The Young and the Digital

This week’s reading We Play: The Allure of Social Games, Synthetic Worlds, and Second Lives by S. Craig Watkins (2009) argues how we as a society not just rely on face- to – face acquaintances to form friendships but we are now looking further, using online gaming to form the basis of lifelong friendships.

Although video gaming has been popular since the 1970s it is only in recent times that it has become a phenomenon and according to Entertainment Software Association “U.S. computer and video game software sales grew six percent in 2007 to $9.5 billion” showing that it is now the social norm to have a gaming console, therefore providing us evidence that the queries we have over online friendships is worth questioning.

We are a generation of active rather than passive audiences; therefore gaming fulfils our need to be interactive. Games have adapted to suit modern times, from single player to multiplayer allowing new friendships to be built. Throughout the reading Watkins focuses on a number of students of who share their thoughts about how gaming is now a social activity. Chase, an avid gamer, plays games not just for fun but claims that they “provide a community aspect and a way to connect to people”, thus allowing people to be part of something with others who share the same interests.

The link below from The Guardian supports this weeks reading, it describes how “social networks don’t replace offline friendships, or turn users into basement- dwelling zombies, unable to converse face- to- face” showing that maybe how we can communicate online and perhaps making us more confident in real life situations.

The argument that Watkins has raised is of something that we can all relate to, gamers or not we all involve ourselves with online platforms where we can communicate with either existing friends or where it has the possibility to make new ones. Furthermore we use technology not for what it is, but its ability to connect with those we may never meet in our lives but can share a portion of it over the web. Although there are many suggestions on how gaming has the ability to ruin social lives I feel that it can bring the most timid person out of their shell and help them become sociable.

 world joystick

Kirsty Paine


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