Last month Arenanet held a Guild Wars 2 campaign called Friend/Ships, asking players to send in their stories of forming friendly relationships in the popular MMO. The campaign brought in tons of stories from gamers who made new friends and even some who went on to tie the knot.
This week I managed to get in touch with Elisabeth Cardy from Arenanet for a quick Q&A regarding the Friend/Ships campaign. Let’s see how it went.
Q. How did the name “Friend/Ships” for the campaign come about?
Elisabeth Cardy: When we first started brainstorming around this campaign, it was based on stories we’d heard of people who had met their significant other in game, but we really wanted to recognize that it’s not just romantic relationships that can have a deep impact on our lives. To that end, we were looking for a title that encompassed relationships of all sorts. Especially in English, the word “relationship” can have some hefty connotations of romance, so it didn’t feel right on its own. “Shipping” is a fandom term that has to do with primarily romantic relationships (“ships”), so when we were taking some early notes, we started using “Friend/Ships” as a shorthand to kind of indicate both platonic and romantic relationships, and the whole team liked it so much that when it came time to think of the final title for the campaign, we all decided that we wanted to keep this one around.
Q. What was the inspiration for this campaign? There are countless stories of people forming friendships in MMOs but developers are often hesitant to acknowledge them.
Elisabeth Cardy: We built Guild Wars 2 with the idea in mind that it should be good to see other players. We regularly see the success of that in the stories that we hear from guilds, couples, and BFFs about their in-game and out of game adventures. Hearing stories like these is incredible rewarding and heartwarming and we wanted to share some of that joy with the world!
Q. Guild Wars 2 centers a lot of its content on drop-in cooperative group play with strangers. Do you think that forms stronger bonds between players than those that are primarily competitive?
Elisabeth Cardy: Certainly the casual grouping and reinforcement that seeing other players in Guild Wars 2 is a good thing helps people meet others that they might not have normally. But, I think people can bond a lot of ways! Some of my fondest memories are of cooperative content, like running into people repeatedly at open-world boss fights, but I know plenty of folks who have stories of their own of friendships forged in the fires of a particularly fierce rivalry, or facing off together against a common enemy.
Q. What kind of response did you receive from the community compared to what was expected?
Elisabeth Cardy: We got absolutely flooded with stories from players from all over! It was a real delight to see so many people sharing their memories of people and moments that are special to them and how Guild Wars 2 has had a positive impact on their lives.
Q. Is this a one-off event or will it come around again next year?
Elisabeth Cardy: The in-game Friendship Tonic will be available to players in February in future years, and we certainly aren’t done celebrating and appreciating the Guild Wars 2 community.
Q. And finally, do you refer to friends met online as “online friends” to more local, in-person friends?
Elisabeth Cardy: Personally, I don’t tend to draw much distinction, and if I do bring it up, it’s normally as a way of giving context to how I know a person. Just like I’d say “a buddy I met in college,” as a lead-in to a story, I might say “a friend I met in Guild Wars 2.”