I would have to go back to the PS2 era in the early 2000s to think back to years without online gaming. As most of you would know by now, I only play on console. While PC gamers were playing online in the late 90s, consoles really only got going with online gaming when the Xbox 360 arrived. The Dreamcast tried, the PS2 had so-so online features and the original Xbox took a huge step forward for console gaming over the internet, but the Xbox 360 did it right. It was the first console in SA to officially support online gaming, hence it was an entry point for many of us. It’s also that particular generation that shaped many of my real life friends I have today.
Up to that point in 2006 my friends were all based off people I met in the real world. Thankfully many of these friends were gamers and I have countless great stories involving game sessions of old, but online gaming really changed things up. The Xbox 360 and Halo 3 in particular formed a huge part of my online friends circle that in later months spilled into the real world where we would all meet up and to this day I’m still friends with many of the players I met. My wife met some of her best friends in Gears of War. Between Halo 3 and Gears of War we were cross-pollinating and ended up with this huge number of real-life friends, many who work in the local games industry today.
I recently sat back and had a look at my friends circle and realised that 95% of my friends are all like-minded people I met online while gaming. It’s in the virtual world where we adventured together or died together. We formed strong bonds and stories that could be told around camp fires. Back in the early 2000s I would never even fathom the thought of meeting most my friends online while gaming, but that’s the reality. These days I play mostly with the SAG members online for our weekly sessions where our friendships grow. Mario Kart 8 was the cause of me meeting more people who I’ve met in the real world and who I consider friends or, at the very least, acquaintances.
Simply said – if I had to drop all my online gaming friends I met, I would probably be the loneliest person on earth. How has online gaming affected your real-world friendships?