After years of playing the MMORPG City of Heroes I had an epiphany. Through these avatar interactions my wife and I met and made new friends who’d probably not have considered us as such had they met us on a fun day at the park.
Different games attract different types of people in my experience. The concept of City of Heroes (players create comic book superheroes with their own back story, powers, and unique costumes) appealed to me on several levels but for now I’ll focus on one; teamwork and cooperative interaction. Character archetypes, enemies, and game-play settings nudged players toward and rewarded them for team play. Members of a team serve specialized roles and chat between teammates often raises efficiency and increases the survival rate. But on top of all that, like many comic books, there’s the banter.
Many folks get heavily involved in the character they’ve created and their in-game dialogue reflects that. I really enjoyed writing the background story for my characters but didn’t go in too deep for role playing. For the most part my online friends and I cracked jokes, shared snippets of our daily lives, etc; normal friend stuff.
Eventually, we met with some of these folks in real life. After a few such meetings it really hit me, the idea that we’d come together on an intellectual level without any preconceived notions based on external influences.
That’s when scenes from Doctor Who hit me like a lightning bolt. An assassin in an Apollo Eleven spacesuit steps out of a lake and approaches the Doctor having a picnic. The surreal feel of that suit in such a normal setting combined with the mysterious identity of the assailant gave me an idea. What if we all wore spacesuits for a year?
Granted, on a realistic scale this idea falls off the charts. But imagine it. How many new friendships might arise and how many overgrown egos would shrivel down to a manageable size? We might all learn something about ourselves when we wrap the book’s cover in a spacesuit and force folks to read the pages in between.