Are gamers more social?July 10th, 2012 by Paula Lay
I must admit I’m not much of a stereotypical gamer. Or a gamer at all. Does playing Monopoly count these days?
One question that appealed to me in the week of studying digital games is the view of games being a social activity. Here’s something to ask yourself (courtesy of my Uni tutor, Eleanor):
What do you think makes a game ‘social’ – is it the type of game, who you play it with, or something else? (Is there a line between playing and being social, or are they part of the same sort of experience? Do you think that playing some games actually promotes more developed social links with others, for example when a game involves collaborating and trusting others to complete joint tasks?)
Many games involve an aspect of collaboration, and those that do – require tasks to be completed with the aid of others. This builds the social want and need for humans to ‘play’. To ‘play’ with each other I think is the most crucial aspect to what makes a game social. There are games that require collaboration that aren’t very social at all. Here, I point to games such as Farmville or Cafeworld where accruing points in a game involves tending to the ‘farms’ and ‘restaurants’ of your social network friends. They don’t require you to be online at the same time as them – the collaboration is entirely asynchronous. Friends add each other not primarily to keep connected socially, but to build up gaming levels. Social games that are typical of companies like Zynga, are not as all social as they make themselves out to be.
On the other hand, you have games such as World of Warcraft that many non-gamers may pigeon-hole users to be men that don’t get out that much and live in their mothers cob-webbed basement. And maybe some do. But hey, for the most part – this is not the anti-social case that everyone points out to be. There is a thriving and large community of users who work together to achieve common goals and continue to work together on quests, forming friendships as they go. Games work as the common interest for their friendship, but here, games come in as a secondary need – with friendship becoming a strong contender in many Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s).
In both cases, it is not the type of game that fulfills needs. While it may be partly who you play the games with, gaming deep down fulfills the need to play with other people in both in and out of our personal social networks. Gaming fulfills the need to play, socialise and obtain a feeling of significance all at once.