Nick Yee's excellent Daedalus Project (covering the psychology of MMORPGs) has put up its latest edition, and it includes some interesting articles about players and the meta-game (of which WoW Insider is a part), seasonal play patterns, and active subscriptions per player. But the most interesting one is called "The 'Impossible' Romance," about romantic relationships that originate from within an MMORPG game like World of Warcraft.
Nick first covers the patterns of ingame to real life romances-- there's the "First Contact," the "Incubation Period," the "Moment of Truth" (where two people finally decide there's a possibility of having a real-life relationship), meeting face to face, and finally the "Ever After." Surprisingly, 67% of those surveyed had relationships when the survey was collected. I'm not quite sure if that means relationships in an online game work better than other relationships-- seems to me to be a high figure.
Yee then covers the reasons why lots of people meet in places like Azeroth: it's a low pressure environment, like work, or the gym. Because first contact is anonymous and remote, shy people often are willing to take the first step when they might not in real life. And he says that online relationships benefit from working "inside-out" instead of "outside-in" like most offline relationships.
Interesting stuff-- to tell the truth, I've never met anyone personally from playing with them in an online game, romantically or not. Maybe it's because I'm more focused on the gameplay, or maybe it's just me (I can be pretty smug sometimes, I'll admit). But I'm interested in hearing other people's success (or, maybe more interesting, failure) stories. Does meeting a romantic partner in an MMORPG mean it's more likely to work? Or less?