Online Friends

a purple tiefling in lab gear on the left, an orange tiefling with his arms around the other 2 in the middle and a pasty elf with black and blue hair wearing a mask
3 of our Dungeons and Dragons characters drawn by Brontion01. Right to Left Red (_coal;), Gambit (Brontion01) and Yorue (Jazilbazil)

Friends are an integral part of who you are. Humans have an instinct to seek out groups to belong in, and now, in our increasingly digitalised world, sometimes these groups are people that you rarely (if ever) see in real life.

I believe that most people who play multiplayer games often have a friend who they haven’t seen in the real world for months or even years. The rise of instant messaging and online gaming has made it much easier to keep in contact and maintain friendships over long distances. Today, I will tell you about my online friend group and our experiences.

My friend group, which I will refer to as the ‘Grass Touchers’ (which is based on our Discord server name), first met over a council (Banyule) meetup that ran Dungeons and Dragons after which we immediately started a group chat to play Dungeons and Dragons as well as other games.

We all have a love for gaming and Dungeons and Dragons, whether it be for the activity itself or for the social connections it brings. I got into Dungeons and Dragons for its social interactions, and since then, it has spiralled into a horrible dice addiction. My friend GhostlyAlchemy is our main Dungeon Master and enjoys running tell stories and emotionally scarring us by killing the fan-favorite character.

Our resident artist, Brontion01, plays Dungeons and Dragons for the characters and incredible roleplaying. The final member of our group is _coal who enjoys Dungeons and Dragons for the social and combat aspects of the game. Dungeons and Dragons is our favourite thing to do together if we can get everyone online simultaneously.

Image: Brontion01‘s drawing of their character Ace on the left and GhostlyAlchemy‘s character Thyme (pronounced as Thime) on the right

GhostlyAlchemy’s Cyberpunk campaign is incredible, so it is our main campaign, and we all decided to run the campaign to completion. Everyone’s planning style is very different from one another. For example, Brontion01 has pages and pages of lore and is also planning for the future of our Dungeons and Dragons experience, while I only have a paragraph of planning, and I make everything up on the spot.

Even though we play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, we still like to play video games together. Even more so if the game has a multiplayer mode, which we will easily put over ten hours in together. Our favourite games to play together are Genshin Impact*, Roblox, Titanfall 2 and For Honor. While not a multiplayer game, we are MASSIVE fans of Persona (specifically five and its spinoffs).

*GhostlyAlchemy has asked me to mention that he is “very good at Genshin Impact.”

We love playing multiplayer games together, but our favourite genres and what we value in a game are wildly different. For example, _coal loves strategy and RTS games, while I can’t get enough of visual novels (like Ace Attorney) and fast-paced games of any genre, like Titanfall 2 and Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. On the other hand, GhostlyAlchemy really enjoys RPGs like Persona 5 Royal. Brontion01 enjoys relaxing games like Slime Rancher and some FPS games.

Image: Two of our Dungeons and Dragons characters in a Persona 5 reference
(Drawn by Brontion01)

Everyone’s least favourite genre is wildly different, too. Brontion01 can’t get anywhere near horror games (I watched them play Subnautica, which was hilarious). But myself and _coal;, absolutely despise sports games.

While online friend groups have immense benefits, there are still several downsides. Some of these downsides are minor, like not remembering how they look, like when I recently had to find a picture we took together to remember what _coal; looked like. Thankfully, we all live in Victoria, so time zones aren’t an issue. Unfortunately, our main issue is that I am the only one who goes to school every day, meaning that the others have nonexistent sleep schedules. (Interviewing them was a pain because they were mostly sleeping during the day.) My biggest issue with online friend groups, or just gaming, is the hardware you need to run properly — once, my PC was broken for a week, so I couldn’t game much.

Even people with vastly different interests and over long distances can get together and find something to bond over or introduce something new to everyone to play together, and that’s why online friend groups are so incredible.

Image: Ace and Thyme having a quiet night looking out at the city (drawn by Brontion01)

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