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Tuesday · June 29 2004

In a comment yesterday, Stef asked: “Have you ever “met” someone online? You've met other bloggers right?”

I started typing a response in the comment box, but I ended up with an entire post…

I've met a handful of local bloggers, but the in-person meeting was my discovery of their site, not the other way round.

In 1994, when the Web was just beginning to take off and bulletin board services were still popular, I had several email “pen pals.” I never met any of them in real life, but I talked to two of them on the phone. Their phone personas jived with who they said they were in email.

I have a friend named Mark who I met playing the online role playing game, Asheron's Call, back in the day when those games consumed all my time. He lives in Chicago now and is finishing his PhD. He's been to most of the parties I've had at my house and we get together a few times a year. It's an odd way to explain how we met to people. “You met playing a game on the computer?” “Er, yep.”

I've familiar with the personal lives of many people I've met via online gaming, though I have lost touch with all of them except Mark. The gaming “guild” is the primary unit of community. It's quite natural to join a guild if you spend any amount of time playing seriously, as I did. The guild is really just a club organized around some theme, philosophy, or real life group of friends. It's like belonging to a team and makes playing the game more fun since most games have a way to easily chat (by typing) with all members of your guild who are online. Between typing in-game and posting on the guild bulletin board while you're at work or school (much the way this here site you're reading works), people get to know each other and a community grows.

What you had to say:
June 29 2004

I agree with Mojan- I really enjoy the personal writing you do...
1. It keeps me more in tune with you being out here and all
2. You're an EXCELLENT writer in my opinion- and ....
3. I miss my daily layne dose- although i know yours won't be as dramatic- it's still nice to read some personal stuff...

June 30 2004

I would say a good percentage of my friends in real life (in Chicago, mainly) come from meeting them online. I don't know what that says about my social skills, but I like to think it's just coincidence :)

That's great that you've been able to connect with people online (and have been comfortable with it) for so long. I have felt similarly for a long time...and yet what puzzles me is that many people are still stuck in this mode of fear when it comes to meeting people online. Bizarre.

July 01 2004

Lacey, I think if you were to read up on the Layne saga, which is what prompted my question, you might see why people might feel trepidatious (sp?) about it! May I ask if you met your friends through communities such as Jason described or through blogging or through some other method?
(I have never made a "virtual" friend before- that's why I'm so curious about it!)

July 01 2004

I wouldn't trust anyone I met online without voice communication.

I failed to mention that I voice chatted with many other guild members while in-game. We used an application called Roger Wilco which lets multiple user join a chat channel. You communicate with the speakers and microphone hooked up to your PC. Coordianted attacks and strategies rely upon communicating faster than typing, especially if you need to type to play the game.

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz