I was picked out of the crowd and placed in a bunch I've never seen before. Square Enix' Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn made a showing at E3 2014 and had a battle challenge where random teams of eight attendees tested their might against the great primal: Leviathan HBNQEM (Hard but not quite extreme mode and yes, they told me that's what it was). The brave souls who succeed take home a fancy 'I Beat Leviathan' t-shirt. However, the great primal of the deep is not the ultimate threat; it's who you were likely partnered with that caused more trouble.
That first paragraph may seem cynical, but it turns out I would go on to enjoy my real life duty finder experience. As a member of the press, I always had to be inserted into groups due to appointment restraints. As an individual, I'm an experienced veteran of FFXIV; infact, I have the Leviathan encounter on farm so whichever group happened to scoop me up will be guarunteed at least one decent player. As for the nature of the event, most people haven't even played the game which is troubling on the surface, but watching their face light up when they do something right? Priceless.
In more than a handful scenarios, my team was brought down by the all-powerful timer, often being just shy of the kill by a few slivers of health. Those moments when everyone around you is screaming to push the DPS reminds me of a time when games were played on the couch, next to your friends. Yea, I get those literal experiences on Skype and Teamspeak, but it's not quite the same as giving the person standing next to you a fistbump (or a hug).
Over the course of my E3 week, I've failed the Leviathan fight six times despite having a fun-loving group of people in every attempt. To finally win, it took an enthusiastic group of gamers who a) never played FFXIV before, b) didn't play MMOs in-general, and c) placed me on a job I don't even play (warrior). But boy where they enthusiastic. They yelled at what to do, kept each other motivated, and made sure to listen to the calls I made. We wiped with 8-minutes on the clock. However, for those final few minutes, magic happened and we got a flawless victory with 20-seconds remaining. Those extra seconds, and then some, were spent performing high-fives repeatedly to one another.
Looking back at my social experiences at E3, I wish all my random groups on the live servers --on any game for that matter -- could be what I experienced at the event. It's sad when toxicity is shrouded by the anonymity of the internet. To think, all those toxic players might be super nice and very epic in-person. What a world we live in. Who knew it is actually fun to socialize?