A new research study suggests that online gaming may actually broaden players’ social lives.
“Gamers aren’t the antisocial basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes, they’re highly social people,” said Dr. Nick Taylor, an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper on the study.
“This won’t be a surprise to the gaming community, but it’s worth telling everyone else. Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm.”
In the study, researchers traveled to more than 20 public gaming events in Canada and the United Kingdom, from 2,500-player events held in convention centers to 20-player events held in bars.
The researchers observed the behavior of thousands of players, and had 378 players take an in-depth survey, with a focus on players of massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as EVE Online and World of Warcraft.
The researchers were interested in tracking the online and offline behavior of gamers, focusing on how they communicated with each other. They found that gaming was only one aspect of social behavior at the gaming events.
“We found that gamers were often exhibiting many social behaviors at once: watching games, talking, drinking, and chatting online,” Taylor said. “Gaming didn’t eliminate social interaction, it supplemented it.