Calling on the Old Crowd; Musings on MMO friendships

One of the saddest things about being a long-term MMO player, is the falling apart of communities and guilds when the game is “ending”. And end it does for anybody, at some point. Friendships of many years fade into oblivion, close comrades and brothers in arms disappear as time is taking its toll like it does on all things. Nevermind the promises, the good intentions – the truth is most of us lose their mates and social bonds after leaving the game. The daily guild and ventrilo chats are simply missing. The common purpose is gone. Suddenly, you realize that maybe your lives are different after all or geographical distance prevents finding new channels of interaction. There are emails of course and Skype, but soon you feel oddly out of topics. As the silence grows longer, you are starting to lose heart. Maybe the others have already moved on. Maybe they really don’t look to keep in touch.

This is the story that happens to a majority of MMO players. It’s the story of countless WoW veterans. I’ve always wondered at the strange schizophrenia that is part of online interaction. How it can be different to chat with somebody for years and then actually meeting them in person (not always but often). How fast heart-warming, dramatic proclamations of friendship and fellowship are forgotten once that credit card is no longer on duty. Are MMO players really such an unfaithful lot?

I’ve always been bothered by this systematic. I’ve always wondered about how most people can leave and never look back; especially those that I thought I knew better. I’ve always been a bit vexed that it would be me taking initiatives to counter this development – me reaching out, me writing emails, me letting old mates know what MMOs I am currently playing and on what server I might be found. I’ve done it several times since I quit WoW. A part of this lies in my nature and I have accepted it; it’s why I end up in leading teams, it’s why I am good at organization and communication. I’m not a shy person in real life either and I’m often the maker there too, the one that has to take the first step. Yet – it can be tiring sometimes. Very tiring. Discouraging even. It would be nice to be at the more receiving end every now and then, letting others drive the ship.

…Alas, fuck that. I know for a fact how countless people spend their lives inside their homes, alone by themselves, just sitting there waiting for something good to happen and never reaching out to anybody. It’s particular to our western society methinks, people living side by side rather than together. People being stupid and full of imagined fears  (“I might be rejected, better not try at all!”), choosing isolation when all it takes is a knock on someone else’s door (hell, use SMS if you have to). More often than not, the person on the other side was just as lonely as you. I don’t have time for this – my life is too short to be spent waiting! So, I’ll do this if I have to. I’d do it for you too.

A while back Liore wrote about her progress on gaining leadership zen and how her WoW guild is still keeping in touch on forums while people are occupied with different games. By the looks, they managed to survive the post-WoW era untarnished and chances are high they will meet again here and there in new worlds, taking up arms together once more. I can only express my complete and utter envy for this situation! There is no forum anymore that gets frequented by the people I used to call guildmate, co-healer or fellow officer. In fact, there’s not even a webpage where ours used to be. And before you raise your eye-brow at my strange sentimentality: I know not all online bonds are meant to last. I know many players are maybe more carefree and frivolous about their MMO relationships. But I have spent most of my 6 years of WoW among the exact same few people, maybe eight in total. Until the very end I raided side by side with friends I knew since vanilla WoW or early TBC, some of which had followed me around. If that’s no basis for lasting contact through an MMO, what is?

Calling on the old crowd – Today

The funny thing is, that same day I read Liore’s article feeling rather gloomy, an email popped into my mailbox. A cheer-up note from my good old friend and guild-mate Grumpy (who used to co-author on this blog), my trusted WoW tank of many years. He is one of maybe three people I still keep regular contact with of my old guild. One of a precious few who actually cared not to let everything die; I am very happy to know he is out there. We send each other wonderful WoTs every few weeks and keep up-to-date on what’s happening in our lives, real and virtual. We haven’t played the same MMOs for a while, we both played Skyrim on Steam though and now that Guild Wars 2 is on the horizon, I am very excited we’ll be joining the same server, possibly with a few more folk. Moreover, another ex-guildie has contacted me since, asking about what the general plans are for GW2 and where to head to (what do we actually know about the servers at this point – anyone?).

And I wonder, like so many currently do, if Guild Wars 2 might be that game; that raising star, that upcoming MMO title that will sweep us off our feet once more. That MMO big enough to unite friends and guildmates of old – to reforge fragile bonds and create new memories. To finally put an end to the homesickness. It is a big opportunity none can deny, a big promise thanks to such wide appeal. An opportunity we should make use of to call on the old crowd! And so, I ask you –

Today, take heart and reach out to some old online friend or guildmate. Today, choose to be the one who takes initiative, never mind how long it’s been quiet. If there’s anybody at all that you haven’t heard from in ages and think back to fondly every now and then, nostalgic for good times shared, grab your keyboard (or phone, or pen) and contact them! To say hello, to ask “how do you do?”, to maybe arrange meeting up in another game or upcoming MMO.

If you want your online friendships to mean something, put in as much effort as you wish others put in – and maybe sometimes a little more. If you want close bonds to last, reach out and break the silence!

Break the silence.


  1. Breaking the silence Syl. 🙂
    Though we actually do toss each other letters once in a while.
    It would be lovely to hear your cheerful voice again but I’m afraid I’m not into gaming at the moment. But well… we could always come on skype or some server anyway some night anyway. I’m still here! (When I’m not in a theatre, that will say.)

    1. Jessica! what a lovely surprise! and indeed, it’s been a while, too long (I do follow you on the café though). 🙂
      you know it matters not to me if people are still gaming or not. it would be great to have a chat on skype, maybe we can even get a few more people on sometime. taking the rest to email from here!

  2. I am not one to keep out of date relationships going. As an introvert, I prefer having a small group of very close friends, rather than a large group of loosely connected acquaintances. If someone leaves my small circle, I do not keep in contact. However, that does not mean that I no longer like the person. If for some reason they find their way back, then I’m quite happy to see them again.

    1. It’s nice if things work out for you that way and you don’t end up sitting alone some day. my experience is that often introverts especially suffer from loneliness and their own inability to reach out.

      I think many people, not just MMO players of course but in a wider sense, are reluctant to talk about this issue – nobody wants to admit that they feel alone sometime or that they are. everyone wants to be seen as a person with friends, because only then you are worthy to be made friends with. it’s sad that our society works this way (it’s also a cultural thing depending on where you are).

      my point is therefore, to break out of this routine – don’t ask why others don’t write, if you could be the one writing. don’t feel sad for old contacts if you aren’t putting in any effort yourself. you don’t ‘have to’ do this, but if the above things apply to you, then it’s the way to go.

      and there’s a part of me that simply still likes to believe that MMO friendships (not to be mistaken for ‘acquaintances’, but the closer bonds) can be more than common ventures. maybe that too, depends on how much we put in though. whether I have good RL friends besides that or not is not of consequence in this context.

    2. Syl, I think you may be confusing introversion with shyness or lack of social skills. Some of us just don’t want a lot of friends and actually look forward to being alone. It’s not sad or lonely and there’s nothing wrong with it if you’re wired this way.

      There’s a huge cultural bias that says being social is fun and that having a lot of friends is fulfilling. This may be true for extraverts but it’s a harmful message for introverts.

    3. Thanks for the clarification; I do believe my own interpretation of the term was somewhat off there, it gets used in so many contexts these days. I am a more solitary person myself and enjoy independence, which is why I value the few good friends I have even more (I need my regular spaces though). but I never thought of myself as an introvert….that’s interesting. maybe I’ve been called an extrovert by mistake all my life (by people equally uninformed about these terms)? something to think over.

  3. If people stop doing things with me or communicating with me because something is more important I just find other acquaintances that want to do what I want to do. The few real friends I have in game I maintain contact with regardless of what we do. The key for me is real friends make the effort to stay in touch and if I make effort and they don’t I move on. I think a lot of people confuse fun acquaintances with friends. I dont’ ever “find” my way back to people that had no willingness to stay in contact. life is too short to back up and look for what’s already lost.

    1. “I dont’ ever “find” my way back to people that had no willingness to stay in contact.”

      It’s usually how I handle it myself, I’m not somebody running after others who clearly have no wish to stay in touch. I don’t advocate it either. like you say, life is too short.

      however, I’ve also made the frequent experience that silence isn’t nearly always a sign of disinterest. It baffles me each time to find somebody suffer from isolation, when they’re not reaching out themselves. they love to hear from you, they miss the old times – but they can’t get themselves to put in some effort. I don’t what it is, apathy or lazyness or more serious issues, but it’s a shame it should be this way. so here, I encourage people to be more vocal and not dismiss old friendships just because the game is over. it’s possible to make real friends online, but friendship is the fruit of “work” too. asking it to just naturally “be there” is too easy. it needs to go both ways – which I believe we both agree on, anyway.

  4. Agreed Sam, there is a difference between people that you spend a lot of time with because your circumstances have put you together for a common cause, and true friends.

    I completely agree that true friends will keep in contact, no matter what the circumstances. They are rare, and should be cherished.

  5. Hey Syl

    Remember me ? 🙂
    Seems appropriate I should comment on this post

    I still follow your blog, and every now and again I think about some of the old crowd, including amongst others Grumpy and Stumpy

    Actually, after I left our wow guild, I moved back to my old server, and joined a guild with a load of people I was guilded with back in my vanilla/tbc days, and raided casually with them for a while before I stopped playing* – it was great to hear the familar voices again….

    *if you can call it stopping playing, I still pop on occasionally

    If there’s a gang from the old team getting together in another game (GW2 included) please let me know, there’s a good chance I try most MMOs out, and I’d love to be on the same faction/server etc 🙂

    PS: In case you’re reading this, /wave to Jessica too…I’m not a big movie fan, but I still check the Cafe every now and again 🙂

    1. Lerbic! how awesome to find another familiar face here! =)
      glad to hear from you and that you’ve been lurking in the shadows, even if quietly. it’s been such a long time.

      I will absolutely do my best to gather the few people who are still around in GW2; I know Burns, Grumpy and Stumps will be there and most likely Kashim – and whoever each brings along. I’m happy to drop you a note as soon as we actually know about the English servers.
      I don’t believe I have your email though – why don’t you send me a quick email (via contact tab) so I can store it for later?

      Have a good weekend!

      p.s. No factions 🙂

    2. “why don’t you send me a quick email (via contact tab) so I can store it for later?”

      Done 🙂

      I might be able to bring BigDeu with me too !!

  6. technically, the old forum still exists, it just moved to another url (, but I do not expect many (or even any) people checking it.

    Alternatively it’s might be possible to knock to Adrenaline’s new website (, though I didn’t try it myself: I moved on and do not plan to return to any mmorpg, or actually spend a lot of time playing any computer game. My life is too short. Chatting do not require gaming.

    (obviously, this post is my way to say ‘hi’)

    1. Yeah I know, only that forum and my “old forum” do not really have much in common anymore. 🙂

      I understand your choice, I guess it always depends on how we handle gaming – as a hobby or something more. most of us would probably agree that WoW was our most intense gaming time though. I play more different games these days but much shorter sessions. I will always find time for gaming though, it’s too important to my life! exactly because it’s short I want to spend my time on what I enjoy the most.

      And /hi back!

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