If you’re like me, you’re a dude or dudette that happens to live thousands of miles away from a majority of your bros. What would have been a bromance killer in less technologically advanced ages is now but an inconvenience that can easily be dealt with by internet savvy purveyors of all things bromanity. That being said, tending the flames of bro maintenance may not be as easy for some as it is for others, which is why I’m here to talk you through the ins and outs of using games to keep in touch with your bros.
Face to Face, Back to Back
I’ve been using games to stay in contact with my bros (both of blood and of the metaphorical sense) since I arrived in Germany over 7 months ago. While it seems like it’d be just as easy to keep in touch via Skype, Google Hangout or Face Time, the fact of the matter is that bros are at their best when coming together for a common cause, mainly battles of epic proportions and similar situations. Could you imagine The Dirty Dozen, The Fellowship of the Ring or The Expendables just sitting around chit-chatting as a means of catching up? Of course you couldn’t, so you can’t possibly expect bros of slightly less impressive caliber to attempt to do the same. Intense friendship + not as intense settings = long and incredibly awkward moments of eye contact.
That is not to say that this bro-opportunity has to be completely consumed by the task at hand as part of bro-upkeep is knowing what’s going on in the non-gaming part of your bros’ lives. This is where game choice is absolutely critical as gaming chatter may get in the way of casual conversation or vice versa. Large group games that demand your undivided attention may not be the best time to ask about your bro’s significant other, job or the realization of their dreams so it’s best to find a title that let’s you dictate the pace. While World of Warcraft raids or Planetside 2 battles may give you the opportunity to bro-out hardcore with a bunch of different bros, strategy and heroic slogans tend to drone out a good heart to heart.
The Happy Ratio of In-game To Real Life
Early on in my long distance bromancing, I realized that I wasn’t actually talking all that much about events outside the game. This became evident when my wife asked me, “So how is so and so?” and I’d only be able to answer her in the context of our recent game session. While it’s perfectly acceptable to have knowledge about what sort of damage output your bro’s character is capable of or how they felt about a recent loot drop, such interactions are shallow and can eventually create a disconnect between reality and the digital world. Once you know more about a bro’s video game habits than his actual life, you’re setting yourself up for the potential of creating a “Gaming Only Bro”, which is a relationship that’s importance lies entirely within gaming. Flexibility is important when fostering relationships with bros.
It is also important to choose games with a voice chat function since typing back and forth can be a hassle, thus making it easier to lose sight of the “catching up aspect” of your game play session. Playing games on Steam is an easy choice as “Steam Voice Chat” is implemented indirectly via the chat window of your friend’s list (just click the downward arrow in your friend’s chat window and select “start voice chat). If you’re not playing with Steam, most games have voice chat and if not, start up any of the voice chat programs mentioned above.
Mouth Breathers Beware
Keep in mind, however, that voice chat etiquette is very very important and can be the difference between the fertilization of a bromance or pooping all over the possibility of continued brohood. Make sure that you wear headphones to prevent echo, keep your mic volume at an appropriate level and if you’re a mouth breather, select the “push to talk” option in settings. There’s nothing worse than errant noise, especially if that noise is the result of moist, snotty oxygen being forcibly expelled every few seconds.
So what should one talk about during these gaming sessions? That depends entirely on you, your bro and how long it’s been since the last time you’ve talked. There are certain things you should probably avoid entirely such as detailed descriptions of recent sexual acts and debate inducing subjects like religion or politics (though you should probably avoid these sorts of things in everyday conversation as well). I game with my brother (who lives in California) quite a bit and usually ask about his wife and kids, which are safe bets unless of course your bro happens to be recently divorced or their kids turned out to be like Damien from the prophecy. Realistically, it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with topics and if it is, you probably weren’t that good of bros anyway.
I hope this has been somewhat helpful to you all, though I’m sure you’re probably fortunate enough to have a bro army within arm’s reach. While I’m happy to enter into new, local bromances, there will always be a special place in my heart for my bros abroad and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep that friendship alive…. whatever it takes.