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.

Separate Realms

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.


Playing the Game with Your RL Friends — 20 Comments

  1. Is this meant to be satire?

    I’ve played with RL friends before and it’s been fine, in part because we already had a good, working (COMMUNICATIVE) relationship beforehand. The type of relationship you’re describing makes me wonder if you were playing with RL “friends” or RL “acquantances”.

    • It’s very hard in-game to “not take it personally” when a RL friend gives a critique, because your friendship IS personal. Hell I would perceive a critique from a RL friend differently than one from a random guildmate.

  2. As a relative noob to the game, the only experience I have had with this is watching my spouse play the game and playing the game with him as well. I believe playing the game with RL friends does lead to tension in RL, my spouse plays with a co-worker and as a result of a particularly nasty guild defection incident, RL work relations were strained. Which I thought was incredibly stupid at the time because let’s not forget here, game = playtime, work = mortgage + other responsibilities. Both parties failed to leave the game frustrations in the game.

    That being said, I have also witness in-game friendships sour RL relationships and again, it’s all about forgetting your place mentally. Pressure from within game friendships to prioritize raid over RL commitments and vice versa is rampant. I also believe that with Facebook, twitter and gchat, the lines between in-game friend and RL friend become blurred very easily.

  3. It’s never really worked out for me either.

    My BF and I played for awhile with some of his RL friends…some of the nicest people and the worst players I’ve EVER met. As in, there was an enhancement shaman who spent most of his time at range and had strength, agility, and spirit gems all in the same gearset (in Wrath). But they got such a huge kick just out of being in a raid together (there were nearly enough of us for a 10-man group) and being in ICC that they didn’t really care if nothing died. And nothing did. They were tons of fun to spend time with though!

    And then there was the time I server-hopped my tankadin to help out a raid group being led by a good friend’s GF. I think that experience spawned the term “ticking drama bomb.” And I met a mage who thought there was a SP cap. Spellpower is like cheese! You can never have enough! You don’t hear people talking about a cheese cap, do you?

    Oh man. I could go on, but this is long enough already!

  4. Mostly works. Mostly everyone needs to be on the same level.

    Works even better if you can communicate with friends. Even if you have different goals about how to play the game. A true friend will understand if you want to do different activities (in game or out). If you’re open and honest about it, they will understand.

    Trying to be coy or whatever, that’s what messes things up.

    • I definitely am more… matter-of-fact honest with online friends and they expect it and don’t get offended. For example, if we run a group and I tell you to do XYZ differently, you’ll be like… ok. No big deal. It’s different with a RL friend. It’s basically akin to saying “Yes, those jeans do make you look fat.” Sure, there are some friends you can say that to, but there are a lot who would be offended.

  5. You’re totally right in that it’s SUPER important to very clearly define the game and RL relationships. My best friend and I both played in Wrath, and it was fine, except he has very little patience for wiping. So when I started raiding, he was curious and wanted to try it, but I KNEW he would get annoyed and bored after the first few wipes on Marrowgar or Deathwhisper or whatever. And he came along once, with the absolute promise that he would NOT just drop group and leave if he got tired of wiping, because it’d be screwing over the rest of the group. He stayed, he got some loot, and then agreed after that raiding probably isn’t for him.

    But if he and I hadn’t so clearly gone over this beforehand, he absolutely would have just left after a few wipes, which would have been a very sour experience for me since my guildies would have been all “uh, WTF?”

    • Yeah, it is really stressful to run interference when your RL friends and Online friends are meeting. I kinda cringe a little for the sake of both sides.

  6. I got burned by playing with family. A major problem can be that if you have a position of authority in your guild, your friends/family might think that this gives them carte blanche to act however they want.

    Communication beforehand is certainly very key, but I was burned to the point where I would never ask anyone I knew from real life to join me in game ever again – unless it were some other server and a very alty thing. Not my guild though. Never again.

  7. It’s about commonality. We look for guilds that share our interests and focusses within the game, don’t we? Whether that be raiding, RP, achievement hunting, casual levelling, whatever. It’s natural to want to play with people who have the same expectations and wants from the game as we have.

    Just because we like our RL friends in, ahem, RL doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have anything in common in the game. The best way, I would imagine, to screw up a RL friendship is to play together online with differing goals; the frustration, resentment and issues with fire (and getting out of the same) are likely to impact on RL stuffs.

    I’ve had friends wanting to try WoW out, either out of curiosity or because their partner plays or whatever, and I’ve always been up front about my anti-socialness in game. It’s my escape from RL, so I’d like RL to kindly GO AWAY whilst I’m in Azeroth. I’ve given server names, a character name and a few gold and bags, on occasion, but have been clear that I’m a grumpy old cow who won’t be hand holding. Feel free to say ‘hi’ but don’t expect that I’ll level a character with you, boost you through instances or spend my game time playing with you. It sounds harsh and rude, but clarity upfront is the better way, in my ‘umble opinion, anyway.

  8. My experience has been similar to yours really. I remember when my ex finally offered to try out WoW, I was so excited… but it turned out to be a disaster. Since he offered to try it for me, I assumed that we were going to play together, but he constantly levelled on his own when I wasn’t around and I spent ages just trying to catch up. And when we finally did play together, it was just annoying as he was extremely flippant about everything in the game and hated interacting with my in-game friends. I was almost glad when he stopped playing again because he was just giving me headaches.

    Now my current boyfriend, the one I moved to another country for, he was someone I met in WoW first…

  9. I’m in a small but successful guild of RL friends, and we’ve managed to keep things pleasant with lots of cooperation and communication. We raid casually (once a week) with our eight (!) raiders, and although raiding has spawned a few bits of inter-member drama we’ve been able to deal with it without it souring the RL relationships. I think it also helps that we’re all close to the same skill and commitment level. I can certainly see how there could be a problem if there’s a wide disparity there. I’ve never played EXCEPT with RL friends or friends-of-RL-friends, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun way to experience the game. Just different situations, I guess.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen a group of 5 RL friends end up splintering into different guilds because they wanted to level at a different pace… the ones who were far ahead were impatient with the others. The ones left behind were peeved that the ones ahead did not wait for them.

  10. I have friends who play WoW and family who play WoW, but I seldom play “with” them for more than helping them out now and then. Most of them are on separate realms to me these days and we stay in contact through Real ID – which works out nicely for all of us I think.

    None of my friends are local though, and because we don’t raid together there’s no tension. The one friend I raid with I had actually lost contact with a few years prior, and then “found” again in WoW – and I do actually raid with her once a week on my alt Paladin, helping her guild out.

    So for me WoW works with friends, but I do think it’s because I don’t work with them and for the majority don’t play with them. And as I said, none of them are local so our biggest contact is through WoW in the first place these days :)

  11. I play with my husband, but that’s different. We also raid with my brother, we make him off-tank. It’s an interesting dynamic and I like it a lot. I have…. lots… of siblings, none of whom live near me, and my husband has siblings too. The Wow-playing brother is the only one I talk to on a regular basis. He comes to visit, we do stuff – Wow has given us a connection that isn’t there with other family.

    Otherwise, nope, never played with friends. It can cause drama. I have an RL local friend now that I met in raid and sometimes balancing friendship and raid leading gets tricky.

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  13. My RL friend introduced me to WoW, and then Hubby and hubby’s friend played as well. We all played together. We joined guilds together. We had a MEGA awkward moment when the guild leader gkicked hubbys friend for not being a good player. We decided to stay, it didn’t affect our friendship with our friend, but boy was it an awkward moment. I am still in the same guild now and the guild leader has changed and our friend came back (I think it was a personality issue). So that’s one real doozy of a moment.

    But my friend who played, did something awkward to me and with her being a RL friend made it really difficult. She had rejoined the guild after having left with her bf to make their own guild and then that didn’t work out and she came back and rejoined our guild. I know that they like to do their own thing and since she’s my friend, that’s ok, but from a guild perspective that doesn’t go down well. For example – her bf left the guild after not being able to make our play times and then was sat out of raid when he could make it one day. It LOOKED like he got emo and gquit for not getting into raid. But she stayed. And he told me to take her to raids so she didn’t feel left out. She’s my friend, so I did. We had other guildies who coudl go, but I took her. We took her on our multiple attempts to kill Nefarian in BWD, and when we finally got it after a week or 2 or trying, she got the mace and the achievement. The next day she said she wanted to leave the guild. I was like… OMG WTF! I could understand as her friend, she felt lonely without her BF, but from a guild perspective (and officer’s point of view), it looked terrible. The amount of stress I had from that event…

    So much easier to yell at guildies who aren’t your RL friends.

  14. I posted earlier and my comment was deleted. Not sure why but here it goes again.

    There’s no problem with playing with RL friends, as long as you aren’t impatient and know how to work with them. Having the same goals helps too. If you help them learn from their mistakes instead of chastising them when they mess up, playing with RL friends can be tons of fun. If you can’t get along with your RL friends on WoW, how are you going to get along with strangers? You have to make a bit of effort.

    If you have different in-game goals – of course it makes sense to go do your own thing. You don’t always have to be playing side by side. I think the problem you are describing comes from trying to coerce someone to participate in something they aren’t interested in.

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