Gaming: Connecting Us in Ways We'd Never Imagine
It never fails to amaze me how gaming brings people together that otherwise never would have given one another a second glance.
This phenomenon is easy enough to see at conventions, and game stores--logically.
What fascinates me though, is when gaming brings strangers together, out of nowhere, when and where you would least expect it.
Recently I was lucky enough to spend some time visiting a friend in Washington DC. I flew down as planned, and had a greyhound overnight bus ticket ready to go for my trip back home, the day before Memorial Day. Unfortunately, a family emergency brought my last day in DC to an abrupt close, and I found myself booking a last minute flight home via Logan airport.
With the injured loved one on my mind, I apprehensively boarded my last minute flight-- climbing over three strollers to board the plane. I looked around desperately for any open window seats, hoping I may be able to make a switch from the aisle, but no luck. The flight was full, and before we had even left the gate a veritable chorus of wailing children had already broken out. (Note: On a normal day/flight, upset children on an airplane don't bother me in the slightest, when my sister's boyfriend is in critical condition, I'm not a fan.)
As I was admitting defeat to a miserable flight, the Square Enix logo on the iPad of my seat-mate, caught my eye. Doing my best not to seem extra creepy, I watched a stranger play Final Fantasy on his iPad until we had to turn off all electronic devices, and I was elated.
Almost immediately after takeoff, I failed miserably at hiding the fact that I was watching his gameplay.
In an incredibly smooth recovery, I apologized for being creepy, and told him that I was a games writer. I didn't even get to finish my sentence, because he jumped in asking what site I wrote for, what my favorite game was, and if I would be at E3.
For the remainder of our two hour flight, we talked games, cons, life and everything in between. My new friend is from Ireland, but is originally from the US. He works with virtual reality software to manipulate DNA and the Human Genome-- wow.
He and his team have the fascinating job of working to assess and isolate immuno-responses and find cures for diseases. (No sarcasm here folks, that's impressive.) We both love Dark Ages of Camelot, and have backed the similar title Camelot Unchained, from Mark Jacob's new studio. We discovered a similar love for indie titles, and for the "indie renaissance" sweeping the gaming community. Likewise we share a similar distaste for the state of AAA game development. At the end of our flight we exchanged emails, and wished one another well on our further travels and gaming.
I deplaned with a little extra bounce in my step, and when I got to baggage claim I waved goodbye to my new friend "A" as I hugged my somewhat older friend, and waited for my ride. Coincidentally, my ride joked around with me, asking if I'd made a new friend. My ride, a gaming stranger-turned-friend, whom I'd met through Twitch and Twitter, was excited for me. He understood more than most, how I'd gleefully befriended a stranger through a shared love of gaming.
Later on when I recounted my story to a different friend, (and fellow GameSkinny writer) Max, he understood too. Max and I had met at Pax East, and forged an unusual and surprisingly solid friendship with over a short two days--Where some people in work, or school, or the mom's group would feel I was strange--irresponsible even, my gaming friends understand how fantastic and sometimes common this is.
For many, the idea of risking my anonymity, and potentially my safety, to introduce myself to a foreign stranger on a plane, is ludicrous. For the friends I have made within the gaming community, most of whom were strangers up until the day when all of a sudden they weren't anymore--it makes perfect sense.
The gaming community is an island for misfits sometimes, and it never fails to amuse me how we end up finding one another.