The Social Game

After seeing the class’s reactions to live Never Alone game play, I thought back to the Professor’s comments on their rules for when their kids play video games, with the primary one being that they need someone else there as well. The experience of having someone else nearby, sharing the narrative of the game, as well as the narrative of you playing the game, adds something that otherwise can’t be reached when playing alone, social interaction. Granted, online games technically offer social interaction, but with complete strangers who you will most likely never meet again, which often produces interactions we’d all be better off without. When you play with others in the room, though, even if it is only a single-player game, there is an aspect of social play that brings you two together. Whether they’re rooting for you to finally beat that boss, or judging you for falling down that pit for the sixth time, the interaction between player and viewer creates a bond that in my case has been a large part of how my siblings and I grew up. One of us would pick up the game, and another would nearly always be there to watch. With this in mind I wanted to know how the rest of the class felt about these experiences, whether they, too, experience this sort of ‘social gaming’ with their friends or family, and how they think it might benefit or detract from the gaming experience.

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2 thoughts on “The Social Game

  1. I really like that you are beginning a conversation around community building and gaming. What I see gaming doing is giving players and audience members in the same space an activity in which everyone can partake in. When people can see others playing games and experiencing the same frustrations, anxieties, or something to this effect they have means to relate to one another. Consequently, people may begin to form relationships they may not have done without the presence of a game. Games to me, can be a mechanism to help us bridge social divisions. That being said, online video gaming may actually be threat to community building. We lose face to face interaction as you have noted. As a result, people miss out on the opportunity to use a game to move beyond the social divide. Although online gaming creates a community it is not one I think has long lasting effects. For example, When players can see one another in the room they may be more inclined to have conversations about the gameplay experience. In contrast, when one plays online with others there may not be much conversation around the gaming experience. In fact, I recall most online players not talking to each other over headsets. However, when they do it’s usually to personally attack another player not to discuss the gameplay as a whole. Thus, I wonder if online gaming is a threat to community building? In my opinion It’s a bit surface and to cultivate stronger bonds we should hold on to more effective community building strategies.

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  2. When I tell this to people, they often are surprised, but I am a huge proponent of social gaming, in that I think I vastly prefer watching my friends play games to actually playing them. I will spend untold hours watching my brother play Skyrim, or The Last of Us, or Crypt of the NecroDancer, or Lugaru, or any number of games, and though I do enjoy and am good at them, I find it much more engaging and interesting to be the outside observer and critic.

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