Positive Outlook

Possible Answer to the Negative Aspects of Video Games?
Human Opponents and Teammates
Other Forms of Socialization

Many may initially think that online gaming has more of a negative overall effect than off-line gaming, however, the opposite, in fact, seems to be true. It has not been shown that the presence of online gaming has increased the number of hours spent playing video games. Thus, most would say that it is better to be socially involved rather than playing in isolation. There also is no support to show that online gaming is more addictive than single-player games. The Internet has created numerous gaming possibilities that were not possible with the solitaire video games. The greatest asset which the Internet brings to gaming is the reintroduction of human opponents and teammates.

Possible Answer to the Negative Aspects of Video Games?

Although the addiction factor and gender issues still exist to the same extent in online games as they do in offline games, it looks as if online gaming has provided answers to the other negatives that have plagued video games. The first obvious positive that online gaming has brought to video games which was not available to off-line games is interaction among numerous other people. Off-line games were mostly solitaire in nature and had zero social aspects associated with them. Online games have allowed for a reintroduction of socialization among games. And this socialization has no boundaries, for a very diverse Internet population exists. Playing over the web will help develop friendships, whereas playing off-line can lead to a decrease in friendships.

Another positive that online games bring forth is a decreased amount of violence. Most of the violent games being played off-line are quick action games that require rapid button-pushing. However, because of latency and lag issues these games have had a difficult time being transformed into an online medium. Furthermore, when these type of games are successfully transformed into an online game the number of enemies is drastically decreased. One is no longer playing against a tremendous amount of monsters that have been implemented into the game but rather just a few enemies being played by other humans. This forces one to methodically formulate strategies on how to dominate and beat the other individuals instead of creating an atmosphere of just killing everything in sight.

The final negative factor of video games that online gaming may alleviate is decreased intelligence. Much more constructive thinking is necessary to be successful in online games, mainly because human opponents are more unpredictable and tougher than the monsters in offline games. Also, online games promote computer usage, whereas console games (Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Sony Playstation) have no connection to the computer. Furthermore, online gaming promotes Internet usage. There is a tremendous wealth of information available on the Internet and any time spent in a constructive way on the Net will promote an increase in intelligence.

Human Opponents and Teammates

The human factor associated with online gaming creates more unpredictable opponents and challenging antagonists, far better than any artificial intelligence (AI) can be. Having stronger competition challenges one to think intelligently and act quickly. It is often a challenge of intelligence rather than who has the fastest trigger finger. Online games also teach practical strategy and tactics. In games such as Command and Conquer and Warcraft II, one must decide upon both an offensive and defensive tactic, such as “concentrate your forces on the weak points in the enemy’s defense” or “mobility is very important.” It is often not a case of who is the strongest offensive force but who has created the best defense to sustain such attacks. Through repeated playing the players learn strategy from experience and from observing others. This suggests that the strategy skills of the computer generation will be noticeably more widespread than they are today.

The Internet has also created the possibility for teamwork in games. Team formation is highly flexible and does not rely on prior meetings or any formal command structure. It is quite common for teams with shared goals to form and work together against other teams. These members are often geographically separated and no out-of-game contact exists. Numerous Quake clans have formed across the Net and often play against each other. Teamwork is necessary to be successful in these interactions of deathmatches or of capture-the-flag. “Clans, guilds, and other member-created sub-groups are one of the most dynamic aspects of online gaming communities. These groups have been likened to gangs, fraternities, and sports teams...it’s clear that the desire to belong to a particular group can be a strong motivator to frequent an online destination (Kim 1998).”

Starwave’s Castle Infinity, developed specifically as a multi-player online game, requires such teamwork. One aspect of the game is a submarine which takes four people to pilot: each controls a propeller than can move the craft in one direction only. Players must learn, cooperate, and work together in order to successfully survive.

These forms of social interaction make games much more enjoyable. There are many ingredients in this involvement of teamwork: forming a team, adopting rules, establishing a team identity, figuring out different roles for team members depending on their skills and preferences, strategizing, and working together in a group. The Internet has provided for this opportunity to engage in this type of complex social interaction, even over large distances.

Other Forms of Socialization

Other forms of social interaction that accompany online games are the waiting rooms and lobbies found at game servers. These operate just like chat rooms and players here can discuss the games that they are playing and also match up with a particular player(s) to start an online game with. Online game dedicated bulletin boards are another form of social communication that has resulted from online gaming. Here, players can freely express ideas or concerns for everybody to see and respond to. Although these social areas allow for much more intimate communication among players, they often serve as a backseat to the actual online gaming experience which lacks any real forms of communication.

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This document was created April 19, 1998 and last modified on  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 17:34:54.
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