In Season 9, Episode 3 there was a question about the kind of relationship you have with the people you play with. Is it transactional or is it really a friendship. I know in the west Guanxi is synonymous with cronyism, which is a gross misrepresentation.
I follow the saying, a friend is someone who you can call and help you move. Basically a friend is someone you can call when you have some problems and could use their time and company just to give an idea for what constitutes as a friend. Given how I am very helpful, one can figure that I treat many people as a potential friend, especially when they seem reciprocative.
In the culture here, you will have problems if you treat such relationships as a "transaction", or you really don't cultivate the relationship beyond gaming. This relationship extends to developing a professional and personal relationship with your coworkers, and your vendor. The way people treat their favorite restaurant and haunt as a friend.
Suffice to say I invited all my gamer friends to my wedding, and gave them three tables of ten.
This relationship cultivation is hard and has deep roots. There is not much trust going around, there are many tricksters, users, and abusers. There are also people who really don't get relationships and don't care much for the other person. So the strategy is that, we get to know who we deal with, and if they are good people cultivate a relationship. This is not to gain any discount, although some freebees may happen (my doctor friend won't take my money when I consult him, and he is the best in his field here in the philippines) but we want to be able to know in that we are dealing with someone who wants good for us.
Malice happens, people who just happen to want bad things to happen to other people. There are those who would taint your drink or food, there are those who give a bad deal (like the seller in alfredo's airsoft supplies in Quiapo) offering you a higher price arbitrarily, and those who will try to cheat you. Getting to know the person you deal with, has the same Cognitive Bias (association bias) we have when we judge a person by their morals or ethics, making us think: do they act the same way with our relationship with them.
Personally I like to get to know more people, even if my mind's memory capacity can't handle it. I really miss hanging out and bull$#!+ing like back in college, and find myself being alienated by the things I study and learn. Its nice to know more real people to be grounded and find out their stories. Listening to happy jacks and the anecdotes, reminds me of how lacking of interesting stories I can share in my life.
Guanxi is not cronyism. It is dealing with people who we can trust, and we have problems dealing with strangers who say they have X motives and intentions. Someone we can trust, and we are sure may have good judgment in the matter, can lend their credibility to another person to meet another party's approval. Its not just the merits of a person, because this is the real world and you have to really question a lot of things, and we process these with certain assumptions we can trust - one of these trustworthy assumptions is the referral of someone we trust.
It also happens, that someone we really trust knows this may be a mutually beneficial relationship for the two relationships they have. Their endorsement speeds along the analysis process, anyway precautions are easier to communicate and to take are speedier communicated with a 3rd party to bridge two unfamiliar parties together.
i got to thinking a lot about this because of Politics and Social Challenges for my Games and the tricky matter I have in my work. My wife was relating a networking event and how it is so important to go through the getting to know process.
I realized, people who cared a lot about their credibility already do a lot of filtering and try to improve their certainty regarding a situation.
tl:dr - we try to build friendships with the people we like to game with almost always.