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“Kaye & Roger's Lifelong, Intergenerational Friendships”

Games have been a part of our relationship from the moment Roger and I first got together in high school in 1998. When we started dating in senior year, it was through the game Dungeons & Dragons that I got to know Roger's three closest friends. When we graduated, the 5 of us ending up being split across 2 different universities. Then online games like Neverwinter Nights, Battlefield, and Team Fortress became a way for us to connect regularly with one another and the source of so many shared references, stories, and memories. It nurtured and sustained our friendships.

As we all grew older, moved to different parts of the U.S. and got busy with our jobs and newly forming families, we played together a bit less. Then in 2019, we reconnected with an in-person reunion where we revived our Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) group. We decided to keep playing occasionally online. So when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we were already set up to play online together and it became something we did more regularly during lockdown. Around that time, the kids in our 4 families were reaching an age where they could play online games and they began playing online together, sometimes with some of us parents along, and sometimes independently. Now we have two generations of friends. We live in different places geographically but we support our friendships through a steady stream of various games that we play together.
 

Outcome
Lifelong friendships that extend from one generation to the next.


This outcome arises from the following 6 milestones over the span of 23 years, from 17 - 40 years-old:

DetailsPathway Details

Name: Kaye
Stage of Life: 17 - 40 years-old
Genres: Action, Adventure, Battle, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Play, Shooting and Strategy
Platforms: Board Game
 

 

Foundations of Friendship

Age: 17-years-old / 01/01/1998 / 24 years ago

Play Styles: Cooperative In The Same Room and Cooperative Story

We met and started dating in high school. At that time, Roger had already been playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with his 3 closest friends and his brother, Shaun. I began to join the group's games as well. Though of course we were all roleplaying as our made-up characters, through D&D, I got to know Roger's friends and brother fairly well through our "adventures" together. We played regularly up through senior year of high school.

D&D gave me a way to build friendships with some of the other people who were important in Roger's life and this also strengthened our own relationship.

Staying Connected

Age: 20-years-old / 01/01/2001 / 21 years ago

After graduating high school, Roger, myself, and his 3 best friends ending up being split up between two different colleges. We began to play online games together on a regular basis. The first game that we took up was Neverwinter Nights, which was a video game set in a Dungeons & Dragons world. Neverwinter Nights had a single-player base game, which we had all independently explored and enjoyed, and that is part of what led to us trying out the online play together. We liked that the game allowed us to play as a small cooperative team. We used Teamspeak voice software to talk to one another online while we were playing. We still often refer to inside jokes and key moments and characters from our time in Neverwinter Nights. At a time when we easily could have drifted apart due to geographical separation and the life change that was attending college, we actually grew closer as a group.

Playing together in Neverwinter Nights helped Kaye and Roger's group of friends transition their friendship beyond high school, despite rarely seeing each in person.

A Role for Everyone

Age: 24-years-old / 01/01/2005 / 17 years ago

Neverwinter Nights was followed by a series of other games including Warlords Battlecry 2, various first-person shooters like Battlefield 2, as well as Team Fortress 1 & 2. Although we experimented with lots of different games and ways of playing together, over and over we found our group preferred to play cooperatively on the same team. Although first-person shooters didn't have the same narrative role-playing focus as games like Neverwinter Nights, our individual roles were still very important. Our group played together as a squad, even when we were playing public games where we were on much larger teams with other players. Playing closely together as our own sub-team, we each took on roles to support one another- I would often take on roles like ferrying supplies or providing cover fire, Roger would often be a medic character, and our other friends would split between mechanic or soldiers. We would sometimes switch up roles of course, always finding a way for everyone to have an individual niche that gave everyone a fun, important role.

Kaye, Roger, and friends developed a shared identity as a group that played cooperatively together on the same team.

Knowing What We Like

Age: 28-years-old / 01/01/2009 / 13 years ago

For the most part we drifted in and out of games, enjoying our time with each. However, there was one game in our journey that frayed our friendship a bit - League of Legends.

On paper, it seemed like a great fit for us - 5-person teams battling it out, with different character types. However, the reality was a bit different. Since the teams were exactly 5 players, rather than a larger team of 32 like in Battlefield, we only had each other to blame if we didn't do well. The game also had a higher skill ceiling to perform well as compared to Battlefield, so it required more playing time investment to do well. Only one member of our group was playing enough to reach that skill level. That made our games very frustrating for them. League of Legends was the kind of team game where if even one team member isn't doing great, the whole team was punished.

As a group we realized we were looking for lower stakes, where we could get away with being goofy and relaxed with one another. To this day, some members of our group avoid playing the League of Legends because of how it made them feel frustrated and competitive in a way that interfered with our friendship.

Kaye and friends realized that, while games were an important part of their friendships, if their play started to become about doing well in the game, rather than enjoying one another's company, it had a negative impact on their friendship.

Rekindling Friendships

Age: 38-years-old / 01/01/2019 / 3 years ago

After we left college, we all went through a series of big changes- jobs, marriage, kids. We all settled in different states- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Washington. While we continued playing games together for several years after graduating, eventually we all got too busy with life. From around 2015 to 2019, we stopped playing together and felt a little out of touch.

In 2019, we decided to have a reunion of sorts in person with a group vacation. We brought our families - including our kids, who were all around the same age (in the 6 to 10 year old range.) While together, we began a new D&D game together. After that in-person gathering, we realized we wanted to prioritize time with one another more. We decided to keep our new Dungeons & Dragons campaign going by playing regularly together online. For a year or so, we played occasionally in this way.

Then the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic hit. Suddenly we were all cut off from much of our usual local social activities. However, we were already set up to play D&D online together, so we began to play more frequently.

D&D gave Kaye, Roger, and friends a regular, structured, and familiar way to gather virtually together.
Although they had drifted apart for a few years, playing games like D&D online allowed Kaye, Roger, and friends to re-establish their close friendships.

The Next Generation

While we were regularly all playing D&D online together, we also were occasionally playing other games including board games online through Tabletop Simulator and then starting in February 2021 got into Valhiem. Actually, at that time I didn't play because I did not have a computer powerful enough to run Valheim, but Roger would play it a lot with his 3 high school friends.

At the same time, each of our four families have kids, all around similar ages, who were all similarly starting to develop their own identities as gamers and getting comfortable playing video games independently and with others. Our kids had already been playing some online games like Minecraft with other friends. They became interested in playing Valheim with Roger and the other adults.

In the beginning this involved a lot of supportive collaboration between the adults and kids. Often Roger, for example, would work on crafting items for the kids to use, or gather and organizing supplies for them.

Roger and his friends completed the main content of Valheim, defeating the final boss together, and then began replaying it again with some of the kids. This gave all of the adults a chance to get to know one another's kids better and vice-versa. It also motivated the creation of some kid channels on Discord so that the kids could start to communicate directly with one another to organize their own game-playing.

Even as Valheim has seen less playtime, the kids continue to explore games together, often now completely independent of us adults.

Roger and Kaye's kids started to develop trusted relationship with the other adults in their group of four families, as well as friendships with the other kids.

Pathway Outcome

The culmination of the milestones in the pathway lead to Kaye lifelong friendships that extend from one generation to the next. We have described it as a linear journey, but of course, there is always a fair amount of back and forth between the games they played.

Along with the main outcome Kaye also changed in the following ways:

  • Behaviour: D&D gave Kaye, Roger, and friends a regular, structured, and familiar way to gather virtually together.
  • Disposition: Kaye and friends realized that, while games were an important part of their friendships, if their play started to become about doing well in the game, rather than enjoying one another's company, it had a negative impact on their friendship.
  • Identity: Kaye, Roger, and friends developed a shared identity as a group that played cooperatively together on the same team.
  • Relationships: Roger and Kaye's kids started to develop trusted relationship with the other adults in their group of four families, as well as friendships with the other kids.
  • Relationships: Although they had drifted apart for a few years, playing games like D&D online allowed Kaye, Roger, and friends to re-establish their close friendships.
  • Relationships: Playing together in Neverwinter Nights helped Kaye and Roger's group of friends transition their friendship beyond high school, despite rarely seeing each in person.
  • Relationships: D&D gave me a way to build friendships with some of the other people who were important in Roger's life and this also strengthened our own relationship.

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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