The Question of Online Friends

Steam FriendsWe’re all used to the buddy list, that mysterious thing full of avatars and names that populates the user interface of our gaming machine of choice. From the Wii to Steam to XBL and PSN, we’ve gone through the process of adding names to that list, connecting with other users in the vastness of cyberspace in order to play our silly video games. Many of these systems refer to these connections as friends, but is that always the case?

A recent Kotaku post titled Are Your Online Friends Really Your Friends got my brain fired up on this subject, and I think it’s a cool question for discussion. I’m not sure how many of you have developed friendships with online buddies before, but I have done this quite a few times over the years. In fact, I have friends from a forum I used to go to 10 years ago that I still actively communicate with through Facebook and IM, and I have even met a handful of them.

There are many people that I know who would not view these as actual friendships, but I don’t think being face-to-face with somebody is a requirement for getting to know them in a way that you can call them a legit friend. It goes both ways, too. I think you can just as easily really know somebody you’ve never seen just as easily as you can not know somebody you see everyday.

In an age where more of our interactions with people are happening online, I think it’s going to become more and more common for people’s online friends to increase. I just view it as people that you would be friends with it if you lived close to each other, you just do it over a distance. I know that XBL is how I kept up with many of my friends from college, so how is it any different if you’ve never officially met the person?

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this topic? Can online friends be real friends? Go!

Source- Kotaku

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

7 thoughts on “The Question of Online Friends”

  1. I think online friends can totally be friends. I met two guys about three years ago on Gears 1, and we played together all the time, then exchanged phone numbers, and added each other on Facebook. To this day we call, text, IM, and play with each other. One of them even went to Japan in the Marines and we would talk to him every now in then (he gets back this week actually). We have yet to actually meet in person, but plan to do so eventually. I don’t know how that wouldn’t qualify as a real friend.

  2. Our public CS server has 78 admins and probably 160+ members that aren’t admins / disappeared over the years, so of course, the “friendslist” grows pretty fast.

    But we also do a LAN every year, have a Facebook page and a few of them even have my cell phone number. If I didn’t live in Canada, I probably would have made it to the LAN in May (Chicago area).

    Hell, the guy who hosts my websites lives in Quebec. I’ve known him for about 8 years I think. He hasn’t played CS in probably 5, but we still keep in touch.

  3. I vote that online friends can be “real friends”.

    The term “friends” is dynamic in the same way that “family” is. Our definitions of friends and family are changing as the world changes around/with us. Reflecting our way of dealing/interacting with people. Online friends can be real friends if that is what we want “friends” to mean. Otherwise it will evolve into some other term like. IMO.

  4. I have several people I know online who I would consider close friends and we have never even met or know what the other one looks like.

    1 I met back in 2002 on a now dead MMORPG (I have irl friends I’ve known for a shorter time then that!) and we have the level of trust where he’s had me use his online bank to do something when his internet wasn’t working.

    I personally find that pretty cool but I know some one reading this will be picking their jaw up from the floor.

  5. It’s cool to see that you other guys have the same kinds of stories. My wife used to think it was weird, but has since gotten used to the fact that I just have a couple of online friends that I consider to be close friends.

  6. While i have real life friends on my friends list. Most of the other people I would consider acquaintances. I talk to some more than others, but I have very few that I would consider close that I have never seen in real life.

  7. I think that there are different kinds of friends, even just counting offline friends. However, now that we have online friends I think that the kinds of relationships we can have with other people is going to grow in different, and more, ways than expected. Even just five or six years ago I would not have called online friends “real’ friends, Now I consider the gamer sushi community “friends”. Not in the sense that we all know each others favorite color and what not but as gamers interested in talking about our hobbies without any flamebaiting and or fanboyism (well maybe just a little fanboyism) and in that sense yes online friends can be friends.



    1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

    2. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile

    3. a member of the same nation, party, etc.

    In my mind online friends can be all of these

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