In the early days of online gaming, people tended to trust one another. We visited each other not as strangers so much as acquaintances willing to be friends. We were excited to be on the interface of something breathtakingly new, a gateway that eliminated physical distance between people.
Those days, we played over long-distance phone lines. And we paid by the minute. The people you met in online games in the mid 1990s spent hundreds of dollars a month to be there. I remember sitting up at 2:AM talking to an architect in Belgium about raising kids (he had six.) I especially remember the evening many of us spent with a woman D.E.A Agent who had that day shot and killed a man. She logged online, understandably upset. But she felt comforted by talking to us quasi-but-friendly strangers. One evening, I returned to my home in Colorado to find two unexpected guests, an independently wealthy lady from Florida and a businessman from California. They were vacationing by traveling cross country, separately, and had independently dropped in for a visit. I was delighted.
That general feeling of trust was founded in self-confidence. And when prudent, it was confirmed. When I wanted to meet a woman in another state, she had three people from the game – who were local to me – invite me out to lunch. Only by the grace of their report was I then permitted to visit her. I sent her my photo and requested one of her but herself only replied, “You won’t be disappointed.” I wasn’t. We are still together but that was 26 years ago and a different story.
One insight into online gaming relationships was revealed to me by a woman about to “get married online.” (I had made an avatar that was a monk who performed Wiccan hand fastings. Heretical, I know, but hey, it was a game.) In real life, she traveled around the country selling instruments to music stores. He was an extremely shy acoustical engineer. She was vivacious. He was geek personified. She explained to me, “Here, you get to know the real person before you see them. You don’t judge on anything else.” She and her shy engineer eventually did marry and live together until she died of Lupis. Something he knew about from the beginning.
Those were the days, my friend. But that’s retro. Today, we meet on WordPress. And the future, well, the future is the metaverse. See you there soon.