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Social Gaming Effects on Human Behavior With Regards to Socializing and Interacting With Others

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The image of video games within the public eye has changed a great deal over the nearly 40 years that video games have existed. What began as little more than a science experiment with the creation of the Odyssey game system and a two-colored game called Pong has changed into a bustling industry with games that are, at times, so graphically advanced that it can be difficult to tell the difference between the game image and a real photograph. These changes are self evident. It is not difficult to remember a time in which video game use was the exception instead of the norm. Even in the legal system the presence of video games continues to grow. For example, former Florida attorney Jack Thompson has become increasingly well known in his attempts to censor, and in some cases, completely ban the sale of some video games such as the popular Grand Theft Auto series (McCauley, 2009). On the other hand, some politicians, such as Bob Dole, are embracing the gaming community and actively campaigning in virtual worlds such as Second Life (McCauley, 2009).

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Computer games represent the first digital media technology which is applied for socialization of a generation in a large scale and often most of the teenagers in other countries are using these games

But on the other hand, excessiveness in playing these games has caused some concerns about the possible side-effects they have on the players. Major concerns about these games are due to two main factors; first, the amount of time children spend and second, the nature of these games, particularly, when children spend their time playing to compensate for ignoring other educational-social activities and leisure time. They are potentially harmful, because computer games may be replaced by other activities such as homework, free reading or exercising. It has been observed that children addicted to computer games tend to play more and avoid social relationships.8 Recent studies indicated the significant statistics about the excessive use and addiction to games. However, the figures are various; for example, in the United State, one out of 10 is addicted to computer games. They may also be used as means to satisfy psychological needs of players who play games in an excessive way. As Wan and Chiou mentioned in their study, these needs are mentioned as need for fun, entertainment and recreation, overcoming psychological mechanisms, running away from reality, mutual social interactions, need for arousal and competition and need for feeling powerful expressions, like those who seek computer games in order to satisfy their social interaction because they would experience anxiety and distress facing the real world’s social situations. The players may practically prefer all the social interactions and relations occurring in the virtual environment to the real world, and they provide the need for stabilizing the social situation and sense of belonging through interaction with other playmates in the game. Moreover, recent studies showed that excessive use of computer games (more than 20 hours a week) would lead to negative impact on health, negative moods, depressive syndrome and weak social interactions.

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Research dedicated to this issue is enormous, with “many scientific studies concluding that significant exposure to violent video games increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children. From this exposure children become desensitized to violence making them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is” (Tompkins 2003). Unfortunately, these thoughts are often said to be difficult to change later on in life. Therefore children begin to think that violence is normal behavior as depicted in the games. The idea of violence in video games can be similar to that of domestic violence, where children who are exposed to violence either become offenders or victims as they believe that what they observe is the norm (Tompkins 2003)

The development of these thoughts in gamers could potentially lead to gamers becoming more violent and aggressive over time.

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Online multiplayer communities are susceptible to changes

Old communities perish and new ones are born constantly, and gamers frequently shift between communities. However, the social networks and personal relationships that form the base of these communities may survive even though the disbandment of a community. It is possible that a new multiplayer community rises out of the old one’s ashes.

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Martey, R., & Stromer-Galley, J. (2007). The digital dollhouse: Context and social norms in the Sims online. Games and Culture, 2, 314-334.

McCauley, D. (2009). GamePolitics. Retrieved February 16, 2009, from GamePolitics Website:

University of Jyvaeskylae. "How Does Online Gaming Affect Social Interactions?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2007.

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