I unfriended that username and never saw them again. Definitely fun while it lasted.
I ended up meeting many people from networked rpgs over the years, including some actual women, and formed several life long friendships.
I knew them exclusively online, a few I've met in person a few times, others we've only ever interacted online for the better part of 20 years.
As the world gets smaller, I think this kind of thing will become more common. I think the borders were smaller 20-30 years ago online, and now there is a bit of nationalism/tribalism separating folks, in part because so much of online interaction is now a "service" and not just a newsgroup, special or general interest forum, or IRC.
I think if some of the decentralized systems become more usable/popular we might start to see these adhoc communities form and disappear more organically online, but probably not.
I've tried to go back, to EQ or other MMOs, and they're much harder to get a group of friends from now. You used to see the same people in your server, sometimes meeting them multiple times as you leveled through the game. They became known to you and even friends. The changes to make the game more open to solo players and with more instancing you just don't run into the same people more than once anymore.
The COVID lockdown definitely made me think more about the sense of community and belonging we developed with those games/guilds. Somehow in-person interaction seemed harder when you are a teenager. The limited sensory experience of typing and using mouse inputs versus even speaking seems to have made it less threatening or inhibiting. Maybe that’s why I don’t actually feel as trapped as many people have reported feeling.
I grew up on the 90s internet, MUDs, MOOs, IRC, etc. Anything where I could have real time text based conversations with people.
I was also privileged with an easy way to travel and parents who did not really monitor what I was up to. I went all over the US meeting people I met online.
I met the person who eventfully became my wife on a MUD. She lived on the east coast and I was in the Midwest. Without this network we'd have never met. We've been together for 24 years now.
It was a cool group of devs. There was one person in particular, Andy Finkenstadt, who patiently taught me a great deal. Oh yes, and Bryan Cool had the coolest name of all. (He was also a master graphics programmer.)
I met my wife while working there (she lived down the street, and we somehow discovered that fact from a random AOL conversation) so in a roundabout way I fell in love via the GemStone ecosystem, I suppose.
It is why I learned software engineering.
I've gone back and created characters a few times, but I've never really hung around long enough to develop relationships or any desire to advance in the game. Guess I'm addicted to real life now :)
Very fond memories of those games.
And everyone else who doesn't think any more of it than controlling a character they created.
There are a lot of people that have a hard time understanding that. I distinctly remember being on a committee with much older computer scientists and mathmeticians who were "exploring" the concept of using Second Life - instead of just doing it like everyone else - and their primary hangup and fear was that people could use avatars that weren't their same sex or look like them. A complete red herring to the utility of the platform.
It's like they completely missed that everyone had already played fighting games where you have to beat the game with every character to unlock things. That there was a whole population that wasn't making a statement whatsoever.
I was a teenager and could see that their was this foreign language TV show where women would occasionally get topless.
I had no idea what was actually going on, or what the goal of the show was.
I have absolutely no clue even when it was in "MY" Language.
>where women would occasionally get topless.
But i knew that was my goal of watching it :)
It's one good thing I can say about online games, whatever that is.