Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Do Games Enhance Sociability?

Now that the semester has started and a new round of EDTEC 670 is underway, it's time to rev up this blog again. What better place to start than this Reuter's article summarizing a recently published study. The key quote:

"'By providing spaces for social interaction and relationships beyond the workplace and home, MMOs have the capacity to function as one form of a new 'third space' for informal sociability,' Steinkuehler and Williams write.

While such sociability won't offer 'deep emotional support,' they add, it has the benefit of exposing players to a wide range of viewpoints and a more diverse social environment."

The researchers based their findings on a two year study of players of Asheron's Call. Without having read the original article yet, I have to wonder about the extent to which the social talk among players had anything to do with the world outside the game. If one becomes a social maven in a simulated world, to what extent do the skills developed generalize to face-to-face interactions?


At 1:26 PM, Blogger edtecnelly said...

I agree with you, it seems most of what I read says that game and computer addiction leads to antisocial behavior.
Here is an article from Washington Post about the alarming rate of game addiction in Korea that states: "an obsession with playing electronic games to the point of sleep deprivation, disruption of daily life and a loosening grip on reality."

I think that furthers the point that their socialization doesn't transfer to reality. I was shocked to see in this article that people have DIED from playing too much. Insanity!
The only thing I hear people talking about games like World of Warcraft is the fantasy world of the game but I have to admit, I haven't played any of the Massive Multi Player games myself.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger fenimore said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger fenimore said...

I found this video interesting about gaming and kids.

It's a little long but documents a parent's concerns about his son's excessive play of a first person shooter game.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Cleocatra said...

As a Second Life dabbler, Iím going to say that a host of complexities exist when we start comparing real to virtual life situations. Second Life isnít a game, at least I donít think itís considered one, as weíre learning, but it is a situation with an ecology with affordances and rules.

One evening I was in second life, a beginner, just moving around, checking it out. I met someone, a male avatar. When he rather innocently started wanting to know about me ( not my avatar) I said to myself, ď this isnít the Ďgame,í this isnít what itís aboutĒ and I teleported away.
The scene could be simulated in the real world, certainly, but each holds its unique affordances, and effectivities. Is teleporting away an analog to walking away? How did the person behind that avatar feel when my avatar teleported away? Did s/he relate his experience to a familiar one?? Should s/he have?
The relevance of this example is that the ďgameĒ was a social interaction. Culture, context, gender, location, situateness all constitute social interactions. My teleporting behavior was based on past real life incidents. Or was it? Thinking about it; no it wasnít. It was based on my intentions for being in SL, which didnít include getting to know some real person. S/he stepped beyond the 4th wall in the game, taking away the fantasy by telling me s/he lived in the midwest. If Iím playing parcheesi, I canít GO TO JAIL.

This brings up an extremely important point about games and social interactions generally and those in VR specifically. They are not universal; they are culturally situated and interpreted. Computer game designers are by and large white, western-oriented males. Gaming software by design is situated in a westernized, male orientation to the world. The social life of women as a group is fundamentally different than that of menís and Americans living southern California interact with each other differently than Chinese living in Bejing. MMOís are different still, and require new paradigms for understanding them.



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