Virtually Together: Examining Pre-Existing Relationships in MMOG Play
Keywords:MMOG, RIFT, romantic couples, friendships, relationships, player studies
Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have been a fruitful venue to study social interactions ranging from small temporary groups, to larger more permanent in-game social collectives such as guilds or clans. Much of this literature is focused on strangers becoming friends through MMOG play; comparatively, little is known about gameplay-based interactions between pre-existing romantic couples. To address that gap, this paper describes the methods used and subsequent results of an empirical investigation of the in-game actions and collaborations between couple and non-couple pairings as they played the MMOG RIFT. In our attempts to determine if couples display distinctive in-game behaviors, we found that players with a pre-existing relationship (friendship or romantic) behave in a similar manner while playing together. However, our findings indicate that avatar proximity is the key to distinguishing whether this pre-existing relationship is platonic or romantic in nature.