Before you can start a multi-player game you must have a contact or two in your contacts list. If you click the button marked 'Contacts' (at the bottom of the Control Centre) you will see that the list is empty, so the first thing we need to do is add some contacts.
We'll discuss some ways of finding contacts in a moment, but for now let's assume you know that three friends of yours also have Real Mahjong, and that their usernames are Cirrus, Nimbus and London. We'll start by adding Cirrus to the contact list.
In the light blue box at the bottom, type 'Cirrus', and click the Add button.
Cirrus appears in the contact list. Do the same for 'Nimbus'. You will see that Cirrus has a grey icon, because he is offline, while Nimbus has a pink icon because she is 'busy'. She may be playing Mahjong, or she may just not want to be disturbed. Either way she is unavailable.
As both Cirrus and Nimbus are unavailable let's try our other contact, London. Enter 'London' into the box at the bottom and click Add. This time we're in luck — London's icon is green, which indicates that he is both online and available, and you can invite him to a game.
Click 'London' and then click Play. While you are waiting for a response from London the message on the right is displayed.
Meanwhile, London's computer plays a ring tone and displays a message telling him that you've invited him to play Real Mahjong. If he accepts the invitation Real Mahjong will add two 'virtual' players to bring the number up to four, and the game then starts automatically. If he declines the invitation, or just ignores it, the game won't start but the message on your computer changes so you know what's going on.
This is all fine as far as it goes, but it assumes you know the usernames of a few Real Mahjong players to add to your contact list. If your friends play Real Mahjong you can just ask them to tell you their usernames — simple! If you don't know anyone else who plays Real Mahjong, you can find the usernames of existing players at realmahjong.net/people/. Just copy a few into your contact list, invite them to a game, and see what happens — you may even make some new friends!
Please bear in mind, however, that not everyone in the list is an active Real Mahjong player. To remove a player from your list, just select the entry and click Remove.
Your contacts list is also automatically updated to include everyone you play with. If you don't want this to happen you can turn it off on the Setup page of the Control Centre.
To change your status you use the 'status' button at the bottom of the Control Centre. Initially it indicates that you are 'available', and anyone who has your username in their list will see a green icon next to it.
When you click the button your status changes to 'busy', and your icon changes to pink, preventing anyone from inviting you to a game. Click it again and your status changes back to 'available'.
It's a good idea to keep your status up to date, both so you won't be bothered by people inviting you to play Real Mahjong when you're in the middle of something important, and also so they won't have the frustration of inviting you to play when you're nowhere near your computer!