Over the years, we’ve met many great people in school, college, university, our careers and at social gatherings. With gaming, we’ve also met a few great people, some we’ve become closer with, some we’ve added and followed on social media, and some we’ve actually taken the time to visit and spend time with in real life. Have my gaming friends become my closest friends? I guess so!
I love video games. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be part of 4-One Gaming, would I? I’ve been playing since I was very, very young, starting off with Centipede on the Atari 2600. I’ve owned many consoles, never really been a pc gamer, but it wasn’t until I picked up the Xbox 360 in 2006, when online gaming and microphones became the norm for me. I still have friends on my friends list who I met back then, although I don’t talk to them, I see their gamertag as a reminder of how long I’ve been gaming on a social level.
Although my console was purchased after watching hours of videos of Test Drive Unlimited, I guess it all really start when I started playing Gears of War on December 5th, 2006. Yes I remember the exact date for such a momentous occasion in my life. It changed a lot of things for me, it introduced me to some of my best friends, although I didn’t know this at the time.
It wasn’t really until 2008, when Gears of War 2 came out, and with dodgy launch servers, and changes to the gameplay, that I went back to playing Gears 1 online again, and seeing some of my ‘friends’ back playing it, I started conversing with them. We all had the same complaints. It felt too different, the running was slower, the frag tagging of the walls and floors were annoying, the lobbies were buggy. Gears 1 was home again. Playing with like-minded people on my at-the-time favourite game was bliss. Those guys knew how to play. We kept playing.
It was Christmas of 2008 and I joked about popping over to the UK from Ireland to spend a weekend with some of these friends, and I did it. I went over in February of the following year, on Valentine’s weekend of all dates! It was awesome. Nobody got hurt, nobody got in trouble, nobody had a bad experience. I made some new friends. To this day, we’re still friends, and of the highest level.
I became more chatty and sociable online, I tried interacting with everyone, although the new Xbox 360 party feature made it more difficult, as everyone started grouping up into private parties. Understandable, when you had twelve year olds telling you stories about what your mother did the night before, and what your sexual preference was.
Another big factor in my social gaming life was Battlefield Bad Company 2. That game was beautiful. Solid multiplayer, great mechanics, amazing, memorable maps, and reasons for friends to squad up and work as a team. ‘Sausage Sunday’ was born, where a group of us would have our own fry-ups at home, then gather up in the afternoon for a few brews and a game or twelve on Bad Company. All lads, all Battlefield, all day. We became brothers on the battlefield, and still reminisce over the good old days, like war veterans who made it back from the war.
Forza Motorsport was also a big influence for me as well. Through that, I found some good racing buddies, players who would test me, give me something to challenge, and help paint some cars for me. One friend in particular knew of my love for Rock Band and the Mazda RX-8, and combined the two. Best. Present. Ever!
Through Forza Motorsport 4, I met Matt, who also helped get 4-One Gaming off the ground, and we’ve since raced as teams, and have recently met up for the first time in two years since starting our endeavor. With Forza Motorsport 5, we met a group of guys who organise racing leagues, known as EIR or Xbox Excellence in Racing. Those guys are brilliant fun, and have great passion towards all things motorsport, be it Formula 1 or the racing in Project CARS and Forza.
Since my ventures into 4-One Gaming, my passion for playing with the community has continued to rise. Talking to our fans for the first time, learning about them as people, and understanding that they’re just gamers like myself, it’s a wonderful thing. Friendships are made and fought over battlefields, racetracks and epic moments of gaming joy.
While our days are made up of going to work, going to education, or hanging out with friends in the real world, it is with my gaming friends on gaming networks that I spend the majority of my time. Finding another gamer there is obviously easy due to the instant hobby connection, but getting through those first five minutes of conversation, figuring out if you like the person on your first impressions, arranging to play again in the near future, and building a new foundation of friendship, is brilliant.
I don’t know whether I am being anti-social, or if online gaming and having ‘virtual friends’ is just a change in the times, but I couldn’t be happier. I get to enjoy my favourite pastime, and play my favourite games with friends of similar or varying interests, and the conversation is always fun, friendly, interesting and at times, strategic and competitive, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, I ask again, are my best friends the ones on the internet? Yes they are.