In Short: Enlightening and Fun.
I thoroughly enjoy when someone asks how I met my husband. I can generally predict how the discussion will go. Once I share that we met online, the typical questions come in about which dating site we used.
But I didn’t meet my husband on a dating site. We met in an online game.
Specifically, we met playing EverQuest. EverQuest is a game known as an MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. It launched in 1999, and at its height it had over half a million active players.
If you’ve never played an online multi-player game, it’s an experience. You are dropped into a virtual world and left to interact with the environment and creatures. It’s an immersive experience. The world has its own economy, with people buying and selling both goods and services. You can find someone to sell you food, or to help transport you halfway across the continent. These games can be played largely alone (known as soloing), but the idea behind a multi-player game is to interact with the people around you. The process creates the usual contingent of casual acquaintances and close friends. And occasionally, it creates long term relationships.
You can get to know someone in an online game extremely well. You see them when they are bored, excited, and stressed. You travel together across this virtual world, and your trips are often interrupted by random interactions with both players and creatures from the game. They are frequently hostile interactions, and you find out how well your group of friends works together. You plan excursions into caverns to track down more powerful creatures, giving you a chance to see how you do when you are both stressed. These encounters often end in death, and you deal together with frustration when one or all of you die, and coordinate to get all your stuff back that was left behind. Because the game has quite a bit of downtime, you have all sorts of discussions.
By the time I met my husband in person, I knew about his job, his family, and his interests. We had discussed relationship history and general life philosophy. We already had something in common because we spent our leisure time playing the same game. We literally spent hours together in a virtual world interacting with one another and others around us. I probably knew him better than many of my friends that I had met in real life. He wasn’t the first person from this world that I’d met in person, though he was the first romantic interest.
Of course, eventually we had to meet to find out if we were compatible in person. Our first meeting was a resounding success, and we started dating shortly thereafter. As it turned out, real life was much less exciting than our virtual world, and we spent a lot less time fighting hostile creatures. But we also discovered we were the same people in person that we were online, and that we were equally good at working together. We dated for 5 years, and have been married for 13. And we still play multi-player games together online.
Nikki Koon has been a software developer for 15+ years. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her family and enjoys playing computer games and crocheting in her spare time.
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