MMORPGs/Online Gaming as Social Networks
Sure, Myspace is fun in the fact that anyone can make a thousand friends. You can even add music, videos, customize the backgrounds and, did I mention, make a thousand friends. Eventually, it all becomes a little static. Ultimately, it is a personality profile… a really cool one at that, but all communication is done through typing and emails.
But actual Cyberworlds, now that is where the fun is to be had!
Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game-sites (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft or Runescape (a free version of WoW) are not as much a collection of social introverts as people think. It’s not about sitting in their chosen room of darkness and defeating dragons of varying levels of difficulty… well, not completely.
The success of these games has little to do with storylines. There are challenges offered in order to advance a character’s levels and abilities but there really isn’t a true definitive end, just harder and harder challenges. The worlds are more about the social encounters, creating clans, rivalries, and alliances. It’s social cliques along with the action; real-world interactions within fantasy settings.
But it is more than that. Business deals have been made and sealed within the realm of WoW, marriages have been acted out here and then taken place in real life, virtual funerals have been held for teammates who died in real life but were too far away to pay respects. In fact, some of my friends from high school are held a reunion in WoW a week ago.
So, its not just about challenges, it is community as well. People’s personlity plays a big part in whether or not they are part of one clan or another, connections build a large part of success. Social networking is as integral as it is fun for players in these games, in obth the cyberworld and realworld (remember the business deal?).
Is it time to start changing our premonitions of gamers as social introverts?