The Lighter Side of MMOs

by Tyler Edwards, March 19, 2012

Recently, we did an article on some of the more shocking and horrible incidents related to MMOs. But it's not all bad news out there. There are some extreme stories of addiction and obsession, but MMO players are as diverse as any other group of people; for every horror story, there's a story of friendship, love, or maybe even heroism to come out of our virtual worlds. So sit back and be inspired by some of the lighter tales to come out of the MMO community.

facebook suicide

4: Players talked down from thoughts of suicide:

We've all heard horror stories of MMO players dying during freakishly long gaming sessions or neglecting real world responsibilities because of their obsession with a virtual world. But MMOs can have a positive effect on people as well. Guilds and online friends provide a support system that can help people cope during difficult times.

There are many stories of depressed or suicidal players receiving crucial support from other gamers. Game developers have also been known to take action themselves to ensure the safety of their players. Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of World of Warcraft, has been known to alert local police if told of a player contemplating harming themselves.

Even for people who aren't suicidal, online friends can provide much needed sources of comfort, advice, and support. Sometimes we all need a shoulder to cry on, even if that shoulder is computer generated and covered with epic armor.

This doesn't mean that MMOs prevent suicide (in the same way that those horror stories don't mean that MMOs make people neglect their families). The lesson here is that MMOs are just a medium for people to connect. Whether they're used for good or ill is entirely up to their players. Those with mental issues may become addicted and suffer terrible consequences, but healthier individuals will help their friends when they're in need, as will all good-hearted people.

rift wedding

3: MMO couples:

You probably know a couple that has a great story about how they met and fell in love. You might even be a member of one yourself. Whether the story is funny, romantic, bizarre, or all three - it touches and entertains all who hear it.

Odds are, though, that these stories don't involve donning plate armor and slaying a mighty dragon before looting its corpse for some phat lewtz. Then again, if you're enough of an MMO fan to be reading this, you just might. Stories of people falling in love via online games, once a rarity, are becoming ever more common, with some couples even going so far as to hold their weddings in their favorite virtual world.

It's a testament to the human desire to connect and bond that relationships can form even in pixilated fantasy worlds. It may seem bizarre to find love whilst battling Orcs and Elves, but when you think about it, there are worse ways to meet someone.

Compare it to a more common way of finding love online: dating sites. The only data you see is a profile cobbled together by someone trying to make themselves look as good as possible. Alternatively, you can rely on a match coldly assigned to you by some arcane piece of software.

A game, though, is a more relaxed and perhaps more natural environment. The people you meet in an MMO probably didn't start playing just to find a significant other, so the odds of them sugar-coating their personality are much lower. If you're in the same guild and you spend time raiding together, you'll likely be able to see them at their worst as well as their best.

You'll also know that you share an interest, something that can help keep you together over the long haul. There have been studies that show that the couple that games together, stays together.

Of course, there's no substitute for actually meeting someone face-to-face, but there are worse places to find love than an MMO. As the genre grows in popularity, we're sure more couples will come out of online games. And as for the honeymoon? We hear Telara is lovely this time of year.

boy saves sister from moose

2: Boy saves sister from moose using World of Warcraft tactics:

In 2007, twelve year-old Norwegian boy Hans Yorgen Olsen was walking through the woods near his home with his young sister. While walking, the children encountered a massive moose, which became enraged and attempted to attack them.

An adult moose weighs hundreds of pounds and can boast massive antlers. Most of us would probably freeze in the face of such terrible animal power, or at best run screaming in terror. Not Hans, though. He was made of sterner stuff.

And luckily for him and his sister, this brave young boy was a World of Warcraft player.

Thinking quickly, Hans immediately began shouting at the moose, taunting it away from his sister in imitation of tactics used by tank characters in WoW. With the beast now barreling toward him, Hans again drew inspiration from the ultra-popular MMO. He dropped to the ground and remained motionless, feigning death just as the hunter class does to evade enemies in Warcraft.

The trick worked. The moose took him for dead and moved off, leaving both Hans and his sister unharmed. Aside from being a great tale of courage and quick thinking, the whole incident rather flies in the face of those who claim that video games are a bad influence on children.

die safe

1: Blind veteran raids with the help of his friends:

In February of 2007, British soldier Ben Shaw was on patrol in the Iraqi city of Basra when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, blowing shrapnel into Ben's face. His eyes were damaged beyond repair and had to be surgically removed, leaving him completely blind.

A lot of people might feel like giving up on life after such a traumatic event. But Ben is not the sort to quit. He was determined not to let the loss of his sight keep him from living the life he wanted to live and doing the things he loved, no matter how impossible it might seem to ordinary people.

One such pastime Ben was unwilling to quit was playing World of Warcraft. And Ben didn't want to just dip his toes into the game, either. He wanted to have the full WoW experience and raid with the best of them.

WoW raiding guilds can have notoriously strict entrance requirements, and it seems impossible to imagine one open minded enough to accept a raider with no eyes, but < Die Safe > of the EU server Chamber of Aspects was one such guild, and they readily accepted Ben's shaman into their ranks.

Initially, Ben struggled as one might expect. A raid is a hectic and challenging environment even for those of us who can see. Many members of the guild attempted to serve as Ben's eyes, but it was a challenge, and he was only able to raid when the guild felt up to the extra effort of helping him along.

This all changed with the arrival of Owen. Owen took on the role of being Ben's "seeing eye dog" in the game. Using a combination of clever macros, the game's follow function, and voice commands, Owen guides Ben on where to go and what to do. Some might view such a task as onerous, but Owen has never complained, and indeed, he says he feels it's a privilege to raid alongside someone as committed as Ben.

And don't think that the guild is simply carrying Ben through easy content out of pity. Not only has Ben killed Deathwing - WoW's current end boss - on normal mode and moved on to heroic raiding, he's done so as one of the guild's better DPS players.

It goes without saying that this is an amazing story and a true source of inspiration. In a game where the community is too often consumed by elitism and the slightest failure to perform results in vicious personal attacks, < Die Safe > has shown what is possible when open minds and kind hearts win through.

We here at WhatMMORPG would like to take this opportunity to salute Ben for his determination, Owen for his patience and compassion, and the entirety of for the effort they have made toward enabling this incredible partnership to work. This is a true example of the power of friendships formed in online games.