Strengthening Friendships Through Multiplayer Games

While exploring the world of multiplayer games this week I noticed that, while I’ve heard a lot about how these kinds of games work to help players create friendships with the people they play with, I don’t hear as much about how well they allow you to deepen already existing relationships. As a person who prefers to play these games with friends I already have over using them to make new ones, I was very intrigued when it was brought up in game club discussion that others also thought that these games hold a great deal, if not more, potential for current friends not made within the game to bond through them. With that in mind, I’d like to try and review a few different examples of multiplayer games from this perspective.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is a game that I’ve played with friends and family for several stretches of time. I think it’s a very good game to deepen pre-established friendships though, with a few restrictions. It’s easy to add your friends if they have a account, and friends are easy to locate if you’re on the same server via the world map. A solid way to play with a friend regularly is to start new characters together in the same or neighboring areas, and start questing together. If you manage to remain at nearly the same level as you play, you can progress really smoothly together and have fun exploring, levelling up, fighting through dungeons, or getting into the role-play elements of the game. It can be difficult otherwise, though, to quest or run dungeons together if the gap between your characters is too large. Depending on how many characters you’re playing and how high their levels are, this can be awkward to manage for a more casual player. In addition, if you want to remain at similar levels you can’t play that character without your friend. WoW does allow you to create up to 10 different characters in the same realm though, so this isn’t as much of a restriction on playing with friends. Sometimes it’s been feasible to use a higher level character to accompany a friend getting started though their lower-level quests, or it can be fun to just briefly visit wherever your friend is when you notice you’re playing independently at the same time. The game also features a necessity for teamwork in areas like dungeons and PvP zones. 

Realm of the Mad God

I tried this game for the first time this week and had mixed feelings about it, I think particularly because I was looking at it from a place of wanting to enjoy playing it with my housemates. The gameplay of Realm of the Mad God was a little overwhelming for me. The environment is very loud since it still has a large player base, and you’re almost always in combat against a large number of enemies unless you’re in the Nexus. I found it hard to keep up with my friends sometimes because the gameplay is so fast-paced, and got lost sometimes in the mass of other online players and enemies on the rather large map. It was easy to lose each other in the chaos of busy servers, areas, or boss fights, which made me feel a bit disconnected until we could coordinate a way to meet back up. In its favor Realm of the Mad God does have useful features for locating friends and reconnecting with them, like the ability to teleport to any other player on the map at any time. It also provides a space to jump in for a brief period of time to run through small dungeons and most combat scenarios benefit from teamwork between players. Level differences don’t matter too much in this game so long as you’re under max level unlike WoW, so as long as all of you have characters of some kind you can experience most of the early game together. Overall I think this game was hard to play with friends sometimes, but was really good at bringing you into the collective madness and making you feel like a part of a larger effort with strangers (with the level 20 boss fight against the mad god as an example of that).

Ultimate Chicken Horse

Ultimate Chicken Horse is unique on this list as the only game that isn’t prominently online. It’s still a multiplayer game, and one that I think is excellent at creating bonding experiences for friends. To start, it’s a good game to have quick, fun, friendly competition with. The game feels as goofy and playful as its art style, since players can mess with each other or collaborate to build challenging and entertaining obstacle courses. Whenever my friends and I play Ultimate Chicken Horse we laugh a lot, which I think is a good indicator that a game is conducive to bonding. It’s also not a super intense game, and the difficulty scales with how players choose to design the obstacle course, so the stakes feel low and the atmosphere doesn’t often feel too serious. Each instance of gameplay is independent too, so you can use Ultimate Chicken Horse easily to bond with multiple groups of friends (or the group of friends can evolve over time and still play this game together without losing much continuity).

Among Us

Deception games like Among Us have always interested me as a social bonding experience. They’re a fairly popular game genre among friends, yet the whole point of them is to withhold information from and deceive your friends if you aim to win. I’ve definitely had fun playing Among Us and games like it with friends, though I don’t know how I would describe what it offers for the purposes of deepening relationships between people. I get the feeling that it has to do with the fact that part of the game is being able to read the other players and get a sense of whether they’re lying or not (which could be easier or more interesting if you know the people you’re playing with). On YouTube especially I’ve gotten the impression that Among Us has been a game that brought streamers who might not have known each other much before closer together. The large amount of opportunities to encounter each other across instances of play because the games are fast certainly seems like it would contribute.


Minecraft is another multiplayer game that I think is good at developing friendships further. There are so many ways to play Minecraft, and one of them is bound to suit the taste of a group of friends. Friends can create art or impressive mechanisms together in creative mode, engage in daring PvP play, or work together to stay alive in survival mode. I’ve found Minecraft to be a wonderful place to build and design a collective space with friends and make it your own. My friends and I have created fun home bases, and enjoyed setting out to explore our own randomly generated Minecraft world together. Most of these ways to play really benefit from teamwork as well, which offers more opportunities for bonding. I think these might be some reasons that multiplayer play on Minecraft is so popular, even years after its release.

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  1. yes! I like all of these… I wish you had a final paragraph that sums up your learning. i.e. the more structure, the less room for play and connection between existing friends (if that’s your point… I cant tell if you don’t tell me!)

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