They have ‘massive’ right in their name and that isn’t by any chance. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) have come out of the bowels of the Internet in the late 90s and early 2000s, promising to forever re-shape how we communicate online, or at least in games.
True, we all had to live with the stereotype back then whereby society would perceive us as no-goods and wastrels, spending the majority of our waking lives playing, but today MMORPGs are very much en vogue. With the arrival of Lineage in 1998, RuneScape in 2001, and World of Warcraft in 2004, online gaming was given purpose.
Eve Online broke into the digital space a year before Blizzard’s blockbuster in 2003 and made it possible for millions of people to connect. Today, we take a look at what your chances of finding friendship – or even love – in MMORPGs are.
Lineage: A Different Mindset Altogether
A medieval epic fantasy set in a universe populated by humanoids, Lineage is not a story of ethnicity or belonging. It’s just like the world itself. You pick your character and forge alliances with the sole goal of controlling rich lands and collect the harvest every cycle.
Toppling epic bosses and growing your character’s strength is the modus operandi of any MMORPG out there and that’s no different for Lineage. The game released back in 1998 and has been one of the defining experiences of the online gaming industry. Yet, falling player numbers mean that you have fewer and fewer chances to find meaningful friendships and especially your soul mate.
Make Love, Not Warcraft
To anyone even vaguely familiar with World of Warcraft – the world’s most popular MMO by a large margin, the phrase is both familiar and perhaps even amusing. World of Warcraft is certainly no joke when it comes to sheer numbers. In 2010, the game peaked at 12 million subscribers, prompting Blizzard to spread the good news.
Things looked good for people in search of their soul mate, but over the next decade, WoW would see its numbers steadily decline to around 5 million people. Interestingly enough, the 12-million popularity lasted until around 2014, when the game started shedding players by the hundreds of thousands. WoW Classic – known as Vanilla – re-released again in 2019, giving the game a fresh élan.
How does this translate to your chance of finding your perfect someone? Well, in the United States alone, the broad demographic of people has around 20% chance of finding a romantic partner for men and 13% for women, suggesting women as perhaps slightly pickier. Yet, women have also been getting better education, making it more difficult for them to find a suitable partner.
Find That Special Someone in an MMO Isn’t Difficult or Is It?
Now, in pure numbers, finding your special someone doesn’t seem too complicated. In the U.S. alone, there are around 210 million gamers. Of them, around 40% play MMOs, mostly the people in the age groups between 18 and 39. That number is roughly the same as the number of people signing up for online dating, estimated at around 38 million presently.
In fact, having a closer look at the odds, it seems like you have an average of 13% chance of meeting your perfect partner online. This is not too shabby at all. Yet, we also ought to ask ourselves – what are the real challenges that lie ahead for us finding a partner?
Make Believe vs. the Real Thing
With the odds looking good, we now need to take a look at the nature of video gaming. Male gamers continue to be the predominant part of MMORPG players specifically. While mobile gamers are split nearly 50-50 between male and female, the world of massive multiplayer games is dominated by young men.
This is not at all surprising. To make things even worse, those scarce few female players are often pair-bonded with another player already and they infallibly fulfil the role of the ‘healer’ class as their partner educates them about the game.
All joking aside, the number of female players in MMOs has risen, but that’s precisely because of the insistence of their soul mates. Even in markets where MMORPGs seem to be very popular – such as Finland – the share of players that are female is 3% of the total gamer population, whereas men stand for 14% of that number. Still, a rather disparate number all things considered.
In other words, love remains as elusive as it has ever been online. Yet, there is an upside.
Friendships That Last
While we all struggle with finding love – whether it’s online or offline, MMORPGs may prove a conduit for something much more easily achievable – friendships. Building relationships with others – that are outside the romantic – has always proven easier.
In most cases, all you need is a common goal, such as toppling a ‘boss’ in a video game. Opening up to strangers is naturally far easier, especially if they know very little about you. Gaming has often been cited as a ‘waste of time,’ but that could not have been farther from the truth.
To a whole lot of people, at one point or another, gaming has helped them push through a difficult situation and get on with their lives. Finding love online and in an MMORPG will perhaps always be a pursuit for a few romantic souls out there.
So, it is for all of us who are ‘in the real world’ and try to meet that special someone with whom to build our mutual futures. Realistically, friendships are the more likely by-product of MMORPGs where romantic advances are usually shunned as they are perceived as insecure or intrusive.
For example, 42% of female who sought a partner online have complained of inappropriate advances or receiving unsolicited explicit materials. Meanwhile, some 38% of men have been lied to by someone with regards to the sender’s identity, leaving many people open and vulnerable.
Well, in the world of MMORPGs things are simpler – if you can’t hit it off with someone, there’s always the raid progression to take care of.