Video Gaming: The Most Social “Anti Social Past Time” I Know of

Posted: January 19, 2011 by CptToffer in Features, General
Tags: , , ,

Hello antiherogamers!

You’ll notice a lull in posts as of late. Don’t panic we’ve not died an early death. Far from it! We are gaining members all the time so make sure you spread the word. The lull in post’s is due to the fact that in under 10 days I’ll be moving house. This is quite naturally one of the more time consuming activites that one can go through, so do bare with us while we make the change, and get the internet sorted. Young Mr Fitz will be on hand with a few post’s so you shall not go wanting! Anyway, onto todays topic:

I’m going to tell you about my feelings on why Video Gaming is the most social “anti social past time” I know of. People scratching their heads at the last sentence should read it again a little slower. Video gaming has long been regarded as an anti social pastime. We’ve all been there: Alone, playing a computer game, family downstairs, girlfriend in the next room. No gamer who regards Video Gaming as a solid hobby cannot say that they’ve not been playing games at some point when there was a chance to do something that, for what many may view, is a more worthwhile use of their time. Many people stereotype gamers as the loner male, wearing glasses, hopeless with women and something of a social outcast. This is an opinion that we’ve all come across at some point. I appreciate that in recent years this stereotype may have softened due to various things, but then that’s part of what I’m here to talk about. Gaming as we know it is changing and because of this it is becoming one of the most social anti social pastimes we know. Let’s take a look:

The gaming industry is growing. This is not unexpected; mostly due to the large boom in popularity of the current generation of consoles. Market researcher DFC Intelligence predicts that by 2015 the industry will be worth over seventy billion dollars. This is an increase of around sixteen percent based on figures from 2009; and while not a huge growth, it is growth none the less. The current consoles are catering for such a wide audience that it is unlikely that these predictions are incorrect. Consoles are affordable; there is large replay value with new accessories such as the Xbox Kinect and the Playstation Move and they are very popular. Kinect in particular has totally obliterated its sales targets. We can go back further from recent times and look at the introduction of the Wii, now entering its fifth year, which has really re-enforced the idea of casual gaming to the living room for many families. Games such as Guitar Hero and Rockband only further strength this argument. Gaming is moving out of the shadowy teenagers’ bedroom and into the light of mainstream; but does that make it more socially acceptable?

The answer to that is a very predictable yes and no. The fact remains that for each casual game (not all of them good!) there are still many more games that use a traditional joypad and involve the things we love best, shooting things, looting and generally becoming immersed within a world totally separate to our own. It’s where gaming started and it is still the foundation for many of the best selling titles today. While these are socially acceptable in their own way; there are people that view them as addictive, violent and a health hazard to the player. This is a totally separate argument and not a can of worms I want to open today, but it’s relevant because as popular as gaming is becoming not all of it is seen as a positive influence, and while they may be correct they cannot state that gaming is antisocial and here is why –

Getting your friends over for Mario Kart is socialising but hardly difficult

Today’s games feature multiplayer as a standard. This has become such a standard that I can only think of two games in the last four years that didn’t have an online component (namely Bioshock and Red Steel 2). Multiplayer games cover such a vast number that it would be impossible to talk about them all but I will say that it’s a lot easier to be social with a console then a PC. Console based gaming not only caters for playing online but is also the easiest way to get some friends over for a session on Pro Evo, Mario Kart, Rockband, you name it and it’s probably happened to you. This does require you to have friends beforehand and if you’re anything like me, I generally have to pay people to include me in activities. (Please note this is a joke, I’m not a psychotic shut in) PC Gaming although very fun, can be a pain for LAN matches unless you’ve got space and patience. However I regard multiplayer PC gaming as possibly the most social gaming aspect of my life in the last seven years.

I’ve been a PC Gamer since I was old enough to stand and was mainly into single player games until the age of seventeen, when I picked up Call Of Duty: United Offensive. This game was a milestone for me, in that it opened up a whole world I knew nothing about. Joining a clan; I met people from all over the world who played this game and had the same love for it I did. We practiced, we fought, we won, we lost and we did it all together. I did this while juggling a normal social life, a girlfriend, having a job and going to University. Not one area of my life suffered for it and I created a new group of friends, many of which I keep in contact with now on a regular basis, despite not playing the game anymore. For those who’ve never been in a Clan, I can only liken it to a more socially recognised team activity, such as a football team. The image of gaming in a clan can again be stereotyped to a group of men with no hope in life, social outcasts to the real world. That stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. I played against and with females, people from all walks of life, who had jobs and families. I spoke to people in France, Germany, America, the Netherlands, even Australia. We swapped stories, we laughed and we had fun. We socialised.

Forming long lasting friendships in this enviroment is more challenging but ultimately more rewarding

Despite no longer playing that game, and the clan itself is now just playing for fun rather than for competitions, I still continue to meet people through gaming online. The camaraderie that recent games such as Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead and Killing Floor, to name but a few, allow strangers to either win and live together, or die and fail alone. I’ve never been so worried about a group of total and utter strangers than I was in Left 4 Dead. Sure the gameplay forces that on you but that’s what it’s all about. This sort of connection has further been enhanced with services such as Steam, a product that has generated a list of friends so long that it rivals that of my non gaming friends. There are people on there that I rarely speak to but then can anyone honestly state that they speak to all of their friends every day? No. You can’t.

As much as I could start retelling moments of true bravery or the experiences I’ve shared with people there is a negative aspect to all of this. Socialising generally means interacting with people and not just in real life, people are not always buckets of sunshine and roses. The negative aspect of socialising in gaming is that people can be very quick to judge, very quick to accuse and equally quick to stab you in the back. While this is a risk with any relationship, there is an obvious detachment in the sense that it is just someone on the end of a computer and not someone you have to see everyday as a simple “block” or “delete” will wipe them from your conscience forever. There are also people who have taken it too far, as with anything in life and have sacrificed real friends for computer based ones, but it’s not my place to state if this is good or bad thing.

Finally I’ll also mention Massive Multiplayer Online Games very briefly as I’m no expert so can’t pass comment on them with any real accuracy. I can surmise that this must be the most social form of gaming simply for the vast numbers of people and style of gameplay it requires. Anyone who suggests that gaming is anti social need only look at the figures of games such as World Of Warcraft which, as of October 2010, has over 12 million users subscribed to it. To put that into perspective; there are only 6 million people currently living in Ireland. That’s 12 million people; using one game. Are they all anti social? I highly doubt it.

Thanks for reading

CptToffer

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Comments
  1. Redd says:

    This post brings back old memories, but onto those later.

    So (in the style of retro Cpt. Toffer clan match reports)…..

    I’m With You In Believing That Gaming Is The Most Social, Anti-Social Thing You Can Do. Console Sessions With Family (Wii/Kinetic) And/Or Friends (All Consoles) Are All Very Social. While The Usually Solo PC Gaming (Through Online Multi-player) Can Be The Most Social Of All Gaming Methods – To Everyone But Those In The Same Room/House As You!

    [enough of the retro CT]

    Online gaming with strangers is socail, with friends even better and then you can always go down the clan/guild route (is guild the right word for WoW, Eve, etc?).

    Other than phyical interaction, there is ‘very’ little difference from football, paint balling, etc. You need people you can get along with to play them, tactics, defence and attack, the ability to think on your feet and react to whats in front of you – all from your PC/console. The joy of winning a ‘competitive’ online game with your team mates is something to be experienced e.g. winning a knockout cup game, playoff’s or even a final. The tension, during these games, complete trust in your team mates and joy of winning together is a VERY social thing.

    And you get memories you enjoyl years later – Here’s an example…….

    Playing Call of Duty United Offensive – FOY CTF Map – as Allies. Me and .I.. are on a Jeep run to the Nazi flag. ..T. and I spot a tank ahead of us. I pause to decide which way to go around. On looking to my side …Z has jumped out of the jeep and is running backwards away from the tank. I ask on comms where F… is going and get girly paniced screeching down my headset. Gotta love social gaming!

    • CptToffer says:

      Hello Redd

      Your bang on the money with what you’ve said. It literally is like playing in any other team activity. My United Offensive memorys will always be the greatest and no amount of time spent gaming, literally thousands of hours since the last comeptitive game will change that!

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