Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Social, Gaming and Social Gaming

There's a video out there that's going a bit viral at the moment ...

I suspect you'll know the one I mean or have actually seen it. It's commenting on how there's a correlation between the increase of social networking and the increase in individual loneliness.

I reckon you'll know what I mean there. We're sacrificing the immediacy of being around our mates for the apparent greater connectivity that sites like Facebook, Twitter and the various other online thingys offer. We exchange the joyous sound of a whole hearted belly laugh for the rather anticlimatic "lol". (Alternatives are available, I've actually used "roflcopter" in a communicator conversation).

The point is, we don't get out there as much any more. The online alternatives take over and pull us into the virtual world.

How's gaming come into this ?

I've always been one for gaming. I started off in normal single player games but migrated into online gaming with World of Warcraft. I'd quite happily lose myself in the virtual world of that single player game. I have to admit, I was probably a different person back then. My gaming pattern was certainly different.

Ok - definitely addicted to the gaming but also with a bit of a social scene going on too. The Crazie Mob have always been checking out the latest stuff at the cinema (almost said "greatest" but with some of the films we've seen ? Haha) and I've been blessed with lots of people to natter with, grin at and occasionally get chuckles out of at work. Not much of an active social scene though, I've never really been one to get dragged off to the pub by semi-random people. (Not that I would complain if dragged off to the pub by a Pretty Lady)

That World of Warcraft comment ?

The big reason I checked out World of Warcraft was the enthusiasm of a mate who was called Souleater in game. He was one of the founding fathers of the guild and definitely drove us on. He was in my team at work too, so that enthusiasm was grabbing me outside of work too.

From there, we join in with the organisation called Guildlink which brought voice comms into play too. And from that, the multiplayer aspect goes up a whole new level with the chance to do Stuff with 39 other people, most of whom would be chatting away over Teamspeak/Vent/Mumble.

At this time, my last major relationship broke up too, so I needed something to divert attention away from a major hole in my private life. Enter all those lovely Guildlink people, an Overqueen to worship, a Krinza to natter to, a guild to make me feel valued and welcome. Yeah, there were rocky times along the way but also some huge YEY moments. And that's not forgetting the Violence Reborn peeps with their delightful chilled out craziness who rehabilitated me back into the game after the mad times.

That's an All Good Things case though. The WoW addiction broke for me because of the resets that happen with each expansion. Not just that, it's a pale shadow of what it once was. It's ridiculously easy plus I've lost the link to the social scene that gave it that compelling factor.

So that's :

Social - which I kinda skipped
Gaming - which I definitely didn't skip on
Social gaming - which I was in for a while with the WoW

But ... what I enjoyed way more than the computer stuff was the pen and paper gaming I used to do. Not done that for ages but it was pretty much an excuse to :

Nip round a mates house with a few friends
Chill out with pizza/nosh and munchies
Have a laugh with a game
Enjoy the company of others

And that's actual company, not the shallow experience that Facebook and Twitter offer. Text is a very watered down form of interaction and it's the way much of our interaction is going these days :

Facebook - it's very easy to hit that "like" button and not interact any further
Twitter - is still a cesspit of idiots and that 140 character limit is ...claustrophobic
A "lol" doesn't have the impact of the smile that comes with the laugh
It's easy to fake it over text and present a false picture of how you're actually feeling
Similarly, you can't see the pain that people need a little help to cope with
And it's hard to lose yourself in a texty hug the way you can in an all enveloping real life proper hug

We've lost a lot with the descent into the electronic world.

It's not just the text environment that's far less expressive and expansive compared to the real world. We've gone away from looking for excuses to be out and around other people. It's like that online environment is satisfying that social urge just enough.

That said though, my circle of friends is much wider now than before social media and online gaming came in. To mention a few :

Snow Queen ! A smile over communicator doesn't have anywhere near the impact of one of your dazzling smiles when it's delivered in person. (Cakes plz!)
Pixie - a wonderful friend who pulled me in to the PA support community
The old D&D group - I really miss this
The VR crowd - it's a shame I lost interest in the game or I'd still be looking to be involved
The Eve mob - and a certain person who's enthusiasm for this game isn't quite infectious enough to draw me back in (but it's close!)
The cricket mob - I spoke to the skipper today, they still want me to play - body willing
And the Crazie Mob, who connected through work social media while it still existed.

To close out - my Social -> Gaming -> Social Gaming circle has turned again. I'm no longer addicted to playing the games myself. I find something else to be way more fun. It started with a certain Totalbiscuit but now I watch a lot of the Yogscast.

Who are they ? TB is a Brit commentator on games, the Yogscast are a collection of people who have that genius ability to play the games to a high standard and at the same time, have a massive laugh over the commentary. Instead of it being a pen and paper session around a house with your mates, it's listening to them having a laugh and feeling included with that.

I don't watch all that they do, Hannah and Kim plus Duncan are my favourites with Rythian and Zoey coming in close behind.

But I'll keep watching for a while. Cos when they laugh (or scream), it's like they're inviting you to laugh (or scream) along with them. It breaks through that wall that raw text puts up. It's open, it's natural. And it's like being down the pub with your mates.


  1. Have zero interest in Facebook and even less with Twitter. I *really* can't see the point. But then again I'm rather old fashioned and set in my ways.... [lol]

  2. The only reason I see for them is keeping up with what people are up to. But ... they're good for that but only up to a point - too much and something gets lost along the way.

    Twitter seems a self promotion mechanism more than anything else. Some of those idiots I've unfollowed have been more spammy than the trolls who do nasty things like break the uksnowmap site


So much for anonymous commenting ... If you would like to leave a message and don't have a suitable account, there's an email address in my profile.