The Think Tank: Keeping in touch with the friends in the magic box

Earlier this week in the comments of the article about MMO social network ZergID, readers went off on a tear about how MMO players keep in touch and communicate with guildies and friends beyond the game -- as my mom used to say, the people in the magic box. What quickly became obvious is that there's no one accepted method. Social media, forums, chats, IMs, Steam, and this crazy invention called a telephone were all mentioned. I thought we could use a more formal discussion, so in today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers how they keep in touch with guildies and MMO friends when they're not playing or when they're between games... if they keep in touch at all.

Anatoli Ingram, Columnist

@ceruleangrey: Most MMOs tend to have a fandom based on various blogging websites and forums, and I participate in a few of them along with my gaming friends. I've actually met most of my long-term MMO friends outside the games we play before meeting up in-game.

Bree Royce, Editor-in-Chief

@nbrianna: My guild still primarily uses IRC, but we have a Mumble channel, forums, Steam, and a Twitter bot that pushes our IRC links into a private Twitter feed too, which is fun. More mainstream social media tends not to get much use for guild-related stuff. IRC is admittedly old-school, but it still works beautifully as an open guild chat that functions on every imaginable device so no one is left out no matter who's playing what. It's kept us together between games for so long that there's no way I'd ditch it now.

Justin Olivetti, Contributing Editor

@Sypster: Primarily I use Twitter. I really appreciate it when any of my guilds broadcast announcements and coordinate activities through this platform, since I always have it on. Most of them use forums too, but when I belong to several different guilds, it's kind of annoying to be asked to crawl through multiple forums on a regular basis.

Larry Everett, Columnist

@Shaddoe: I admit that keeping in touch with some of my friends and guildies outside if the game we met on is difficult, but there are a few who still keep in touch. The bulk of people in my guild who have moved on from, for instance, Star Wars: The Old Republic will still pop into our Mumble server. However, the ones that I am closest with will use more pedestrian means like Google Hangout, text messages, or -- gasp -- calling me on the phone.

Mike Foster, Contributing Editor

@MikedotFoster: I tend to play games with my real-life friends. So I suppose, in a sense, I'm always in touch with some of my guildmates. My Dota friends and I are almost always in Skype together. My ex-girlfriend was our World of Warcraft guild leader. I haven't kept any friends specifically from one game or another, but the real-life relationships I've brought into games have endured through multiple titles. I do miss some of my old guildies, though -- late nights and long days build strong virtual relationships.

MJ Guthrie, Contributing Editor

@MJ_Guthrie: I have a few really close friends I have made from different games, and those I keep in touch with regularly with text, Skype, email, Mumble. Ventrilo, IMs, and even phone calls. And now that I actually have Facebook, I even communicate there a bit (though rarely). Those are the people who've become a real part of my life and some of my closest friends; I have even met up with most everyone in this group!

A few others I have kept in occasional contact with via aforementioned voice servers, IMs, or email, but I do not share my private contact info with too many. When I run my guilds (not the Massively ones), we also communicate via our guild site and forums, often doing stories and such when not in game. I have just recently used Twitter to catch the attention of an MIA guildy. So you could say I have used a method or two to communicate when not in game =D

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the most caring of the carebears, so expect more than a little disagreement! Join Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and the team for a new edition right here every Thursday.