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Shared Digital Experiences

So I'm sitting here at work, and suddenly found myself thinking about this point that Jerry Holkins from Penny Arcade made a few years back.

I think that what happens is that, when you get, you know, enough people together who have a huge bank of shared experiences—now those experiences happen to be digital for the most part, but they're still filed away. And I mean, we've all had those. Many of our memories are of simulations. Well, those memories are shared like they would be in any culture, and you bring enough of those people together and it forms more or less organically.

Many of you have known me for years, and you know that I can be awkward or aloof when you first meet me. One of the most common things I hear from dear friends is that they thought I hated them, sometimes for years after meeting me for the first time, just because I'm that socially different from most folks. I don't send the right social signals or something. I've heard it often enough that I'm pretty damn sure it's not a fluke or random chance.

In contrast, there are people in my life who I have gelled with almost immediately, and usually those friendships started with discussions of games we both played as kids. I'm a gamer. When I meet other gamers, it's like we grew up in the same small town. Cloud Strife and Samus Aran are friends that we have common. Hyrule was part of our neighborhood, and we were all a part of the Shadow Moses incident. We immediately have a shared culture and a common language, and it makes an immediate difference in the ease of holding a conversation that doesn't come across as awkward or stilted.

Shared Digital Experiences
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