When looking at the word gamer many people would picture someone who sits around for most of a day, staring at a monitor with empty wrappers littered around them as they yell into a communication mic while ignoring what goes on outside or around them. A gamer is usually thought of not to have many friends and practically no social circle. However this extreme outlook is wrong in most cases. The questions I address: are online videogames a good source of social interaction and are there any drawbacks that affect your ability to socialize offline or online? Additionally, I will look at the community that gamers have created. My argument is that regardless of any negative consequences online videogames will be a positive influence to the passionate.
The authors claim that “”Research has established loneliness as a good predictor of intensive Internet use””(Snodgrass et al. 10). This points to people who use both social media and videogames due to a feeling of loneliness. Additionally, they(videogames) have also shown that you create bonds online through the fun challenges found in games and sharing these experiences with others that play games like yourself. Accurate as yes while you can play videogames alone (has been the case since before playing online was a concept) there isn’t a point if you have the option to play socially as you are still not playing against or with anyone. Players gather together in teams and become closer through the various scenarios and challenges they face in the games, thus having more social interaction then what they normally experience offline. It can be inferred from this that gamers prefer socialization in games because of the higher amount of oppurunities the individual finds as compared to offline. This is caused by players having a more positive experience online then what they encounter in normal day to day life offline. However, this “”lead to a variety of negative consequences for the user, such as declines in the size and quality of one’s offline social circles”” (Kowert, Oldmeadow 556).
However, do not be confused by associating social media and online gaming in the same breath. Though both activities are online, they have obvious differences, with online videogames being able to let people use avatars as mediums to see each other, talk, use emotes (certain commands to make your avatar wave, make funny gestures, wink and much more), and overall have more of a physical presence in an online conversation. However more important is the gameplay, as it is more immersive than anything social media can provide. Social media like facebook, twitter, and snapchat allow you to simply talk, message, along with facetiming and photo sharing. Gameplay is more immersive due to having to think critically, make snap decisions, as well as be presented with similar scenarios you’d have to deal with in real life. According to information found by the authors:
Internet-based social spaces have come to be branded as “”pseudo communities”” that provide a superficial sense of social support and displace the time that could be spent fostering meaningful offline relationships by disrupting the time allocated for offline social activities.(Kowert, Oldmeadow 556) It can be plausibly argued that due to the immersion and the act of going through these scenarios that lead to a closer and more interesting community as compared to social media.
What both subjects (media and online videogames) have in common however, is that generally your time could have been put to better use in furthering your real-life relationships among family and friends. In addition, there is correlation in how much commitment gamers put into teamplay and the game itself that affect their mood and social circles even within online actions.
For example, becoming intensely involved in videogames does not benefit someone playing casually, as the authors “”hypothesize that becoming more intensively involved in online videogames will benefit lonely gamers, while casual play will not”” (Snodgrass et al. 11). If you play casually your missing out on chances for social bonds online as well as in your offline life. Playing casually is not becoming immersed enough to want to socialize. Casual play is not beneficial, however to the passionate gamer there are positives that will outweigh the negatives of gameplay affecting social skills.
What could positively affect your social life by simply staring at a screen and moving your hands around? Positive effects of gaming that lead to a very rich social life are friendships, social inclusion, and decreased loneliness. Those who are dedicated to the game, more intensely involved, often find themselves rewarded as the drive to show mastery and commitment to gaming grabs the attention of like-minded individuals. As stated by the authors, “”Such demonstrations of mastery and commitment in turn bond them to those gamers, winning them friends and giving rise to greater feelings of social inclusion and support, relieving their felt loneliness”” (Snodgrass et al. 11). For example, showing amazing feats of skill or expererincing something crazy, funny, or anything out of the ordinary, cause gamers to: express gratitude or their amazement, random players on the team talking to you, expressing their amazement, and leading to new personal contacts potentially. In addition to enabling contact between others it allows you to share experiences and stories of past glory and moments, much as how you would compare athletic and other personal achievements between friends and acquaintances. Again, by demonstrating such levels of mastery and winning friends among the community it satisfies the feelings of social inclusion and support, thus relieving any loneliness.
People playing videogames socially should not be very surprising. According to Hudson and Cairns study’s:
the numbers of people playing socially should not be so surprising. It has been identified as an important component of why people play games in the first place. Furthermore, social play fulfils a more wide-reaching human need to feel related to one another. (1) Humans have long been identified as social creatures, we crave to have others to talk to, share experiences, and seek advice. Videogames allow a space to be made that allows this vital social experience to happen, and though not physically present, knowing there is a person there and hearing there voice is more often then not more then enough to make up for the lack of physical real life presence.
Videogames have a large influence on the social circles you associate with, however another aspect of your life affected that is tied with your social life is your self-efficacy. “”The concept of self-efficacy, that is, the resolve in one’s ability to manage a task”” (LEE RIM HYE, JEONG JUN EUI 1476). Additionally, self-efficacy can be further divided into two types, game self-efficacy, and life self-efficacy. The determination in your ability to manage or solve a task influences how well you do when confronted with the object or objective your confronting. Additionally, it makes up a large chunk of your confidence when faced with the situation, familiar or unfamiliar.
According to the authors, “”Game self-efficacy refers to a player’s confidence in his or her ability to use games”” (HYE, EUI 1476). This confidence in your gaming ability is influenced by a variety of events and actions that boost life efficacy, basically building confidence in games from positive events offline that happen. The authors write that “”Life self-efficacy is drawn from a generalization of self-efficacy and is one’s belief in your ability to successfully interact with real-life situations”” (HYE, EUI 1476, 1477). Life efficacy shares how it is influenced with reasons that similarly affect game efficacy, with game efficacy influencing life efficacy. It is a plausible that features of both game and life efficacy differ from player to player, as people are different, thus will have different influences and motivations. Additionally, with this information it is apparent that these tie into each other, life efficacy influencing your confidence in your skill in games(game-efficacy), either positively or negatively. Lastly your level of game efficacy feeds into your life efficacy (confidence in confronting real-life scenarios), either positively or negatively. These connections ultimately influence your attitude for social interaction and usage of videogames.
After an amount of time has passed, differing between individuals, there eventually begins to be hole you notice, a drive for motivation in the games, for deeper commitment and allegiance, and that is where gaming clubs, clans, and teams come in. According to Hongs et al.’s study, a “”sense of belonging is a key motivation in joining a clan, as are mutually shared victories and upgrading one’s own or clan’s ranking or level”” (878). There are a variety of these groups that exist for any game and goals often differ, some offer simply to be a gathering place for individuals to find others to play with while more serious gamers look to the competitive side of these groups. In addition to casual gamers there are a number of gamers who seek the thrill of a hierarchy and competition. The hierarchy ranks differ but most use military ranking to differentiate the competency or member status, either from merit or seniority. According to Hong et al.’s study, “”Some expert players show nurturing behavior toward new members of the clan”” (878). Those who are more experienced in games often take on roles of teaching various things to beginners and sometimes those who learn teach others, even those who are new can teach something that even experienced gamers are not aware of, thus a teacher-student relationship is often assumed among those in clans. These organizations allow gamers to feel wanted, valued, and have a sense of comradery/friendship among each other. According to Reer and Kramer’s study:
It can be argued that online gaming communities like clans and guilds constitute a persistent social enviroment that exists beyond the game and enables social encounters and interactions among players. Accordingly, several authors pointed out that many first-person shooter clans do not only aim at professionalizing gaming and making competitions easier, but also fulfill social functions.(384)
It can be plausibly argued that online gaming communities like clans and guilds make a persistent social environment that exists beyond the game and enables social encounters and interactions among the player base. Gaming organizations are not always about being competitive as most are home for players simply out to have fun, thus clans are often made up of befriended players, and if living close by, they can meet up and spend time together offline. In addition to counter-acting supposed negatives of offline social life being negatively affected, clan members are often closely knit even if they have not had much contact, as when serious events in a member’s life happen you have many step forward through closer friends and express their support to you. For example, giving support and advice in the event of family emergencies alongside support against bullying online. In minor cases of cyber bullying it is simply someone more experienced having their fun defeating weaker, more inexperienced players and calling them names negative names. In major cases it involves more serious actions such as having your account hacked and information stolen. In the minor cases you can rely on more skilled members to back up the less experienced members while in cases of hacking it is encouraged to have everyone in the group report the hacker through official channels.
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