Playing games with friends. When it’s done in the same room, it creates near-instant friendship. When done online, it can be exhausting. My mind is a flurry of activity when I interact with people, and it’s not easy being amidst a large group of people if I’m not familiar with them. When I spend time with someone new one-on-one, I can focus on that person, and that takes enough of my mental energy as it is. With a group of people, my brain overloads and I need to get away from it all after a while.
I’m finding it much the same when I’m playing MMOs. Of course, there are those who I talk with on Twitter, which has become my main mode of social interaction with people who share my interests, and I find it much easier to approach them in-game since I’ve developed an ongoing relationship with these folks. But mostly, I am often left with just names in a chatbox. Even when I use a voice-chat service like Ventrilo or Teamspeak, I only get the bare minimum of who that person is. I can’t see people’s faces, see their little physical reactions and gestures; there’s a lot less connection and more build-up of stress. Going into a teamspeak channel is like going into a room full of strangers – and I can’t even see their faces.
I miss the days of getting together with a bunch of friends to play games together. Console games, board games, party games. Even playing outdoors games like capture the flag dissolved the stranger-barrier really quickly for me. If you want to get two people to open up to one another, having them play a game together is a much better way than, let’s say, coffee or a dinner. It’s nowhere near the same for me in an online environment.
Maybe I need to schedule some more intimate game-time with a select few in the near future, because lately, gaming online is getting to be very tiring form of play for me.
But maybe that’s just the cost of being social.