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Do we still need to have a cup of tea in their kitchen and meet a member of their family before we can truly call someone a good friend?

Internet buddy. Online acquaintance. Possible axe murderer. How many put-downs can we use to describe people we interact with but have not met.

How is someone you talk to regularly over email, in a yahoo group, in a MMORG (e.g. World of Warcraft) any different from the conversations you have with work mates in a large organisation?

You don’t see them outside work, you don’t know their friends or relatives, you don’t know if they are feeding you a load of bullshit about their home life or telling you the truth. You “feel” whether it has “the ring of truth” usually based on their likeability and you decide whether to believe them, disbelieve them or to ignore it. Some you “click” with and you chat more to them and in time you become friends.

Isn’t that the same online?

Yes I have an axe to grind today. I’m down. I’m upset. I’m worried. One of the long-standing members of my Warcraft guild has left sometime over the past few weeks. Not just left the guild, but deleted her characters from Warcraft including a Level 85 that she’s had since Warcraft first came out as an MMORG seven years ago.  This character had achievements and reputations that just don’t exist in the game anymore. The player was in the game daily up until New Years.  From what I understand, she was mostly housebound through a car accident a while ago and Warcraft stopped her from going stir crazy. It was a social hangout as well as an intellectual stimulant. Although we are on an US server, she lives in our time zone and she and mum would occasionally be up late talking into the night.  She was closer to mum’s age than mine.

This year she hasn’t been on as much and when I’ve asked she’s just said she’s been resting up for the raids (the guild raids once a week).  But she hasn’t even been doing that the last couple of weeks. I looked further last night and couldn’t find her in the guild roster. With some help this morning I learned how to search all characters and that’s how I learned all of her characters (well those I know how to spell) have been deleted.

Did she have a really big fight with the Guild and quit Warcraft after all those years? Or did the person behind the characters get too sick or die?

The Guild hierarchy aren’t saying.  I’ve asked a few of the co-GMs now and been completely ignored. My Guild is not a hard-core group, but I’m not a serious enough player for the core group to bother with. I don’t have a proper gaming set up (I’m using a laptop and it’s trackpad – no mouse). I don’t know all the cool moves and I haven’t been gaming forever so I don’t have prior raiding experience or pre-release dungeon experience. So the core group pretty much ignore mum and me and we just pootle about on our own and we help any lower characters on their way up to 85 when possible, where they surpass us and keep going 🙂

E was different. Because she had done it all, and possibly because she had difficulties now or possibly because it was always her nature, she liked helping out other characters too.  One night she picked up a Level 3 character on her Dragon (yes she had Vial of Sands) and spent 4 hours taking that little character all over the World showing it beautiful vistas and helping it buy all the vendor-purchasable pets.  That character was one of mum’s new ones but E didn’t know that until part way through. She liked showing new players around and showing them the little places. Little groves and outcrops where you just stand and watch the prairie dogs play or the sun go down at a certain place. Things that the developers put into the game but most gamers are too busy to notice.  E showed mum lots of these places one night and they talked and laughed for hours.

They talked together a fair bit after that late last year and early this year but then E stopped coming on, or we’d just miss her.  It wasn’t personal, we aren’t that big an influence and it’s pretty easy to /ignore someone, which is I’m sure what the Guild GMs are doing to me now for asking a question they don’t want to answer.

Either there’s been a bust-up which they don’t want to admit to and most of them would be feeling pretty terrible. Or she’s possibly died and one of her sons has closed her account, which would have the rest of the core group feeling very upset.  Either way they have no interest in talking to an outsider.

Mum’s been worried about E for over a week but only told me last night. I haven’t told mum yet that E the character, and in fact all her characters are gone / deleted.  E the person I have no idea.

Is mum’s worrying about E not friendship?

I finally succumbed and joined WoW last weekend.  The State Library of NSW is hosting a seminar on Online Gaming and Libraries at the end of the month.  This seminar is being held INSIDE WoW!  In Stormwind in the Saurfang realm for those who are interested.

From the FAQ page: Any library worker from any library, anywhere is welcome to participate. You just need to register, and set up a toon. So any librarians who read this and wish to join in, please do so! Does anyone else have issues like these …

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