From a comment on an earlier entry by me:
“The thing that makes me doubt these stories the most is the sheer improbability of encountering anyone else on your server, let alone anyone you’ve fought before. However, it has been known to be a small world.”
Agreed. It’s near improbable in a completely random environment. However, there are limits to that randomness. First, Blizzard is known to suggest realms based on IP blocks and server availability. Today’s 60s joined the game before the big new server rollout, so two people living in close proximity (Foster City, for example) away from decent DSL, are very likely to be on the same Comcast netblock and likely to have been assigned to the same server.
Secondly, Stormrage (my server) was the first retail PvE server. Lots of Silicon Valley dwellers were early adopters of WoW, and would have, if they chose PvE, would up on one of four servers. Combined with above mentioned IP…
Thirdly, as Joi Ito shows, and as my guild, Pride, shows, in-game societies often are bled into by, and reflect up on a subset of Rl networks. I came into WoW trough a friend who was on Stormrage already, and has many RL friends on the Alliance side of the server. I swapped to Horde after leveling an Alliance, dragging more people I knew IRL into the game, some of which dragged others in, who then either rolled Alliance or joined us.
To underline this, of the nine officers in my guild, four live in Silicon Valley and I only knew one before WoW. Since then I’ve met the other two, but this was pure chance. If, and this isn’t so far fetched, we both had gone for coffee around 3pm, we would have likely wound up at the same coffee shop, as well, being Sunnyvale isn’t that huge. Not to mention, a psychiatric incident would deliver all four of us into the same psych ward :)