Pic of the day: "Time to wish everyone in the game a happy new year" says Konata in the anime Lucky*Star. She seems pretty excited over it, too.
Imaginary friends online
On special days like New Year, Xmas and even Halloween, many online games have special events for the poor losers who don't have anywhere better to be. There is always a bunch of us who regard any public holiday as an opportunity to be online instead of working. Making these people feel good about it is probably a very good investment.
In all fairness, there are genuine friendships that grow in many of these massive online roleplaying games. Sometimes even romance, which sometimes spills over into the fleshworld ("real life" as some people still call it). Of course, the romance is a lot more likely to cross over if everyone involved is the same gender online and offline, which is not always the case. I don't much care either way: Romance would be about as welcome as a data virus, as far as I am concerned.
These days, I am trioing in City of Heroes, that is to say, playing in a team of three. It is possible (for most characters at least) to play alone, so-called "soloing". But it is usually less efficient and less fun than a team. Right now I am trioing. My tanker and two super cute anime girls. Everyone is played by a male player.
(City of Heroes is actually one of the online RPGs where there is a fairly high percentage of female players, although quite a few of them are playing together with a husband or boyfriend. The medieval RPGs like Dark Age of Camelot or World of Warcraft have more male players, strangely enough. Perhaps it is because CoH is easy to play for short periods of time, which makes it easier to get into for people who aren't already dedicated gamers.)
I actually have more female friends in the Sims 2 community. No, Sims 2 is not an online game. What we do are play the game at home, then blog about it. (Ironically, in the next expansion pack it will be possible for the sims to blog about gaming too!) I have a long list of Prosperity neighborhoods that I follow online, and they follow mine. Probably. At least some of the time, because they sometimes comment on it. And the other way around. Even if we don't have anything important to say, we would still comment from time to time so people know that we are there. Imaginary friends online.
Of course, my sims don't act out my life. Quite the opposite in many ways. They fall in love, marry and have babies. They advance in their career. They borrow money, buy houses and pay off the mortgages. By and large they live rather more ordinary lives than I do. These sims are the real friends of my online "friends" in the Sims 2 community. What befalls me is of little interest as long as I am able to keep updating. Likewise I know a lot more about the other people's sims than about the people themselves.
It isn't really any different with the online heroes. Does it matter if the player is male or female? I am unlikely to meet any other players than myself (and I play both sexes, by the way, as well as robots and animals and plants). You get to know the characters really well, but you don't normally get to know the player. Imaginary friends online.
I don't have a problem with this. Quite the opposite. Short-skirted barely legal teen girls who can set bullies on fire are, by and large, more interesting than whether some guy likes anchovies on his pizza. Or at least if you want to know that, you can read their personal blog instead. (Incidentally, I like anchovies in moderation. They must be small though.)
Perhaps my journal would be more interesting if I pretended to be a barely legal teen girl with short skirts. A bit late for that though. In any case, the fact is that most of my online friends are imaginary friends. Of course, some people have that feeling in real life. Honesty might help with that. You would probably have fewer friends, but at least most of them would be real.
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.