I won’t lie, I love playing an online game every now and then. It is a great way to relax (until I start hurling abuse at my monitor directed at somebody else behind their monitor) and enjoy being better than somebody else at something. This being said my parents aren’t quite so impressed by my ‘love’ for playing games. Almost everybody who lives with their parents and plays games is used to hearing things like, “why would you pay for games? It is a waste of money”, or “Why don’t you go outside and do something, maybe catch up with some of your friends?” and of course, the classic, “you don’t make any real friends online, they are just a stranger behind a screen”. Although I have a million or more answers to these questions that I have rehearsed and used more times than I could hope to count I’m using this post to take a look at the third big point about how they aren’t really your friends, and I’m going to do this by telling you the story about the first time I met a ‘gaming friend’, in real life.
I play a lot of different online games, most of which have a competitive nature, so naturally I was drawn to games such as CS:GO (Counter Strike Global Offensive) and League of Legends. When I had started out playing League towards the end of 2015 I found a group of people who always played together that were both fun to play with, and fun to talk to so I naturally gravitated towards the group. One day while we were playing they invited somebody I didn’t know yet, I just assumed they were part of the group and we started playing. Since I played ADC and Vey (the person who had just joined) played support (the only duo lane in the game) we began playing together more often, slowly getting to know each other better. We kept playing together either with, or without, the rest of the group once or twice a week for a few months until just before my 18th birthday I randomly got a message asking where I was in the city from Vey after my cousin had posted something to my Facebook wall while we were having lunch. And so, after lunch, we met up.
When you interact a lot with people from behind a screen you learn very quickly how to not assume anything from their voice and because of this it was certainly a strange experience to put a face, to the voice. After the initial awkwardness of actually meeting someone you were so friendly with online and not being sure whether you should be acting the same way in person the rest of the day went pretty much as any normal catch up with friends might go. We continued to catch up face to face even as we started to play League less and less as each of us began to grow tired of the game but there was one thing that didn’t change which is pretty surprising (although I suppose makes sense if you think about it). We always used the other persons gamertag to refer to each other. Vey, is a year younger than me, and in the 2 and a half years I have known her I still don’t know what her actual name is, I think she told me once, but I promptly forgot. My online name is always some variation on SpyKids2IsAnAlrightMovie, shortened in this case to SpyKids. I don’t think it is wrong that we don’t bother to remember each others real names because we know each other by our online names, and there is no reason not to use them. Although you do tend to get some strange looks from people when you hear someone calling out SpyKids at the top of their voice to try to get my attention.