Dear T. L. Taylor
I think that virtual or online worlds mimic real life a lot more than people think they do, especially when it comes to online gaming. The communities for these games are much akin to the different cliques one experiences in high school. The social interactions between members of these different groups online is reminiscent of that. Its interesting to see how the social interactions on these games shape the games themselves, in almost a reversal of what's to be expected. Instead of having an obstacle in the way that can only be tackled by a group, necessitating the formation of that group, the social interactions bring people together first and then collectively they realize they can tackle certain obstacles.
In this sense, I feel that the social interactions of online gaming are similar to real life social interactions, except without the added "comfort" of anonymity. However, as you made aware from your time at the convention, these in game, virtual interactions do not just stay online, they cross the boundaries between the real world and the virtual world, carrying over into everyday life. It was interesting to see how the people at this convention would take everything they knew about the in game, virtual interaction (including the avatar names in place of actual people's names) and cross over the boundary into a real life interaction involving the game.
The closest thing I can think of from personal experience that relates to this is when my friends and I start and manage our Fantasy Football leagues together. The entire thing is done online, with an online team and online interactions, but when we see each other in the real world, that interaction carries over. I think this is the way gaming has changed in the modern day. It is coming out of the basements and into the streets, allowing people to feel more connected more often, giving people a sense of unity, community, and open social interaction.