Nearly everything about gaming is social these days
Being called a “videogame nerd” is not an insult, much to the chagrin of the one doing the name-calling. Not so long ago, the general public thought gamers were nothing but kids or adult losers who gamed all day in their parents’ basement and lacked a true social life. For some extremists, that may still ring true, but modern gamers are much more social, and I’m not talking about Farmville or Words with Friends.
We live in a different age now, and despite how much the ones who are out of touch with the videogame industry like to think otherwise, gaming has become far more of a social activity.
Just on the basic surface, the gaming networks of PSN and Xbox Live encourages one to chat with other gamers, connect, share gaming experiences and achievements, and challenge one another. Even Nintendo, whose gaming network is a few steps behind its competitors, has MiiVerse — it’s own online community of gamers that encourages in-game picture sharing and other player interactions.
Games such as Pokemon, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Super Smash Bros., and others still offer single-player modes, but let’s face it- the online connections are much more fun.
Who else can remember racing in Mario Kart Wii (the first online Mario Kart title) until late at night against just random opponents? Who else deprived themselves of sleep because of their Call of Duty or SOCOM factions, working their way up to legendary status? And I won’t even bring up the addictiveness of League of Legends or Pokémon.
Gaming means a lot to someone like me —a person who suffers from depression and social awkwardness. It is tough for me to make friends in real life for a variety of reasons: lack of self-confidence, shyness, etc. When I begin to suffer from clinically-diagnosed depression, I look to gaming as my social pick-me-up.
I can always find someone on Animal Crossing or Mario Kart 7 to play with, and it takes my mind off of my troubles. I met the majority of my current friends through gaming, either in Facebook groups or gaming gatherings, or even by random matchmaking. Video games have quite literally saved me from succumbing to some pretty deep depressions at times.
Instead of reaching for drugs, alcohol or worse, I reach for a controller.
To say that videogames mean a lot to me would be an understatement, and that is why I am so passionate about gaming in general. And I can’t be the only one who has similar stories and experiences.
The videogame industry receives a lot of unsubstantiated blame. It is often blamed by people wanting a scapegoat for extreme acts of violence, or accused of being a purveyor of bad health by keeping kids inside as opposed to the great outdoors. But video games do more to encourage people to get social than any other medium. So for all those people who belittle gaming and the “damaging effects” it has on people, I say long live video games. It is an industry that shows no signs of slowing down, and that is something I can truly celebrate.