it's a fuzzy fuzzy world…

posts from the heartland, about dogs, volunteerism, fire departments, and gaming

Nick, Debbie and Pete

On the nature of friendship…

On the nature of friendship…

So there’s this game that I play on my phone… it’s kind of a cross between geocaching and capture the flag, with two global teams and a big in-person social component. (Hang in there, non-Ingressers… I see you rolling your eyes and I promise this post isn’t really about Ingress.)

Over the months that I’ve been playing, one of the best things about Ingress has been the people I’ve met and the new friends that I’ve made. I didn’t really expect my teammates to turn into anything more than passing acquaintances… people to have a beer with or go on missions with, but not “real” friends, for lack of a better term. I didn’t expect to find people that I could talk to about absolutely anything… people who’d become part of my day-to-day life in more than just playing the game.

I mean, part of being an adult is realizing that elementary-school-style BFFs don’t really last forever, and a lot of “friends” will be made around common interests, and when that common ground goes away, the friends just drift away too… Sometimes it happens immediately, and sometimes over a longer period of time, but it happens and you get used to it. And usually, those relationships are replaced by others as you find new places to go or things to be involved in (or change workplaces or churches or whatever else formed that common ground). I didn’t expect this to be any different, right?

But then one day you realize that those interest-based friendships have transcended their point of origin, and it makes you start to think about the nature of friendship. I have friends that I met through the PetsForums on CompuServe, years ago, who are still real in-person friends today, even though CompuServe has gone the way of the dodo, and even though some of us haven’t seen each other more than a handful of times in the intervening years. I have some Toller friends who I’ve not ever even met in person, and yet they’re a real and valued part of my life. And I have met so many incredible people through the band and all the sci-fi cons that we’ve attended and played at. And then there’s the fire department… suffice it to say that people really mean it when they talk about the fire department being a family.

And now there’s Ingress, and suddenly I find myself with a whole new puddle of friends and acquaintances where our initial common ground was just this game that we play on our phones. But then some of us found we have more in common… and time together, whether in person or online, became increasingly more about the social interaction and less about the game… and suddenly I realized that I was pretty heavily invested in some of these friendships. Some of these people had become or were on the way to becoming real friends… not “just” Ingress friends. And that’s a good thing… right?

But something seems different about the Ingress (or maybe gaming in general?) dynamic and the other venues where I’ve made friends. Something about these friendships seems more fragile… more tenuous… possibly more transitory. Or maybe it’s just because they started so fast and it’s still been a (relatively) short period of time (I just started playing in January and started meeting people in the spring). So I started wondering… will these friendships outlive our shared interest in the game? Am I investing too heavily in friendships that could go away tomorrow? But life is boring if you don’t take risks, so I made friends… and I let myself get attached… and I convinced myself that some of them weren’t just “Ingress Friends.” And then someone (who I’d spent time with but who wasn’t one of my closer Ingress friends) quit the game. Just disappeared for a couple of weeks, then resurfaced to announce that he was quitting, and then disappeared again from the usual online locations. And that’s perfectly okay, because sometimes RealLife really needs our attention and the best way to do that is to drop the game. And I get that the easiest way to extract yourself from something (especially something as all-consuming as Ingress can be) is just to make a complete break, at least in the short term. But it shook me. If he could just disappear, could the same thing happen with some of the people I’d gotten closer to?

And I realized that I really don’t want that to happen. And that the first step to making sure that doesn’t happen is probably to have conversations that start with something along the lines of “Hey… I want you to know that even if one of us leaves the game, I hope we can still be friends. Because I don’t want to lose you.”

Or heck, maybe I’ll just send this post. 

#ingress   #friendship   #justagame   #notjustagame  

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No Responses to “On the nature of friendship…”

  1. June 17th, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Kat Getts - WinterrRose says:

    I’m glad to know you Debbie and call you friend. #whyiIngress

  2. June 17th, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Christylee Vickers says:

    #ingress #friendship I meet the best and coolest people now. And like you I started to realize how important they are to me until recently.

  3. June 17th, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    heisdeadjim says:

    Ingress rocks. I like that there is a whole suite of people that I know now that I wouldn’t have if not for Ingress.

    When the chips were down in my life, they stood beside me and kept me going.

    They’re now friends first. Ingressers second.

  4. June 18th, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Margaret Bumby says:

    I’ve only met a few people in the game.  Too busy to get out much.  I chat with both factions in comm (possibly more likely the folks on the other team) — and see the ones I have met at cons (where I’m sure they were, but I never noticed them before) and whatnot, and the game was an opening to chat and now I actually recognize about half of them.  However, I’ve found that it’s made some of the friendships I already had just a bit stronger.  Er… that one perhaps only because we’re the same faction…

  5. June 18th, 2015 at 3:09 am

    John McConda says:

    Great post Debbie! Ingress to me is a two edged sword. It can engender instant trust between faction players and instant distrust between players on oppoosite teams.

    I think almost everyone gets burnt out on the game at some point, especially when there’s drama, but like you, I hope the friendships remain. 😊

    And of course, you’re an awesome teammate! 😀

  6. June 18th, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Shayla Maas says:

    I don’t play Ingress (mobility + immune impairments, bleh), but I play MMOs and I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through them. Hell, my husband and I met via FFXI – the best man & matron of honor at our wedding, too. Another friend from there did the music, and game friends flew in from California and Maryland and Texas and North Carolina for the wedding. We’ve all spent years chatting in game and on voice chat and visiting when we happen to be in the same region of the country.

    Games with strong social aspects are wonderful ways to meet long term friends – and short term ones, too. I’m so glad this does good things for you. 🙂

  7. September 20th, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Momma Bacon says:

    Debbie, I swear I can hear your voice when I read your writing. Your writing flows like a beautiful one on one conversation. Such talent! I think you nailed it!

  8. September 20th, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Maggie Coyne says:

    I missed this when you first posted it. Thanks for sharing it again. So many friendships I made through ingress have transcended ingress and that has been the best part of this experience.

  9. September 21st, 2016 at 2:22 am

    Debbie Gates (stoopedtollers) says:

    Mary Coghill Thanks, Mary. 🙂 I was a journalist before I was a computer geek and every once in awhile I still let that side of me out to play. I’m actually happy that I can go back and read this, over a year later, and not feel the urge to edit it.

  10. September 21st, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Debbie Gates (stoopedtollers) says:

    Maggie Coyne Glad you saw it this time… I think this is the second time I’ve brushed the dust off it, and a few more people spot it each time. That makes me happy, because I think it’s important. Early on, it really bothered me that Hangouts was literally the only contact method I had for a lot of people. Someone could completely disappear through the simple act of turning off Hangouts or, even worse, closing their G+ account. Over the year, a lot of us have relaxed some on that, and people have shared email addresses and phone numbers, but part of the really tenuous feeling early on was brought on by the fact that people could simply drop one mode of contact and be gone. And for “just Ingress friends”… that’s okay. But for the people who’ve really become part of our lives… people who we might actually need to reach in an emergency, or even just want to be sure we can maintain contact with if they drift away from the game… something more than just comms and HOs starts to be important. And remembering to take the time to reach out and maintain those connections is a thing. I find myself looking at the list of people who +1ed this and going “Hmmm… there are a few people I haven’t talked to lately. I should do something about that.”