I'm not much of a multiplayer guy, especially now. My relationship with online gaming has always been: get into a game my friends are playing → get too into that game my friends are playing → my friends stop playing → now I'm just getting incredibly upset at strangers in solo competitive queue and eventually go back to single player RPGs. I have never once made a new friend by meeting them in a videogame or community around a videogame, though weirdly enough I have made a friend through Twitter of all places.
I know people do make friends through the games they play or their attending online communities though, with no real-world connections otherwise tying them together. My brother got so close to his Counter-Strike: Source clan mates that he drove out to meet one at a Ruby Tuesday in rural Michigan back in the aughts. Friendship can bloom, even on the battlefield!
Have you ever made a friend through a videogame? Here's our answers, as well as a few from our forum.
Tim Clark, Brand Director: Absolutely. I've been playing Destiny 2 with mostly the same rotating cast of clan mates for about six years. We don't swap pics, other than of pets and bbq food, so I've mostly never seen their faces, but we've spent hundreds (thousands?) of hours together, complaining about the game, trying to keep our tempers during day one raids, shooting the shit about perks, and new weapons, and plenty of real-life stuff too. I know there's a lot made about how it gets harder to make and keep friends as you get older, but for me—particularly as someone who's moved state multiple times—the stability of having a regular group of gaming pals has been a great blessing.
Mollie Taylor, Features Producer: I've lost count of how many friends I've been blessed with thanks to Final Fantasy 14. They'll always hold a special place in my heart, even as I've stepped away from the MMO to focus on other games and hobbies. Not only was I lucky enough to join a lovely guild, but I was also able to make friends just by hanging out in the same spot in Limsa Lominsa every day. When I had Covid during New Year's Eve in 2021, my guildmates were the people to hang out with me, celebrating the arrival of 2022 in Discord while video chatting, drinking and mucking about in-game. It's a memory I'll never forget.
Even if we haven't played together for a few months, I still regularly keep in touch with a handful of them. Being able to take that friendship and still maintain it away from the thing that brought us close has been something I've really appreciated, and I'd consider them all as much a friend as anyone else in my life. I even bumped into one of my Limsa friends in real life after a concert last year. Talk about a small world!
Joshua Wolens, News Writer: I literally grew up on top of a mountain, which made seeing my IRL friends a bit of an endeavour back when I was 13-15 years old, so I spent a lot of time messing about on the family laptop. It wasn't quite up to the task of rendering anything so resplendent as graphics, though, which meant all I could really play was Achaea, a text-based MUD, on the mighty 256 KB/s (on a good day) we had up there. I made plenty of friends and the occasional enemy, and spent a lot of sleepless nights chattering away with American guildmates, all of whom were the kind of amiable weirdos that still chose to play MUDs in the year of our Lord 2006. I've lost touch with most of them, save one, but the experience left its mark: My speech is still peppered with Americanisms I picked up from my Achaean pals, all of which sound absolutely ridiculous in my plummy, posh-boy British accent.
I don't play any MMOs now, though. They all have graphics. Gross.
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: I've made tons of friends online over the years, through and around games. Some were really fun, transient relationships -- shout out to GatoPescad0, who I met on a random Halo PC capture the flag server in like 2004, added on Xbox Live and reunited with for about two weeks with every new Halo release up through Halo 5. But I've also established some lifelong friendships through gaming forums—as I'm writing this I'm actually spending the weekend with a friend who I met through a Final Fantasy forum in the year 2005. Another of my closest friends, who I see a couple times a year, I met playing Halo 3 in college. Meeting people through videogames: highly recommended!
It also makes me a bit sad that I don't think our current social media platforms are nearly as effective as fostering these kinds of friendships as the game forums and nascent online voice chat programs of the early 2000s were. Part of that is just the societal shift as a whole—being online was once an escape that it isn't anymore, and when you were escaping you tended to gravitate towards other people who felt out of place in their day-to-day lives. The centralized scale of social media and the follower-following structure is just not great at facilitating close friendships. That's one reason I'm glad to see Twitter dying and everyone rethinking how social media works in general right now. There's definitely a better way... and arguably we already had it figured out 20 years ago.
From our forum
McStabStab: In the year leading up to my first son's birth I went HARD into gaming. I knew my free time would soon be limited so I went all in. It started with PUBG and I joined a couple of discord servers that grew into communities of people that I would talk to and game with daily. We even got to the point that we were gifting each other games and helping out with other life projects (gofundme's and such). Some of the group was meeting in person but I always stayed away because I knew that it would all come to an end for me eventually (and you never know if someone could be HH Holmes).
I tried to keep gaming online after my kids were born but couldn't justify the use of time versus actual dad responsibilities, so I pretty much ghosted my group. Turned off notifications from the discord, went invisible on all communities, and that's all she wrote.
A few folks have reached out since then just to see if I'm alive, and I just tell them that life is crazy busy with kids... and it's the truth. I do much more single player gaming now, and if I am playing online I don't want people to see I'm on and expect me to commit to a match. I'm sure others have had the same experience.
DXCHASE: I've made friends but nothin like actual friendship-y. I played with a group of guys in HS semi-professionally in Ghost Recon and GR:Island Thunder but when those games faded, so did us playing together.
Currently I "run" a clan in Destiny 2 with a good majority of active players, but I havent really formed a "friendship" with any of them (even though I have tried on some occasions!) outside of my wife and son who are also in the clan. A lot of my play is either with them or solo outside of the occasional person asking for help, but it's not like we are friends and all.
Pifanjr: I have never made a friend through a videogame, but I have made friends through online games. Sort of, none of them lasted after I stopped playing.
I played in a West Marches style D&D campaign for about 2 years, until it slowly fizzled out when the main GM stopped being as engaged. I didn't keep in contact with any of the other players, though one of them did wish me a happy birthday last week out of nowhere.
I also played Mafia for quite a while on the forum where I met my wife. I actually met up with a couple of people I had gotten to know when I went on a trip to the USA. I stopped playing when life got busier, but I was still in a Discord server with people I used to play with. However, at some point I muted it and now I never check it anymore.
ZedClampet: I've made friends in games before, and we still chat occasionally over Steam. I stopped playing multiplayer games, so that doesn't happen to me anymore, but I may fire one up when my son goes away to college this fall, as I don't have any real world friends who game.
Colif: Yes, though it was on PlayStation.
I made a few playing Journey but I could never understand them, as in that game, the language options are limited to noises, and everyone had to use same "words". So I made friends with Japanese people and a bunch of others in that game. One feature of game made that sad... you can never play with people on your friends list... so it's a one off.
I have made friends with people via forums associated with games. I was in a PlayStation clan, I still sometimes talk to one of them. It splintered once PS4 came out.
mainer: Only indirectly. I only play single player games, or the single player campaign in some games that have multiple modes of play. Maybe it's because I'm an older gamer (69 years old in April this year), as there was no internet, no cell phones, no PCs, no consoles, and no games; outside of board games and whatever your imagination could produce back when I was in grade school through college. There are some, like "Skyrim Shirley", who overcame that barrier. That "barrier" isn't an excuse, but it has definitely been an influence on the types of games I play.
But I have made friends because I was a gamer and we connected because of that. As an example, I have 2 friends, both younger than me by 20+ years, and both married (and one of them with 4 children), while I'm just a single "old-guy". Yet we connected because we were all avid gamers of single player games, especially RPGs. We were able to form a bond through that experience that is still ongoing with frequent emails and sometimes meeting for lunch. Those relationships also have expanded into talking & caring about real life issues in our lives.