TL;DR DON’T DO IT!!!
I’ve played WoW with RL friends. Hell, one of them got me to start playing WoW in the first place. However… I can’t say that it ever worked out. I’ve had relationships in-game turn into out-of-game, but the reverse doesn’t work for me.
Different In-Game Priorities
I’m a raider who likes to raid. RAID RAID RAID. My RL friends may not have the same style as me. They may want to wander off and do achievements. Ugh. Yech. And in order to play with them, which I want to do and, let’s be honest, feel obligated to do, I have to do what THEY want, or they have to do what I want. And I don’t want to say “NO I HAET THAT” which leads to…
Don’t Want To Eff Up The RL Friendship
You can probably tell a guildmate (nicely) that he or she is doing something totally wrong. You can bench a guildmate from raiding for performance issues. You can have a lengthy disagreement with a guild officer about a guild policy. You can’t do that with a RL friend without it being at least a little awkward. And then your friend is glaring at you. Or you keep it to yourself and feel a bit resentful that you have to deal with OMG THAT EFFIN NOOB all the time. Or your friend yells at you to get out of the effin fire and you FUME about it.
There’s something to be said for leaving RL frustrations behind when you turn on the computer, and leaving computer frustrations behind when you turn it OFF. I can’t fully escape from work if I’m meeting my coworkers for happy hour all the time.
Game First Then Become Friends IRL
Now, I’ve found the reverse way (in-game friends first) works pretty well. When you join a guild, you find like-minded people to hang out with. They already have your priorities, isn’t that convenient (or you wouldn’t have joined THAT guild). Maybe you hit it off for realsies, and maybe you don’t. But in my experience, I’m far more likely to find someone in my guild that roughly aligns with my RL style and priorities than to discover that one of my RL friends plays the game – and plays it in a way very similar to me.
And now, you guys, I want to hear about your experiences with commingling RL and in-game friends and worlds.