So It Turns Out Gaming Is Integral To Modern Day Youth's Social Lives
I'm sure anyone who's a gamer (or knows a gamer) has heard at least a few arguments against the hobby at one point or another. Gaming, it's claimed, is something reserved for dark basements and dingy bedrooms. It's not the sort of thing sociable people do, and it's certainly not healthy for one's social life...is it?
Yeah, turns out science has struck another blow against the opponents of gaming.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, gaming - particularly online social gaming - could actually just be part of a gamers' social life. Now, before any of you start panicking and claiming that video games are going to turn us all into computer-bound hermits, the study also establishes that gaming doesn't actually replace face-to-face contact with other human beings: it's just used as another means of connecting with them.
The study further found that the behavior of gamers in game - which, to put it lightly, is sometimes enough to qualify as sociopathic - doesn't actually reflect how a gamer behaves in real life. In other words, highly competitive - and hostile - players aren't really the same when they're face-to-face. Of course, this is all stuff those of us who play games more or less knew already.
Researchers looked at gaming events throughout Canada and the UK, studying the behavior of participants and surveying volunteers.
"We found that gamers were often exhibiting many social behaviors at once: watching games, talking, drinking, and chatting online," said Nick Taylor, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University. "Gaming didn't eliminate social interaction, it supplemented it."
"This was true regardless of which games players were playing, and whether a player's behavior in the online game was altruistic. For example, a player could be utterly ruthless in the game and still socialize normally offline."
Another interesting finding is that gamers don't really separate playing and watching games into different social categories. For them, it's all about interacting with the game - and with their friends. That's a far cry from public perception, isn't it?
"Gamers aren't the antisocial basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes, they're highly social people," said Taylor. "This won't be a surprise to the gaming community, but it's worth telling everyone else. Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm."