Next to Wikipedia, which I use like it were air, do you know what one of the largest wikis is out there? If you guessed WoWwiki, you are correct – at sixth place in numbers of users. While the number of players has gone down a bit, World of Warcraft is still the largest MMO out there, and the players have created quite the community (as is evidenced in the size WoWwiki) both in and outside of their guilds.
With that in mind, I figure that it maintains its superiority in numbers over other MMOs for several reasons, but the most significant: many of us have made friends in Azeroth – friendships that have broken the borders of virtual reality and emigrated to reality.
Blizzard has realized the importance that socializing has taken in today’s virtual realms. Be it social networking sites like Facebook and Google+, maybe RPGs like Second Life, or even people gathering on political blogs like DailyKos and RedState. Of course, there are forums for all interests. In all instances, people take their online relationships and move them to email and chat outside of that realm – and sometimes to real life visits.
And all of this is not just for the young ones out there. Aside from the grand mother I wrote about, my mother, for another example, is rapidly encroaching on 72. A little over ten years ago, she got her first computer. Once she got enough figured out so as not to be too dangerous or threatening, she embarked on the Internet and found a variety of rose forums. My mother, you see, loves her roses and her garden, and needed some advice. Once out there, she began getting involved in one conversation after another, and soon, she had made several new friends, many of whom now call her daily; some of whom have come to visit her from as far away as New Hampshire, in one case (she lives in New Mexico). When the time came to build her website, it was no problem for her to find someone to do it, and it was done. She now has a Facebook and has a beautiful farm on Farmville.
Back to Azeroth.
I realized last summer that the friends I was making in Azeroth were following me into reality. I now receive Christmas cards from Mandy, who plays a mean warlock. Another friend set me up for last winter’s fun with an inner-tube that would fit a large truck. I have met cats, dogs, kids, shared writing, philosophies, and so on with friends. When a couple of Cooper’s Hawks nested and had a family in my yard, my friends from WoW were regularly updated with pictures.
For those interested, in the picture below, the father’s back is facing in the opposite direction from his three babies.
When my wife went in for surgery a while back, my mail in Azeroth was full of messages wishing her well. Note, that she does not play (I tried, she just couldn’t get the hang of the controls), but these friends were there in thought. She has not met them, though from time to time if I am on Ventrillo, she will say hello. But, every day for a couple of weeks, each time I logged on, there was a barrage of questions about her condition.
When I am not in Azeroth, you can find me lurking in a variety of other areas on the web, especially news and political blogs. One blog that I frequent is DailyKos. The people who visit this site have created relationships that span all sorts of venues – even forming a guild in World of Warcraft, Wreck List. They established this guild as an intersection of political and social media and created a place where friends can meet and play together. As well, they do some wonderful in-game events similar to what they want to see in reality. While it is first and foremost a social guild, they do make room for players who enjoy the larger aspects of the game with regular raid times, battle grounds and other PVP events, leveling alts, and so on. But, they do it with a core value of social grouping with friends and family from real life and those imported from their virtual realities. While DailyKos is a political site, the GM provides regular updates for all members of that site.
In a recent update, Blizzard made a nice tweak to the Real ID system. In case you don’t know about it, Real ID enables players to maintain contacts across realms, factions, and even across Blizzard’s other MMOs. I discovered how wonderful this was when I got bored with my Horde characters and decided to play an Alliance. With Real ID, I was able to take my friends with me.
With the changes in Real ID, a player can now form a party with a friend from another realm, of course, you must still be in the same faction. This is a nice change. I have friends that I have met in the game spread across various realms, and now we can form parties and hit dungeons and raids together. I also have friends in real life that play and I can keep in touch with them in game via Real ID. Prior to this update, we could not group up, now we can. Of course, the question that skeptics will ask, why not get together in real life? The answer is simple, they’re mostly in different states – which makes actual social time hard coordinate. With the update, it is no longer simply chatting, but now we can engage in non-WoW activities with each other.
Now, I am not saying that World of Warcraft is competing with Facebook and other social media; instead, it is just providing another avenue for people to socialize. No, this will not under any circumstances replace real life connections, after all, rarely do we use each others’ first names, even when we know them — it is just another avenue to connect, reconnect, or make and develop new relationships. Blizzard has taken steps to create another place to “meet up” with friends from reality when meeting up is not easy.
Have you found World of Warcraft or other MMOs to be an opportunity to meet and make new friends?
For more World of Warcraft Wisdom click — HERE.