Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Just found this interesting, and thought you all might, too:

It’s Love at First Kill (Click Link to read the entire article)

Bonny Makarewicz for The New York Times
Pete and Hannah Romero began their courtship as avatars on World of Warcraft, then met up and are now married.
THIS is a love story. It began on a hot summer night in Santa Barbara, Calif., when Tamara Langman helped kill the yellow-eyed demon known as Prince Malchezaar. She was logged into World of Warcraft, the multiplayer fantasy game, and her avatar — Arixi Fizzlebolt, a busty gnome with three blond pigtails — had also managed to pique the interest of John Bentley, a k a Weulfgar McDoal.
Jennifer Silverberg for The New York Times
Tamara Langman and her boyfriend met as avatars.

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A note to the uninitiated: World of Warcraft is a vast online game where monsters are meant to be vanquished, but it is also a social networking experience. When players aren’t battling monsters, their avatars are exploring fantastical landscapes (lush jungles, snowy forests, misty beaches), where they can meet and gab via the game’s instant message feature, or through voice communication software.
And so Ms. Langman and Mr. Bentley found a quiet spot for their avatars to sit. Hours evaporated as they discussed everything from their families to their futures. Sometime before dawn, Ms. Langman realized that while she was in the fictional world of Azeroth, she was also on a date.
For the next two months, Ms. Langman, 27, and Mr. Bentley, 24, rendezvoused in Azeroth, until one day they decided to meet in Santa Barbara instead. When Mr. Bentley stepped onto the tarmac at the Santa Barbara airport on a bright October afternoon in 2008, Ms. Langman ran to him. Mr. Bentley scooped her up into his arms and spun her around.
He had planned to stay for a couple of weeks before returning to Atlanta. But two weeks became two years, and Mr. Bentley and Ms. Langman are still together.
Who knew a World of Warcraft subscription could deliver more romance than Match.com?
Ms. Langman and Mr. Bentley are hardly the only couple to have forged an avatar love connection. Gaming forums are rife with anecdotes from players who are dating and marrying. Some couples have even had their avatars marry. (You can watch videos of the ceremonies on YouTube.)
And while it may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, more people are likely to meet this way as the genre (known as massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs) continues to grow. With more than 12 million subscribers, World of Warcraft is one of the most popular games of its kind in the world (others includeEverQuestAionGuild Wars). That’s a sizable dating pool. Match.com, by way of comparison, has fewer than 2 million subscribers.
“It’s giving people something that they’re missing in the real world,” said Ramona Pringle, an interactive media producer and a professor of new media at the Ryerson School of Image Arts in Toronto. “It is a really primal experience. It’s about survival. It’s about needing someone.”
Ms. Pringle, 29, first observed gamer love connections while working as an interactive producer for the PBS “Frontline” project called “Digital Nation.” At BlizzCon 2009, a gaming convention in California, she was stunned by the number of die-hard gamers holding hands and pushing baby carriages.
She thought about her friends: successful, striking and yet struggling to find love. She herself — willowy with wide green eyes — had just had a breakup with a boyfriend. “What’s going on that these people we consider the fringe, these gamers, are finding love?” she said, nursing a beer at a bar in Austin, Tex., last month during the South by SouthwestInteractive conference. She wanted to see what gaming might teach her about love.
So instead of turning to religion or therapy to mend her heart, Ms. Pringle said, she turned to World of Warcraft.
More than 40 percent of online gamers are women, and adult women are among the industry’s fastest growing demographics, representing 33 percent of the game-playing population — a larger portion than boys 17 and younger, who make up 20 percent, according to the Entertainment Software Association, an industry group.
To help her navigate World of Warcraft, Ms. Pringle enlisted Brent George, the animation director for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game, to be her guide. They began playing last summer — she from Toronto, he from Montreal — as many as six hours a night.
As Ms. Pringle tumbled down the rabbit hole, she found herself directing her avatar — Tristanova, a graceful blue-skinned night elf priest — to run excitedly up to Mr. George’s avatar, Caethis, a heroic-looking warrior. “It’s remarkable to me that you can have a crush on someone’s avatar,” Ms. Pringle said.
But she did. The two have never been romantically involved, yet when Mr. George told her that he would be her knight in shining armor, “I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat,” she said, “even though we hadn’t met in person.”
Multiplayer games encourage such alliances. The beginner’s guide to World of Warcraft notes that you can go it alone, “but by going it alone, you won’t be able to master some of the game’s tougher challenges, you will likely take longer to reach the endgame, and you won’t have access to the game’s most powerful magical treasures.” Ms. Pringle thinks that is analogous to love.

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