It was typical week night for Ian Bobbitt: he had just finished eating dinner and was planning to play some World of Warcraft before hitting the books. A physics major at Cal Poly San Luis Obipso, Bobbitt admitted WOW was his guilty pleasure, and needed a break after a long day of classes. He signed onto the multiplayer online role-playing game and delved into the magical medieval world, never once expecting what would happen later that night.
All Bobbitt knew was that a girl named Ashley left her "clan" to join his during the game, and when he and the rest of his teammates met later via Skype, everyone eventually signed off except for him and Ashley. They continued talking long into the night, and though he said they had a great conversation, he did not think much of it at first. "I never expected to get a girlfriend out of playing WOW," Bobbitt said. "Very few girls play it and since people play from all over the world, the distance would be a major hindering factor."
But in the coming weeks, he and Ashley began to talk whenever they were both online at the same time. The talking eventually turned into flirting, and before he knew it, they were Skyping with each other nearly every single day. When Ashley finally made it clear that she had feelings for him, Bobbitt said he felt the same, but admitted he was slightly reluctant: "I was hesitant to make the relationship official at first because she lived in Washington and the distance made it seem less desireable," he said. "But in the end, I thought, 'Why not?' I figured we could make it happen, or at least try."
Four months had flown by when Ashley suggested they meet in person. She told him which weekend would be best for him to make the trip to Seattle, and Bobbitt made the arrangements accordingly. Ashley picked him up from the airport, where Bobbitt admitted that they hugged a little awkwardly and then shared their first kiss. "I was super nervous and scared because I was meeting a girl I had only seen and talked to over the Internet," Bobbitt recalled. "That can be pretty intimidating." But after the nerves wore off, everything seemed to improve: "Since we had been talking over Skype for so long, it wasn't too awkward and she was easy to be around," he said. Over the three weeks they spent together, Bobbitt said the best part was really connecting with Ashley in a way that was not possible over the Internet.
However, Bobbitt said the relationship became more difficult to maintain after he returned to California. "It was almost harder after we met in person because it was like getting to know someone, but feeling like you were never there…When we had disagreements it was harder because I couldn't do much to make her feel better or make it up to her in person, like bringing her flowers," he explained. They dated for eight months, during which they faced their ups and downs, as the distance exacerbated nearly every argument. Although they took turns visiting each other multiple times throughout the relationship, the distance eventually took a toll on their relationship. "It just got to point where the bad times outweighed the good, so we decided to call it quits," Bobbitt said.
Even though their relationship ended, Bobbitt and Ashley remain good friends, and he said he has no regrets. There is still some stigma surrounding the world of online dating, but it has expanded to include games, forums, etc. Finding a significant other online no longer consists of just going on dating websites to find one's potentially-perfect match. Bobbitt easily created an elf avatar, went on missions around a medieval world and found himself a partner in the process. And though he did not began playing WOW in hopes of meeting someone online, he said he is not opposed to the idea: "I'm not against trying online dating, as long as the person lived closer to me," Bobbitt said. "You never know how you're going to meet the One, and I wouldn't be embarrassed to say I met her over the Internet."