Do you all remember installing new games while you were locked inside your houses during the first wave of COVID-19, when we had no clue about our life and death, but our friends and family kept motivating us to find a ray of hope during such unprecedented times. Don’t tell me you didn’t try a new game after your friends forced you to. Games became a way of staying socially connected while making us forget all our worries. Games are not always about winning, they are about enduring good friendships. Families often think their children are sitting alone in their room playing games all day, while they’re actually connecting and spending good time with their friends. With changing times, we have to change our perspective towards games. Gen Z knows their way of interacting and building friendships in the world of video gaming.
In today’s world where every other person is suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, online gaming has emerged as an effective way of staying ecstatic and joyful. Social distancing paved a new way for social media relationships. Gaming industry boomed drastically during the pandemic, pointing towards the helplessness of people who wanted to escape this isolation. So many newbies joined gaming platforms during the pandemic to feel the joy and energy of gaming. However, this tech-savvy generation was already using such platforms for socialization through gaming even before the pandemic arrived.
With increased accessibility to games, the world is coming to know that the importance of games lies beyond just playing. Gamers are aiming to make the world a better place. One such recent example was when gamers’ community came forward to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Video game companies are halting their operations in Russia due to the attack on Ukraine. Such steps show the sense of responsibility that the gaming community shares amongst themselves. There was a time when gamers were called “weirdos” but today they’re called the “heroes”.
How do gamers communicate?
According to the studies based on gamers, researchers have found that gamers not only stay task-oriented during a game but were also seen involved in social or emotional conversations. Gamers said things like “Thanks for the help”, “Yeah, I agree with you”, and “Wow, that was funny”. Such gestures are an example of good social behavior. Such emotional connection helps you get rid of your day-to-day worries. And the frequency of these social conversations was much more than the task-oriented conversations. Many options of communication during gaming include audio calling, video calling, picture sharing and text messages exchange. When gamers become friends, they often connect on other social media as well.
Online multiplayer games are building relationships.
Online multiplayer games are designed to be played with multiple players online. Individuals of such communities share common interest in online gaming. These gaming platforms can give us hints on how our technology in the future is going to look. Collaboration automatically becomes an important aspect while playing multiplayer games, otherwise you will lose the game. Collaboration leads to communication, and communication results in friendships. Social interaction is not only important for playing multiplayer games, rather it helps in forming lasting relationships with gamers.
According to several studies published, connecting with their friends is the best part of gaming for most gamers. This statement is powerful enough to remove the labels such as “isolating” and “anti-social” from the face of online gaming. Moreover, people have found love of their lives online while gaming. Games are a very powerful platform for getting to know strangers from other parts of the world. Don’t you actually get the feel that we are most genuine while playing? I think we are in our truest form during a play. That’s why gaming friendships are so genuine because they know each other so well. Honesty in any relationship is a major factor for that bond to grow, and gamers are genuinely honest. I’ve heard of so many gamers turning their online friendships into marriages. Some celebrate their birthdays and wedding receptions based on a game’s theme. Even a school in Japan held a virtual graduation ceremony based on Minecraft because of the pandemic. Thus games play a very influential role in bringing people together.
Your mother might scold you for playing games but even WHO thinks that playing games can foster your relationship with others. World Health Organization launched a game #PlayApartTogether in association with other gaming platforms to promote social interactions while being physically apart during lockdowns. The aim behind this game was to keep people busy in creative activities and rewarding them with interesting features. Mental health experts stressed on the importance of relationships and networks in these unprecedented times, and luckily they also found psychological and social benefits of gaming. In a Google survey 40% of the new gamers said that they will probably continue playing video games even after the pandemic.
Gaming Platforms as Safe Spaces
Have you ever wondered why people’s online behavior is quite different from their social behavior? Well, there’s an explanation for that. Some people are shy while communicating in person and take time to gather their thoughts while talking, but they get enough time to plan their conversation while interacting over social media. Such introvertish people consider social media and gaming platforms as their safe space, where they can be their real-selves. Gaming platforms are helping people of all communities such as people with autism, shy people, people with depression, and anxiety. On such platforms, people can communicate when they want to and with whomever they like, without being judged. Multiplayer online games give you a sense of being together while physically being far apart.
Twitch, a platform where people can watch other gamers play online, has added a lot more spice in the life of gamers, and gained huge popularity during the lockdowns. In addition to basic gaming, such platforms are also helping special communities of gamers come forward and make an identity of their own. Current examples of such special communities are LGBTQ gamers, female gamers, and gamers who have served in the armed forces. Gaming industry has been dominated by men for a long time and females have felt suppressed since the beginning. According to the studies, many girls play online games under the name of boys because of the fear of being judged and stereotyped. But changing times changed the perspective of people and girls have come forth to establish an identity of their own. People of different race, different ethnicity and different geography are gaining international recognition through such gaming platforms.
Gaming is often considered as a bad habit of the kids by their parents, but the advantages of playing online multiplayer games are lesser known. Arrival of the pandemic made people feel isolated but they stayed sane by playing with their friends. Gaming platforms are helping bring communities together by making them feel a sense of belonging. This is quite an unconventional way of communicating, but is transforming the way we interact with each other. Moreover, it’s assisting people in gaining confidence and enhancing their creative skills. However, excess of everything is bad and we must play only to certain levels that do not affect our health.
What is your stand on social interactions through gaming? Let us know by commenting below.