I haven’t played a ton of games over the internet though I spent a lot of time in them whenever I play one. For the past three years, I’d been engrossed with various online games particularly MMORPGs. Some I played for a few weeks or months while there are others I played for almost or more than a year. I played with international players, foreigners and Filipinos (who lives overseas) alike, and local gamers. I was like a lost kid when I started being active in the online gaming community because it’s new and totally different from the activities I usually do. There are practices and prejudices in the gaming community just like everywhere else and there are habits that you’d eventually picked up in the long run or simply real life lesson you’d never think would apply in the gaming world. If you are asking me if it’s for the better, well, I don’t really know. *smirks*
Some of the games I played over the years. Ragnarok Online is at the center because it was the first MMORPG I played and it started it all.
10. Never trust anyone. Not with your in game money, hard earned items or account details. It’s up to you if you wish to share your account to people you’ve met online whom you’ve come to trust but you have to remember that anyone can betray anyone.  I’ve learned that the hard way. 
9. Be wary of scammers. It’s very sad to acknowledge but most of the scammers I encountered in different MMORPGs are Filipinos. That is why I avoid buying/selling/trading in game items with players I don’t really know. I can set up a shop where they can buy directly and vice versa if the game allows that, if not I stick to Auction House.
8. You’ll learn a new language. Including abbreviations you’ll only find in game. PUGs, Whisper, Raid, Party, Imba, OP, Guild Run, Resu, Heal, DPS, Tanker, Melees, NVM, Kick, Noob, IGN, AH. These are just some of the words I’ve learned in game. They also have this abbreviated sentences that they use in Public Chat that actually make sense if you are a gamer. Examples are “LF Tank/DPS/Priest 5/10 [DG’s name abbreviation]” and “WTS (Item) WM.”
7. Patience is a virtue. There are good players and there are annoying, like really, annoying players. If you partied with individuals who don’t listen or who are plainly hard headed, it’s an effing test of patience. If you’re new to the dungeon and aren’t familiar with the boss’ mechanics, listening to those who know is essential so if you get one who has comprehension issues, oh well, good luck to you. I can try a few times but if the cost of the raid is ripping me off, I’d throw in the towel and leave.
6. Leave your credit cards and Paypal account details in the deepest recesses of your brain. Translation: DON’T SPEND REAL MONEY. I don’t have the time to grind all day, seven times a week , in a game to get the items I want or upgrade the gears of my character through in game trading using in game money. If it’s something that can be bought in the cash shop, I would most likely load cash and get it. BUT. That is not a smart financial decision.
I. Must. Practice. Control.
5. Do not accept FB Friend Request(s) from people you don’t really know. Most guilds have their own groups in Facebook. I am not one who’ll create a second FB account to hide my real identity and join the group. So yes, I use my legit FB account to interact with these people in those groups. My account before is semi-public, anyone can add me as a friend but after so many random requests from people I don’t really know I changed my setting and only those who have mutual friends with me can add me as a friend. Although, I still don’t accept the request if I haven’t played with them for some time. 
4. Get to know the people behind the characters. Gamers will say that once they are logged into their characters, they transform into a different person. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t turn into superheroes nor they are bipolar, they just simply exhibit attitude they don’t normally show in real life. Like a shy person turns into a boastful, mean monster online or a real man pretending to be a lovely, helpless girl to get free items. I make it a point to talk to them beyond game topics. Yes, I ask them personal questions, really personal questions. Most of the time they are game in answering even the most embarrassing questions I throw them.
3. Build rapport and establish relationships. The people you always play with online is like a network. They’re from diverse cultures. Making an effort to get to know them beyond superficial level in the cyber world will bring wonders to your social life. You’ll never know if some of them will be your real friends in the long run especially if you have met them in person. That is why I understand that some organized guilds require voice chat programs for their recruits. It’s one way to get to know the players personally because you to talk to them in runs you do. My guild uses RaidCall; we are encouraging the players to go online in RC but is not required. I also occasionally set up meet ups within Metro Manila or I meet the members I often talk to when I visit their home towns.
2. Create unusual IGNs. I am not brave enough to create crazy in game names. The best I can do is use food names as IGNs. I’d been using TwisterFries in multiple games. Some of the IGNs I’ve used are SariaBelle, TeaLemonade, CoffeeGirl and Cheesecake. Unique, funny and totally inappropriate IGNs are not my forte but I know many who love impossible IGNs. You want samples? Amoypekpek, Regla, TightKeps, SqueezeMe, Aktarub, BaklaAko, Devirginized, IAmaVirgin and PootAH. That is just a fraction of the unbelievable names you’ll see in game. I’d stick to food names, novel or movie characters, thank you very much.
1. Trash talking. Yes, I learned how to f*ck*ng trash talk. Thanks to my mentors Justin and Sase. However, I still can’t do it the same as my mentors do. I can’t and won’t trash talk players that are not my guild mates. I do it in jest and my guildies know that. It’s why they don’t take me too seriously if I start trash talking. But if a random player do that to me? I’d take a screenshot and file a ticket. I still and won’t ever tolerate trash talking. It’s a different matter if it’s Justin or Sase though. They taught me how to do that so I often practice it on them.
Here’s one party chat I had with Justin and Vinz in game. Please take note that I won’t be using our actual IGNs:
Justin: Pinutulan na ata nila akong net. Gagong Globe yan.
Alona: Gago, kapag pinutulan ka ng net dapat diconnected ka na ulol.
Alona: Tangina ka.
Vinz: Hahaha. Tumatrashtalk si Alona.
Alona: Oi si Justin nagturo sakin nyan.
Justin: Di ako nantatrashtalk ate.
That’s what Justin always say. But in reality? This is how he trashtalks:
Justin: PUTANGINA NIYONG MGA TAGA S*****A. MAMATAY NA KAYONG LAHAT. ANG BOBOBO NIYO.
See? Isn’t he angelic? He is extremely nice if you meet him in person though.
Many players who play online games have different reasons why they spend most of their time in MMORPGs. If you take the time to get to know them you’ll eventually know that it’s either they’re going through something or they’re using the game as an escape from reality. For some time, I had my reasons too. Lately it became a habit. I can still walk away from it but I’d probably visit from time to time. Because of the time I spend with this, sometimes my real social life suffer or there are things I have to drop to focus on this. Probably the best lesson MMORPGs taught me is to find balance. I’m not just juggling work and life balance; virtual, social and personal time are also part of the equation. Right now I still do most of the things I love. I find time to write, read, travel, go out with friends, be healthy and work out. I gave up watching Asian Dramas not just because of this but also due to the fact that it eats a lot of my free time and you guys know that my free time recently is dedicated to gaming. I’m also waiting for new MMORPGs I want to try. There are many things I want to do. There are organizations I want to join. There are numerous changes I want to do in my life. It’s not question of if but a question of when. I don’t know when am I going to give this up. I know eventually I’d come into that but one thing I know is for sure, the relationship I build with the friends I made here will stay for a long long time.
 Quote from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
 Yes, I am still sour graping over the 80,000 zeny lost (stolen is such a strong word for a misunderstanding if you can call it such but I guess not really) in my Odin account in Ragnarok Online 2. It wouldn’t have been such a blow if I only spent time to get that. I am a paying player and I earned that zeny with items I bought from the cash shop which I sell in the Auction House.
 My posts are still filtered. So even if I accepted them as a friend they are still categorized under Online Games which is part of my exception list for too personal posts or status updates.