During last week’s class, there was a session in which Professor Parham played the text-based online game Cat Simulator 3000 as the class watched. It was interesting to observe the dynamic between Parham and us during her gameplay.
I noticed a high level of engagement between us and Parham. Although we were not playing the game, we were just as invested as she was in making decisions about what actions her cat should take. The cat wasn’t just Parham’s; it was ours. We suggested whether her cat should take a nap, eat, or play as Parham scrolled through the choices on this text-based online game. It seemed as though we were also playing the game, with Parham serving as a conduit through which our decisions were implemented in the game.
This experience made me reflect on the social benefits of gaming. We are all familiar with the stereotype of the gamer as a recluse. Although this stereotype does have some validity, isolation in gaming is now an exception instead of the norm. With the internet, we can virtually engage with gamers from various backgrounds. Moreover, games such as Pokémon Go encourage physical interaction with other gamers as a component of the gaming experience. Hopefully, this trend continues. In a world where people feel increasingly alienated, videogames can become a medium through which people can form meaningful bonds with each other.