We never recommend sticking with the game solely to stay in touch with or please other players. It's no fun to play if your heart's not in it, and nobody has any fun if you're obviously slogging along with little real enthusiasm. If you need to take a break from World of Warcraft but you don't want to lose touch with the people here who've brightened your life, you can keep in touch so many other ways.
Almost like the real thing
When you stop and think about it, much of the chat you enjoy with buddies in game doesn't happen over a mutual activity. She's running dailies, you're setting up for a raid; he's waiting for a PvP queue to pop, you're resetting auctions. Once you come to grips with the idea that it doesn't really matter whether your "whisper" originates from inside or outside the game, it's natural to begin considering all the different ways to keep in touch with WoW buddies from outside Azeroth.
- Real ID If you're real-world friends with the players you want to keep touch with, Real ID can keep you in touch across Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, and Diablo III. You'll see when your Real ID friends are online and be able to chat across games, no matter which games each of you are playing.
- BattleTags This in-game friends system is superior to Real ID because it does not expose your real name or other personal details. Like Real ID, BattleTags allow you to find and chat with friends you've met in-game, form groups, and stay connected across multiple Blizzard games.
- Voice chat You probably already have Skype, Mumble, or Ventrilo (or all three!) loaded onto your gaming rig, and you're probably already used to logging in to chat while gaming. There's no law that says you can't keep doing that even if you're not gaming. (Just don't interrupt any groups or raids in progress.)
- Mobile Armory guild chat Keep your guildmates in your pocket -– literally -– with the Mobile Armory app for your smartphone (Android devices or iPhone, iPad, or iPod).
- Raptr Push your chat right into the game with Raptr. This gaming community platform for gamers can connect with Facebook and works with many game titles (some better than others). If Raptr's not to your taste, you can find plenty of alternatives.
- Instant messaging Keep things simple with plain ol' instant messaging. This does rely on your friend's being willing and able to be logged in to whatever service you choose during gaming time.
If you'd like to stay in touch with some game friends but don't necessarily want to get sucked into one-on-one conversation, look for a looser and more group-oriented method of communication.
- Guild forums Many guilds still "clean rosters" when someone leaves the game, but plenty still allow inactive and former members to drop by the guild forums. Especially if you can retain your internal access, this is a great way to pop by and say hello every now and then.
- Facebook More and more guilds have their own Facebook pages now. If yours does, you usually won't be booted out when you leave Azeroth, making this the perfect way to share a joke and a word from time to time.
The usual cautions apply
As always, keep your head about you when sharing personal information like real names, email and physical addresses, and phone numbers with players you haven't met in person. It never hurts to set up a safe, more public method of keeping in touch. If the friendship is meant to be, when you find yourself still merrily chatting up a storm long after one or the other of you has left WoW, you'll know it's time to make things more personal.
Take care ... and stay in touch!
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with advice from the Drama Mamas; send your questions to the Mamas at email@example.com. Stay in the clear with the Drama Mamas Guide to Preventing MMO Gaming Drama.