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MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) are played by an estimated 25-30 million people around the world according to a Boston technology-research firm referenced in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Certain videogame publishers (including EverQuest’s Sony & Anarchy Online’s Funcom) have confirmed that twenty couples or more (in each of these respective games) have married after being acquainted inside their games. An “in-game” wedding is often the first step.
One woman left her boyfriend for her MMORPG love she flew to meet 8,000 miles away. Here’s how the story is told:
Susan Bard, 26, says she wasn’t looking for love when she began playing EverQuest 2. But then her character met Randall Zenonian’s early last year.
Mr. Zenonian, a U.S. Navy corpsman who was stationed in Everett, Wash., had his character, Lord Krideldek, approach Ms. Bard’s Koloara to discuss her interest in a leadership position in a guild, or group of players.
Ms. Bard, who lived in York, Pa., says she was impressed by Mr. Zenonian because he was an avid role player. She also liked the care he took with his typing. Unlike a lot of players, she says, “he made sure his sentences weren’t choppy.”
The next time she logged on to play, Ms. Bard began having her character flirt with Mr. Zenonian’s. Though she had an actual boyfriend, she saw the in-game flirtation as harmless. Then Mr. Zenonian did something else she found attractive: He learned how to speak a special language unique to her type of character — an elf. “As a chick, that impressed me all to heck,” Ms. Bard says.
Mr. Zenonian was struck by Ms. Bard’s intelligence. “The game is very complex,” the 29-year-old says, but “I didn’t have to spend a lot of time explaining things to her.”
Soon, they were playing daily and sending each other instant messages. They exchanged photographs and, about four months after meeting in the game, they talked on the phone for six hours. Before long, Ms. Bard says, she got an ultimatum from her boyfriend: Stop playing with Mr. Zenonian or it’s over.
Ms. Bard chose Mr. Zenonian, who had by then been transferred to a naval base in Guam. She was living with her parents and working at a grocery store. So she flew to Guam, about 8,000 miles from home, and has been living with Mr. Zenonian since September. “I didn’t question it because it felt right,” Ms. Bard says.