World of Warcraft
Better Than Social Media?
by Taylor Miller
A long-time friend of mine moved to California a few years ago to pursue his dream of writing movie scripts. Despite the considerable distance, I spend at least five hours a week hanging out and talking with him plus a handful of high school friends and digital strangers spread across the country. I’ve always loved video games. From Sonic to Halo, I’ve been an avid consumer but with my thirties looming ahead, video games have taken up a new role in my life: an easy way to keep in touch with old friends that doesn’t involve liking photos of the various meals they eat in their day-to-day life.
My teenage years (and more than a good portion of my college years) were spent playing video games. They were their most fun when I was sitting next to a friend playing some co-op game or yelling taunts at the unfortunate latecomers to Halo parties, forced to set up their TV and console in the bathroom because the other twelve people took every other nook of available space.
“Do you remember the time Grant was just about to win that capture the flag game and Chris sniped him?” “I can’t believe we finally beat that boss guys! Great Job!” I’ve always relished the sense of community I could feel from video games, and the distance-negating magic of online play expanded my social sphere in ever-widening rings.
Unlike the harrowing image South Park portrays, World of Warcraft has led to more socializing for me personally than nights alone with just the glow of a monitor illuminating my face. Okay, that still happens, but digitally? I’m connected to people in North Carolina, California, Nevada, Florida, Indiana, sometimes even Canada and Australia. I have a friend that I’ve never met in person. We’ve been friend for over a decade, a decade! I built him a new computer and shipped it to him so we could keep playing games together, and thus keep in touch. He helps me with questions about nutrition and exercise and I consider him a very dear friend despite the lack of that basic in-person interaction that initiates most friendships.
There are people in my life that chuckle at the idea of me being unable to hang out because I have “plans,” as if digital plans somehow count for less. Why is that? Despite not being able to see their faces, I get to speak and spend time in a shared space with old friends that live too far for spontaneous trips to be convenient. Sure he may look like a Troll in my field of view but that’s still my friend in California and I have to wonder, without games like World of Warcraft would we still be close? I once heard that men start losing friends as they get older, and I might not be able to halt that completely, but video games have certainly slowed the flow from a stream to a trickle.