Cutting-edge trendspotter The New York Times today tackled the phenomenon of MMO-facilitated romance, noting that the subscriber base for World of Warcraft is six times that of

To explain the phenomenon, the Times turned to Ramona Pringle, who studied MMO romance as a producer for the PBS news magazine Frontline. Pringle enlisted the animation director from James Cameron's Avatar to be her World of Warcraft guide and, remarkably, found herself getting a crush on him.

The two have never been romantically involved, yet when Mr. George told her that he would be her knight in shining armor, "I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat," she said, "even though we hadn't met in person."

Other chunks of the feature explain why so much love is in the air in Azeroth.

• It's convenient: "You can say ‘I love you' and then run away," said one woman who found her husbandt through a Warcraft relationship. ""That moment - ‘Should I tell somebody I love them?' - it's a big deal, right? So to be able to say it and then to disappear is pretty great."

• It's accessible - for the women. The Times notes that "more than 40 percent of online gamers are women, and adult women are among the industry's fastest growing demographics, representing 33 percent of the game-playing population." In other words: Welcome to Texas A&M.


• It satisfies a fairy-tale fantasy. "There's something magical about falling in love with someone just through writing and then waiting for a reply," said one player, Tamara Langman, "a busty gnome with three blond pigtails" in WoW, as the Times describes her. "It's evocative of ancient romances where pen-and-ink love letters were delivered on horseback. Just the kind of forgotten world that Warcraft seeks to recreate in digital space."

Or it could be the last resort for 4.8 million foreveralone.jpgs. Anyway, if you like to cry at weddings, read up.

It's Love at First Kill [The New York Times]