Social gaming: Are we playing the game or getting played?

Online gaming has changed how some communities socialise and interact.  Especially in times such as these where some societies are housebound or unable to conduct face-to-face catch-ups, online gaming allows “for individuals or groups to participate in a leisure activity while practising physical distancing” (Bergstrom 2021). However, although this has allowed individuals to socialise and interact with one another, it has also caused an influx of novices to these gaming platforms. These novices aren’t as well versed in the anti-social elements of gaming surrounding gender and misogyny, trolling, and pwning, which involves attacking those new to a particular gaming environment, leading them to feel threatened, have an impact on mental health and also enables themselves to be taken advantage of.

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A 2014 study conducted in “Computers in Human Behaviour” found that increased social online video gameplay and a decrease in in-person socialisation was found to correspond with smaller, and lower quality, social circles. As mentioned, these environments also have anti-social elements which could negatively impact the mind and wellbeing further. Is this push to socialising online leading us down a path we can’t come back from? This also leads me to my next topic of discussion and that is with these now isolated individuals can larger gaming cooperation’s take advantage of these people?

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A large game that has found itself in scams and scandals is EVE. “EVE Online is a space-themed massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), with over half a million subscribers, and actively encourages player participation in-game management, with a player council, the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) and an active fan forum” (De Zwart and Humphreys 2014). This game although it sounds like any other game thrives off scamming players, abusing others, and just outright encouraging bad behaviour. I would like to link you to this other blog that goes in a more in-depth look at EVE, “Top Five Problems with EVE Online”. An environment where there are no safeguards in place by developers, invites and encourages those that are inclined to prey on vulnerable people to do so with ease.

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There are positives to online gaming and its ability to allow us to connect while apart. However, the aspect I always find hard to justify is the antisocial behaviours surrounding gender and misogyny, trolling, and pwning. Do there need to be more safeguards in place to promote good societal values, do we need to educated individuals better in online environments? With time we will reach this but at the moment I feel we have some work to do.

References:

Bergstrom, K 2021, Anti-social social gaming: community conflict in a Facebook game, Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol 38, pp. 61-74.

de Zwart, M. & Humphreys, S. 2014, “The Lawless Frontier of Deep Space: Code as Law in EVE Online”, Cultural Studies Review, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 77-99.

Kowert, R, Domahidi, E, Festl, R and Quandt, T 2014, Social gaming, lonely life? The impact of digital game play on adolescents’ social circles, Computers in Human Behavior, vol 36, pp. 385-390.

2 thoughts on “Social gaming: Are we playing the game or getting played?

  1. Hey Gabrielle,

    Really interesting blog and great title! I agree, there needs to be some kind of crackdown in how we behave online. During the midst of the pandemic myself and two mates played some games online to be able to keep in touch as we are all in different states – only to be so comprehensively beaten by no doubt a bunch of kids. And I must admit, the misogyny and racism that was prevalent from the other players was so bad. Cleary feel the need for some more moderation or identification among users.

    At the same time, there are some truly great communities out there, and platforms such as Discord can be really good in facilitating more welcome environments for games.

    Cheers
    Scott

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience and also thank you Scott for sharing Discord! I hadn’t heard of this before, what an amazing step for our online gaming society in preventing vulnerable audiences from being targeted or preyed upon in online gaming spaces.

      Like

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