The video game fad is something that has not been around along, but has made a lasting impression on people of all ages. This impression is not something that is negative, as most people would think, but instead of coming-of-age effect. Playing video games can teach positive socialization skills and building strong relationships. This is a topic I am interested in because I am always trying to find new ways to train or teach others a certain skill without lecturing. Our generation needs to experience and be mobile as they are being taught something new or changing a certain behavior. With the creation of video games there is a whole new area to explore and expand on to create lasting relationships and better socializing skills that people from children to the elderly need to understand. To explain this I will talk about why video games receive a bad reputation, how people are affected by pro-social and anti-social video games, and how positive gaming is used in different settings.
The Games are Guilty
There are endless genres and types of video games out there, that many kids do not need a ride to the store to get access to. The online games or the ones you play on a system have all been categorized under “violent” and “unhealthy” by the older generations. More and more the games are the one to be blamed due to the recent mass shootings done in schools by young kids. According to Grossman, “Kids immersed in violent entertainment can blur lines between reality and fantasy” (10, 2014). Yes, he does make a valid point, but this can be transferred into other areas of entertainment as well. Any hobby people immerse themselves in can cause an obsession and in turn a person has to learn where to stop that line of fantasy.
Video games have a huge effect on relationships in the way they can make or break them. When players play a game, there is a winner and a loser and these roles are assigned also by how the characters are. “The dominator/victim roles are acted out in depictions of relational aggressions as well” (Grossman, 29, 2014). These two roles battle, fight, argue, yell, etc. at each other and that is why people believe this can be detrimental to children’s understanding of acting around others. Video games cannot be the sole reason for aggressive behavior because children can pick this up just from everyday life, especially from parents or other siblings.
Anti-social behavior has also been seen as an outcome from video game playing. “Massive Multi-user Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) are the fastest-growing forms of Internet gaming addiction. This is because they combine customizable characters in a virtual world alongside other live players” (Parido, 2014). Online people form
relationships and friendships, which can be a positive thing if it is controlled and maintained. Everyone still needs human face-to-face interaction and on the other side of video games, they provide the teaching for children to learn socially acceptable behavior and interactions.
Everything Is a Lesson
In today’s world, education is what makes the world go around and what everyone strives to incorporate in every aspect, so why can’t video games do that as well? When children are growing up, they are learning about everything all the time, on how to act correctly and basic socialization. Pro-social behavior is taught in the classroom and parents lecture their children on it, but video games provide the outlet of fun and education to create a positive effect of socialization and relationship building. “Playing a pro-social video game resulted in faster reaction times when identifying strings of letters as pro-social words” (Greitemeyer, 126, 2011). There is a clear link that video games create an effect of pro-social behavior. Pro-social behavior means behavior that is positive, helpful, and intended to promote social acceptance and friendship. Socialization is something everyone strives to have to maintain normalcy. Video games have created that socializing skill we need to practice, but in a way where if you mess up you don’t make a fool of yourself in front of others.
On the other hand, video games do have some part in the negative education of young children and adults. In class we learned that according to the Entertainment Software Association, the gender split of those who play games are 59% male and 41% female and in 2015, consumers spent a total of $23.5 billion on video game sales. This goes to show that there are TONS of video games and they are making a huge effect on people of all ages. Lenhart says, “Nearly 63% of teens who play games report hearing ‘people being mean and overly aggressive while playing’, and 49% report seeing or hearing ‘people being hateful, racist, or sexist’ while playing” (4, 2008). This is anti-social behavior that video game players are experiencing and is the main reason games have a negative connotation. On the other hand, amongst this negative behavior, “85% of teens who report seeing these behaviors also report seeing other players being generous or helpful while playing” (Lenhart, 4, 2008). These video games create virtual real world situations, and the natural instinct to help others comes out when players see others being bullied. When they experience these occurrences in game, there is a high chance that it will carry over to reality. If they see a kid being bullied in school, they can be more prone to stepping up and helping him out because they are on the same “team” per say.
It is difficult to define play, especially play that is educational, “According to one theory play constitutes a training of the young creature for the serious work that life will demand later on” (Huizinga, 97, 2006). Preparing young minds for the future is society’s main goal and this is now being put into every educational setting.
You get a game! You get a game! And you get a game!
Schools, hospitals, corporate offices and your average home all have some sort of video game incorporated in the everyday life. This is because the activity gets everyone involved and at least doing something to train or learn in a more efficient way. Pippa Tshabalala’s Ted Talk, Video Games and Social Change, she says “Interactivity can often communicate points in a more effective manner than traditional media communication… Interactive experience has the potential to leave a greater lasting impact on the player especially since you aren’t just passively viewing it.” Below is a snippet of her Ted Talk and that discusses why activity engaging in a video game helps a player better understand a concept.
In a previous blog post, I discussed how hospitals are utilizing video games to train the staff on emergency procedures, basic precautions to take, and more. It is important to highlight and expand on the pressing issues and ideas going on in the real world. Movies, music, and other media can only go so far since the person engaging in it doesn’t have direct control on what is happening. Socialization is an important lesson to teach others in all settings from young to old. Socialization does not stop when children are done being children, those in nursing homes have reported to be depressed and anti-social because they are tucked away on their own. A study wanted to bring in video games into a nursing home setting and see what effects it is, so the Nintendo Wii was incorporated into daily life with the residents. Keogh says, “Potentially the most important theme emerging from the semistructured group interview of the current study was the increased and enhanced social interaction, with this being described not just in relation to playing the games but also when watching others play. Such reported improvements in socialization from both the RAC resident and staff perspectives further support the use of qualitative research in this domain” (241, 2014). Socialization is important to enforce to all ages, and that is why this is a huge video game effect.
A video explaining how video games is a social facilitator amongst teens, from the YouTube channel ckolsonscd.
College is something all of us can relate to and understand how scary and hard it is to leave home and start new. Video games, specifically virtual worlds, give some students who have difficulty socializing and outing to blossom because they find other students with similar interests. Moverley says, “The reason for this is because even though the settings, locations and characters are virtual and fictional, interactions with other players within the game are real and stimulate a far greater emotional response- some positive and some negative” (2012). Within virtual worlds, relationships are built and socialization grows because maybe their preferred method of social interaction is not at a party but at their computer talking and working with others to complete a mission or task.
Pokemon Go has been the most recent video game to earn so much attention in getting players active and social. A post on Cinema Blend, Why Pokemon Go Has turned me into the most social form of myself, says “I’ve never experienced a game like this before that had me walking up to people on the street, nor have I ever felt the need to want to interact with other people like this. Play can come in all forms and shapes and sizes, but the one thing that it does to in the end, is having the effect of socializing the young and old on appropriate and positive behavior.
DeGaetano, G. & Grossman, D. (2014). Stop Teaching Our Children to Kill: A call to action against TV, movie & video game violence. New York: Harmony.
Greitemeyer, T. & Osswald, S. (2011). Playing Prosocial Video Games Increases the Accessibility of Prosocial Thoughts. Journal of Social Psychology, 151(2), 121-128.
Herrera, K. (2016). Why Pokemon Go Has Turned Me Into The Social Form of Myself. Cinema Blend. Retrieved from http://www.cinemablend.com/games/1533450/why-pokemon-go-has-turned-me-into-the-most-social-form-of-myself
Huizinga, J. (2006). Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon. The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthropology (96-119). London: MIT Press.
Keogh, J. (2014). Physical and Psychological Function in Residential Aged-Care Elders: Effect of Nintendo Wii Sports Games. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 22, 235-244.
Lenhart, A. (2008). Teens, Video Games, and Civics. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 1-64.
Moverley, D. (2012). The Effects of Gaming on Socializing, Social Behavior, and Making Friends. Altered Gamer. Retrieved from http://www.alteredgamer.com/worst-pc-gaming/50292-the-effects-of-gaming-on-socializing-social-behavior-and-making-friends/
Parido, B. (2014). The Nature of Socialization in MMORPG and Its Impact on the Users. Retrieved from http://paridobianca.blogspot.com/