I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of my online friends in real life. Given the chance, I would highly recommend meeting the people you play with. Conventions like PAX are a great way to get together on common grounds and just hang out, party, and get excited about the upcoming games you are going to get to experience together. Luckily I have been able to do this for a number of years and each time it is very exciting to see my friends (who were once strangers) and interact outside of a game.
I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining relationships outside of your online friends. I find that people tend to have many online friendships and fail to keep their RL (real life) friends around. I’ll admit that hanging out with people online and in a game is WAY easier than actually going out and meeting friends for a game of basketball or go for a drink at a pub. Don’t fall into the trap of having a plethora of online friends and realizing that you are lonely because you failed to keep your RL friends around. I realize that some people don’t have many friends and that gaming has given them access to a whole new pool of people to make friends with. In some situations that is alright, but I would highly encourage people to balance their life by going out and finding friends they can meet with on a regular basis. Trust me, it is important. I work out of my house and you go stir crazy when you haven’t left for a couple days…
Co-op is a very important aspect of my gaming background, as I have been able to find some of my best friends through games. People that used to be strangers, sharing a common goal, who eventually turned into friends. Not everyone is going to become best buds after a Halo campaign, but I think it is pretty cool that we have the technology to hop into these worlds and work together. Co-op games have been around for a long time, but it was only in the last decade co-op has become a driving factor in game development with games based around co-op. It is awesome because we’re going to have a whole new generation of people playing together, and maybe even people will make a friend or two.