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Is 'World of Warcraft' the future of online dating?

Blizzard

Well now, what's a guy like you doing in a place like this?

Forget Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid or whatever online dating service you might turn to in hopes of meeting the love of your life (or at least someone you can stand long enough to hang out with for a week or two).  

The New York Times has profiled couples who met while playing "World of Warcraft" – the massively popular online role-playing game – and the article comes off as a good argument for why "WoW" and games like it are far better places to meet people than online dating sites.


Reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom explains how various couples met, got to know each other and fell in love in the digital land of Azeroth. And she points out that while a game like "WoW" boasts more than 12 million players, a dating site like Match.com has less than 2 million subscribers.

But it's not just a numbers game when it comes to matters of the heart. Rosenbloom's article highlights some very good reasons why stories of online gamer love are increasingly common.

She interviewed Ramona Pringle, an interactive producer for the PBS project "Digital Nation," and Pringle points out the game requires players to work together.

Multiplayer games encourage such alliances. The beginner’s guide to World of Warcraft notes that you can go it alone, "but by going it alone, you won’t be able to master some of the game’s tougher challenges, you will likely take longer to reach the endgame, and you won’t have access to the game’s most powerful magical treasures.” Ms. Pringle thinks that is analogous to love.

The article also points out how playing "WoW" together can make some potentially awkward conversations go far easier.

Other gamers have [said] that typing their feelings or flirtations is less awkward than saying them aloud. That can lead to more-honest conversations, and fewer misunderstandings. It’s why many players believe that they come to know each other faster and better than, say, people who meet over a few dates.

Meanwhile, sure, "WoW" may take place in an entirely fictional locale ... but those who visit this online universe can find some pretty romantic scenery. Rosenblom describes how two players who fell in love "became inseparable, spending hours lounging beside by waterfalls and strolling through parks."

Awwww.

Over at women's website Jezebel, writer Anna North notes that "like any method of courtship, dating via Warcraft has its downsides." But she says she wouldn't be surprised if one of the big online datings services introduced a role-playing game in the near future.

"Just as online dating has lost much of its stigma, online gaming is coming into its own as a legitimate pastime where people can not only storm castles and pitch battles, but also talk, get to know each other, and even find love," she says.

Of course, games don't have to be played online to inspire love. After all, this couple recently got engaged thanks to their mutual love of the console game "Borderlands." And I speak from experience when I say that married couples can  find video games to be cheaper (and more fun) than therapy when it comes to working on their long-term connection.

But there's one thing the New York Times article doesn't say much about that I think is probably the real reason why "WoW" just might be a better place to meet someone than, say, Match.com. The thing is, playing "WoW" — or any game really — simply gives you something to do with the person you're interested in.

As most people with any relationship experience will probably tell you, the best way to meet someone you'll truly connect with is while doing something you love. Few people love surfing dating web sites. But plenty of people love to, say, go dancing, go to the theater and, yes, play games.

If you meet someone while playing a game, at least you know you've got that in common. And what could be more exciting than slaying a dragon on a first date?

(Thanks to Jezebel for the heads up.)

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