Virtual Social Life

 

Something that has been a topic of controversy in today’s more modern times is the distinct argument of communication vs. videogames. It’s no secret, children like video games; well maybe not just kids, but videogames are largely becoming part of our daily lives. The question therein lies: are video games changing the way we socialize?

In 2002-2003 an experiment was conducted in the United States, where 1,491 children (aged 10-19) were questioned about their time spent playing video games. The results were not what most would think— a concern in lack of communication—but more along the lines of neglecting responsibilities (Cummings, Hope, & Vanderwater, 2007). Not downplaying how serious this is, kids aren’t necessarily becoming anti-social so much as lazy.

With the help of the internet, games are turning towards a more unified game experience for their players. In other words, there are social hubs built into the game itself, where players can interact, and “friend” each other without ever needing to meet or speak. The term now used for the aesthetic study of game-making is referred to as “Machinima” (Picard, 2006). True that it is focused mainly on the art form of game creation, however game technicians and developers seek to give players a more intimate experience. In the Article Machinima: Video Game As An Art Form, a segment from Picard clearly back up the evolution of gaming, “Moreover, Machinima compels the game industry to consider the player’s activities (community), needs (openness) and interests (creativity), beyond the limited vision of the player as consumer.” (Picard, 2006) Virtual environments; teenagers are prone to feeling self conscious and many times consider social experiences a reason to feel anxious. Videogames in today’s day and age allow for a safer, more comfortable testing ground when thinking about outcomes of their decisions. There is solid proof in an experiment spoken about in a paper called *Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens *by Tamyra Pierce. In this experiment the social anxiety levels of adolescent males and females was looked at. The results proved to identify that both parties were much more comfortable interacting with other humans over their preferred devices, experiencing less social anxiety (Pierce, 2009). Technology in this case is helpful to teens at this difficult time in their lives.

In this virtual environment, there’s less room for catastrophe; one can pursue romances, conquer nations, become a great hero, or villain, all in the comfort and safety of a place that isn’t real ( just look at this picture from the game Skyrim). Every gamer experiencing and sharing their stories either online in a single hub, or forums outside the game. Whether this is a good thing for the new generation is completely debatable as it can be viewed by from many perspectives. One thing is certain though, and it is that video games, technology, is indeed changing the way we interact with one another.

Citations:

  1. Cummings, Hope M., and Elizabeth A. Vandewater. "Relation of adolescent video game play to time spent in other activities." *Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine* 161.7 (2007): 684-689.

(2) Picard, Martin. "Machinima: Video Game As An Art Form?." Proc. CGSA 2006 (2006).

(3) Pierce, Tamyra. "Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens." *Computers in Human Behavior* 25.6 (2009): 1367-1372.

(4) Chong, Ian Miles. Skyrim Highest Graphics.jpg. Digital image. 10 Graphical Mods That Overhaul Skyrim’s Visuals. Gamefront, 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.