Gaming growing up was always part of my life, from the SEGA Master System to the SNES, then PS1, PS2, and now PS3. But the one big program with playing games so much was that I was never good at socializing. I would have friends but only a few who'd I usually just discuss the latest games but never ever going out to parties or the other fun stuff. Changing from elementary to high school and then eventually university, there was always a change in the group of friends meaning I'd never talk to the guys from the past. But as we grew up and times went by, gaming became less and less of a thing to do for leisure. University was always study study study to make sure I get my grades but sacrificing both gaming and my social life.
I always favored Sony and their systems and will always support them even through their current economic struggle. However, going back into topic, because university was always about putting words and numbers into our minds, pretty much no one in my studies played games. I bought my ps3 some time midway during university and loved the graphical poweress (compared to the jump from previous generations). There were gamers in my class but they preferred the other consoles so we didnt have too much in common when it came to playing online or debating about games exclusive to their respective systems. In the end, there was only one friend who did purchase a ps3, but he too was busy with literature and was always on a tight budget; hence, he would just borrow my games resulting in never really playing online.
Eventually I got bored of playing on my own, yes, there was PSN but as online console gaming was just beginning there was always an awkwardness playing with random people, whereas having friends over is more enjoyable, more lively. That was the other issue with university, everyone came from different areas of the city so it was always a mission trying to get to another's house in addition to managing school and study time. I never pressured anyone to game, as we would just play it by ear and hang out whenever we could. With that in mind, I started roaming around the web and found a site that immediately caught my attention.
I won't name the site just in case but I'm sure most people will know it when I say it was a site that allowed people to watch others play games live as they streamed known as broadcasters. The site is now bigger than it ever was, but was just only in its infancy stage when I joined. I would begin spending more time watching people play and just chat discussing about the games they were playing. The first memorable part was when Killzone 2 released and a broadcaster began to ask for viewers to add psn and join in the multiplayer mayhem to play for hours. It was fun to finish a match and then discuss with other viewers and the broadcaster about it and win bragging rights.
After a few months I had joined a number of other broadcasters, became a moderator, and even started to broadcast myself. We would even purchase certain games to play co-op and dual stream the game on our channels just so everyone gets to watch it from both prespectives. As time went on, we notice that there were a few of us who were always hanging out in the same channels and always had a common interest on PSN games. I decided to start a new group with them, a community that just allowed anyone who enjoyed gaming to join and just participate in events or freely discuss about their thoughts on games. We distinguished ourselves from other groups as we allowed anyone to join, since the existing groups were always picky about new members and only accepted those who would advertise their group. We didn't want that, because we believed that gaming is our paradise and we should be able to enjoy it. Our group picked up really fast gaining members exceptionally fast and moving up the ranks quickly.
The main point is, is that from meeting people through broadcasting and building a strong community, we were able to gain friendship from online gaming and have been friends ever since. Of course, online was one thing and we would always keep things personal and I would never distract myself from friend I know in person to those I chat with online. However, with the Playstation Network, gaming across the globe really changed how we play games. Meeting these fellow broadcasters, you would never have to fear that there is no one to play with online cooperatively, competitively, or even just to chill with as they streamed. Thanks Sony for having free online gaming, and just really changing how games were played via splitscreen to enjoying the full experience with more than "2" players.