Online gaming is expanding players’ social lives, new research claims.
Researchers at North Carolina State University, York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology said video gaming does not replace a player’s social life, instead it augments it.
“Gamers aren’t the antisocial basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes, they’re highly social people,” said Dr. Nick Taylor, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and lead author of a paper on the study.
“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,” Taylor said.
Researchers travelled to more than 20 public gaming events in Canada and the United Kingdom, from 2,500-player events held in convention centres to 20-player events held in bars.
The researchers observed the behaviour of thousands of players, and had 378 players take an in-depth survey, with a focus on players of massively multiplayer role-playing games such as EVE Online and World of Warcraft.
The researchers were interested in tracking the online and offline behaviour of gamers, focusing on how they communicated with each other. They found that gaming was only one aspect of social behaviour at the gaming events.
“We found that gamers were often exhibiting many social behaviours at once: watching games, talking, drinking, and chatting online. Gaming didn’t eliminate social interaction, it supplemented it,” Taylor said.
“This was true regardless of which games players were playing, and whether a player’s behaviour in the online game was altruistic. For example, a player could be utterly ruthless in the game and still socialise normally offline,” Taylor said.
The researchers also found that gamers did not distinguish between the time they spent playing games and the time they spent watching other people play games.”It all fell under the category of gaming, which they view as a social activity,” Taylor said