it’s a fuzzy fuzzy world…

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

Nick, Debbie and Pete

Posts Tagged ‘notjustagame’

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