Gamers Are Not Antisocial; We Have High Social Standards

‘Gamer’ is a word with a tonne of stigma nipping at its heels. I often wonder if my own mother would rather I was addicted to drugs than games....
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Gamer is a word with a tonne of stigma nipping at its heels. I often wonder if my own mother would rather I was addicted to drugs than games. The common complaint I hear is that gaming and gaming culture breeds antisocial behaviours. After all, how will you have those Just William style adventures if you are locked in your bedroom playing Darksouls? Well, allow me to argue that gamers are a lot more social than people think. In fact, gaming offers a whole host of tools that enhance the way we socialise. Being cyber social isn’t a cross to bear, on the contrary, it may well be superior to the average social interaction.

In real life, people are thrust in our general direction by the tides of fate. Even if you have nothing in common, odds are you’ll end up calling a few of them friends. That’s what happens when the social Stockholm Syndrome known as the Mere Exposure Effect kicks in. It made sense in the past for proximity to be the main criteria for friendship. Now we live in a vastly more interconnected world. The world where I can talk to someone on the other side of the globe in real time isn’t one where physical distance should be a criterion for friendship, and it isn’t. Internet friends are just as real as the kid you mutually suffered through school with all those years ago.

So let me dive into the subject at hand. How games bring people together and how online interactions are superior to real world ones, especially in the context of those ‘life interfering’ MMORPGs.

MMOs Provide A Social Situation Free Of Preconceptions

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The real world, being imperfect and generally a dumpster fire careening down a hill, isn’t fair. We all have a colourful assortment of cultural baggage weighing us down. We never really enter a conversation with a clean slate because naturally, people judge what they see. This isn’t something you can easily escape, especially when you are held accountable for your ancestry. Even positive attributes such as being sexually attractive or healthy can invite judgement on you and your life experiences.

The virtual world simply isn’t the same. In fact, can you think of a more level playing field for a meeting of minds? You are wholly in control of how you present yourself online. Entirely free to shed any negative or positive context you usually carry into social situations. The only baggage you are going to get in most games is what alliance you belong to and represent. That fact alone should be a selling point for the superior social experience gamers have available to them.

Isn’t it ironic to think that some of the most authentic social experiences you have, may well occur in an entirely virtual world? The anonymity leads to an honesty that is hard to manifest in the real world for fear of the consequences. Yet, in this safe setting when asked what you really think there isn’t really a reason to be afraid to share. Hell, I’ve seen people walking around with ‘BDSM’ on display (as their guild), that’s more honesty than I’ll ever wear on my sleeve.

Socialising Online Is Like Having Super Powers

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In today’s modern world, we essentially have the tools to shop for friends. Nowhere else do you have the ability to search through thousands of people like this and hone in on what you like. It isn’t even difficult, I can find Pepe fans, Anti-Social Media groups, and all kinds of random niches. Part of the reason people find gamers to be antisocial might be that we simply have higher standards. Why should we settle for someone we don’t have much in common with when you can find someone you want at a touch of a few keys. I think Aziz Ansari says it best in his bit about online dating; “in real life, you can’t just burst into a bar and go ‘Jewish and my Zip Code!’”.

It is also easier to manage social interactions online. Turning invisible if you don’t feel up to talking or passively lurking and only chipping in occasionally. You are reminded of friends birthdays and notified when they log in. Who wouldn’t want to augment their social life in such a way?

Along with tools for finding people based on interests, MMOs also create shared experiences people can bond over. Perhaps you go through a particularly harrowing dungeon, but that damn singing bard belting out The Macarena kept you in high spirits. Perhaps you and another person both have a particularly obscure title or weapon from some crazy side quest. The point is the MMO create these points of interest where you can bond over in-game events even if you have nothing in common in the real world.

In Game Content Can Bring Players Together

Just like in the real world, the context of your relationship changes how you interact with each other. Meeting a member of your alliance may evoke a small token of patriotism such as a flame salute or another token of recognition. Outside the context of in game lore there’s no real reason to bother, but sometimes it just feels right. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I view my guild as a family. I’ll deal with people in my guild far more tenderly than I would the average Joe because of the context of our relationship.

Overall, I find most of these additional contexts and groupings beneficial. In the real world these sort of social contexts are isolating. In the past we’ve gone to war over religion, football, and a bucket. We don’t have the best track record. Whereas, not being in the same group in-game is not really a big deal because it’s just a game.

The In-Game Reality Can Alter How You Think Of Someone

And they all lived happily ever after

Hopefully this doesn’t end up being just my psychosis because I want to share an anecdote. I recently got married in-game. In real life we don’t know each other and we live on different corners of the globe. I couldn’t help but noticed our relationship changed when we tied the knot in game. It isn’t just role-playing, it is a sense of dedication.

It manifests in odd ways like making an effort to help each other or sharing resources. The amount of times people mistake us for a real couple aught to be alarming to me. Before getting married we weren’t even ‘best friends’ or anything, we just really liked the look of those white Chocobos. Now, I actively look forward to playing with ‘my man’. So the next time someone bitterly complains that gaming hurts your social life, don’t get mad. Just laugh about it with your friends in-game later.

I'm the crazy English teacher who all the students love because they don't know they're learning anything. I look at gaming as a means of uniting generations and people as well as a tool for teaching and soothing. I often boast that every major success in my life is the result of my gaming addiction. It is my hope that in future the term 'Gamer' will not be derogatory outside the walls of our community.
  • Nephanor

    This is a very interesting take, and to be honest, I agree with most of your points. However, as an old school gamer, I do disagree with something in your profile itself. I don’t think gamer should be freed from it’s derogatory connotation, simply because it keeps it more honest. If It becomes popular, and cool, like it has in recent years, it attracts more of the people who see it as a status symbol and a fashion accessory, and less about the media and the fun. We’ve seen this in the past 5-10 years of people trying to ‘change’ gaming from what it was when us gamers built it, into something completely unrecognizable and unwelcoming to those who built gaming up.

    When it was socially stigmatized, those who were in gaming were there because they loved it. They didn’t care what others thought, men, women, all races, sexualities, we didn’t care. We were there because as you point out, it is a true meeting of the minds. But then people came in and wanted to bring their real life “identities” with them. They wanted to get bonus points in the social hierarchy because of something that most true gamers don’t give a crap about. And that’s not right. It’s not fair, and honestly, I won’t stand for it.

    In the end, you are right, we have higher social standards, and that’s what pisses these people off the most. They don’t meet them. They come into gaming, and find that they are isolated, not because of their RL attributes that they use to claim victimhood with, but because their personalities are so abrasive, so horrible that no one WANTS to be around them. And so they need to get rid of us with high social standards, because we are “excluding” them. I say keep gaming stigmatized and derogatory. It keeps those who don’t really love gaming out.

    • Jon Ander Alcántara Martín
    • If this were Reddit you could have won Reddit Gold ;-; that was beautiful. Still, because gaming has already become much more mainstream I would love to clear up the various misconceptions about it and share my passion with everyone and their auntie. I feel like these people who whine about video games are already getting weeded out by their own personalities. That is where phrases like ‘get your politics out of gaming’ truly spawn from, people dealing with these fools who are suddenly realizing they’re on a level playing field. A side effect of a generation being raised to think they are special and discovering o you really aren’t unless you work for it.

      Just my musings, great comment

    • yousuckhaha

      I feel like it may be your misplaced sense of self-importance and willingness to either blatantly lie or remain woefully ignorant of the facts that pisses people off about you. Gaming for most of its infancy and adolescence was entirely a place for straight, white males. Now, everybody games – and every minority I know doesn’t have a problem fitting in with the online crowd. But what do facts mean to some red-pilled loser that can’t differentiate reality from fantasy? Your social interactions with players in an online game mean next to nothing, because you’re not experiencing real things together. You’re controlling a prompt on a screen and if you think that a dungeon crawl with an online stranger is comparable to a real life walk with one. Keep hiding in the basement and crying about those mean, mean feminists and your dwindling rights as a poor, poor white male.

    • Gdsddfddd

      Or, you’re a loser that actually thinks pictures on a screen and interactions between algorithms are the same as real life? Anybody with a mind sees you as an idiot the moment you claim gaming was a socially accepting culture. Everybody’s into gaming now; the only people that are shunned are idiot narcissists such as yourself. You don’t have high social standards, you’re just a crybaby that can’t accept that there’s nothing worthwhile about you.

      • I find it really cute that you used your other discord profile to vote up your own comment <3 don't worry, senpai noticed you.

        • Gdsddfddd

          I actually just voted it up with this, my only Disqus profile. Christ, you’re stupid.

          • hush baby, hush I’ve noticed you, you don’t need to keep throwing your rattle.

            (Also lol, your only disq profile has just 4 comments? and one of those in on an article about porn? Your life must be riveting!)

          • Gdsddfddd

            Good job! You can count to four! Don’t worry, you’ll have those thousand comments and increased obesity that make for an interesting life soon enough.

          • Obesity haha, your insults are so off it’s hilarious. Here let me help you, why don’t you look at my profile picture? There’s plenty of shit to make fun of, I’m so pale I blend with the white walls at work you know.

          • Gdsddfddd

            You’re not thin, and maybe you don’t know how obesity works, but you don’t have to be a blubbering whale yet to be headed there. You look like a stupid, entitled female that’s never done a real day of work in your life, so god knows why you’d bash feminists. You need to feel special, though, it’s just unfortunate that there’s nothing special about you or your shitty writing.

          • You’re assuming much and are so far off base it’s adorable. I’m underweight, as in, medically underweight, that’s why I find your obesity comment laughable. I have never been physically *able* to reach anything close to over weight and certainly not in that picture. :-p so I guess you shoulda gone to specsavers.

            As for your comments on never having a day of real work, again way off base. I grew up in a poor family living hand to mouth helping dig up potatoes and look after all the babies of the house. Not to mention helping out mixing cement and ferrying stones up a kilometre long zigzaged mountain road. When I wasn’t doing that I was off washing cars so I had cash for school materials. Everything I have I worked for and continue to work at. That’s part of what made me love my games. I had so few when I started and would play them again and again and squeeze out as much from them as I could.

            As for why I bash feminism. It is out of a deep respect for what feminism should have been. It shouldn’t be whiny entitled brats shirking responsibility by blaming men. It shouldn’t include lies about rape statistics and domestic abuse that make women too scared to go to the police. It shouldn’t be about demonising men and little boys and masculinity or pretending men and women are the same. Bring me back World War II era feminism, then I’ll happily be a feminist. But how do you expect me not to bash them when terms like ‘Manspreading’ are used unironically? How could anyone claim to be for equality but support a movement that seeks to segregate races and genders based on a flawed concept of privilege? A concept that assumes someone’s life experiences based on arbitrary factors such as race and gender?

            With all that said, what in this article bashed feminism? Or are you carrying your salt over from one of my other pieces and were too cowardly to comment under it for fear of someone engaging in a true debate with you?

          • Gdsddfddd

            You screeching and using literal ‘your mom’ jokes isn’t a debate, it’s you putting your idiocy on full display. Appreciate the attempt to save face though!

          • Well you didn’t come for a debate did you? You came for a confrontation. You want me to take you seriously, but you called one of my readers a crybaby. You expect me to treat you as anything but a joke after that? You gave low grade insults I returned them. You’re the faceless anon here, too cowardly to show your face when you spew hate. I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to use my own name and face when I dish out a petty insult. Also, I’d like to reiterate that I am not screeching, nor am I upset, I am just mildly amused and willing to entertain you because I know how desperate you are to see a woman ‘writhe’.

          • Gdsddfddd

            So you jump around from calling me a feminist to a misogynist? Make up your small mind. You and your sole reader are both mentally incompetent crybabies.

          • It’s not really jumping around. Those things aren’t exactly mutually exclusive. I’m entertaining myself, but I am open to debate if you want to put forward an argument. If you can manage that. If you feel you are on the same level as this old ‘mentally incompetent crybaby’ else you can crawl back to 4chan. Please do hurry though, lunch is almost over and I’ve got adulting to do

          • Gdsddfddd

            Misogyny exists as a form of prejudice against women, which runs contrary to the idea of equality by feminism. So which claim are you running with? 4chan /would/ be a great place for you! Lots of anti-feminists, anti-BLM there, and they’d share your mental acuity to boot.

          • Just because feminism says it’s for equality (or rather says it is for equality *for women*) does not make it true. Feminism is pro feminists, it claims to speak for women and minorities while simultaneously drowning out anyone who isn’t a feminist. So yes on paper they run counter to one another, but personally I have not met a group more hateful toward non-feminist women anywhere else. Especially when it comes to pro life or conservative women. Frankly it’s gross, but that matches what I think of the rest of modern day feminism. I feel sorry for the true freedom fighters who labour under the tag of feminism while the rest of their movement works against them. They don’t even define racism and sexism the same way within that movement, they’ve redefined them in order to be racist and sexist… ironic i suppose.

            So to repeat, you don’t have to choose between being a misogynist and a feminist you’re just also a hypocrite. I don’t understand why this would be a difficult concept to grasp seeing as you have obviously come from one of my other articles that mentions feminism. Unable to handle an anti-feminist woman you have decided to import that bitterness to the comment thread of this article. Heck did this article mention feminism once? I didn’t even through in a playful “yes xer”

          • Gdsddfddd

            So you’re stupid enough to think you can redefine a word to fit your agenda. Keep trying, kiddo. So shit-talking one mentally stunted female makes a person a misogynist? Maybe an ableist, but otherwise, you’re still a fucking idiot lol.

          • The word can go ahead an mean the same thing, it’ll still be associated with the people who call themselves feminists. And the people who call themselves feminists ain’t fighting for anyone but themselves. Either way it matters very little to me, I am not a feminist and I am not for the movement. Simple as really, I’m sorry this upsets you to such a degree you have to come vent your frustration over here. I’m glad I could offer a distraction.

          • Gdsddfddd

            It’s cute how you drop topics as soon as you’re proven wrong. I’m sorry being called out upsets you to such a degree that your responses nearly always exceed the person’s you’re replying to with doubled length.

          • What topics have I dropped? I shall readdress them if needed. You can go ahead and answer my question too, where in this article did I shun feminism? There’s nothing really to prove wrong in the statement “I am not a feminist and I am not for the movement” so I don’t really know what you are getting at. I still haven’t worked out why you are dragging feminism into this piece at all.

          • Gdsddfddd

            So, beginning at the top, how stupid are you? You’re the one that threw around implications of misogyny and then labels of feminist and then were dumb enough to state they weren’t mutually exclusive.

  • OkayDoc

    Hey, 2001 just called, they want their ‘Cliche article about what online gaming is that everyone and their grandma already figured out without any prompting’ back. I wonder what is like being a gaming journalist, writing up an article about something people have already been saying for decades, yet acting as if I’m being insightful and had only just figured it out.

    THIS is why theres a stigma against gamers, Stephanie, because the majority are dumb people like you treating simple basic human deduction as some great epiphany, so it can only stand to reason that gamers are dumb if it takes that much effort to deduce the obvious.

    • Thank you for your insightful comment! While I disagree with the majority of its content and tone I respect your right to voice an opinion. In future, I will be sure to put my musings past you to avoid triggering you. It was *sincerely* not my objective to light the fuse on your tampon and I apologise for any mental, physical, psychological or spiritual damage you have incurred as a result to reading my article.

      As for your wonderings, it’s a lot like being a prophet you know? I say something that should be obvious like “Don’t kill each other” and bam! It is suddenly deeply profound. People will be singing it in church and adding it to bumper stickers. Shockingly, people like positive messages in their life even if they are obvious to some.

      I was under the impression it something to do with the fact games have been blamed for school shootings, cancer, obesity, misogyny, lower grades, social interference, bullying, antisocial behaviour, unwilling preservation of virginity, the promotion and worship of satan, homophobia, transphobia, hyper masculinity, and probably treason. Or maybe the fact that gaming is the scapegoat for every bad parent and person who doesn’t want to try hard. Or maybe JUST MAYBE the stigma exists because people like you want to lash out at people like me who just want to celebrate something most people look at from a negative angle? 😮

      Anyway, please continue trying to insult me. It makes me feel important. 🙂

      • yousuckhaha

        That’s an incredibly juvenile response, but what else should have been expected given the quality of the article lol?

      • Gdsddfddd

        What a lame, immature reply. You’re not special snowflake, and your ‘journalism’ is garbage – as is your writing style, so don’t get offended when people call your shitty work out.

        • I’m sorry, was my sarcasm not clear enough when I was proclaiming myself a messiah? In that case, please know that was 100% literal. I am in fact Christ reborn, no joke. As your new a honourable patriarch know that I shall forgive you your trespasses.
          Oh and don’t mistake me for being offended darling. I’m having a great time. More salt please 🙂

          • Gdsddfddd

            I’m having a great time too, watching you writhe. Get a real job, your writing skills are so subpar you even troll like an elementary schooler.

          • If you wanna watch a woman writhe you should follow you mum to work ;D

          • Gdsddfddd

            Good job! Your originality knows no bounds. It’s your lack of imagination sponsored by an overall staggeringly low intellect that makes your writing such shit.

          • You’re right, this did lack imagination we can make this better. It needs lights, camera, drama!

            Anon’s mother, the world famous prossy (not hating, worlds oldest profession and all that) and master of the famous ‘Cum Catch’ was cut down in her prime. After a failed abortion she gave birth to the one and only Anon and new her creampie days were over. This instilled in Anon a void that needed to be filled. He felt responsible for ending his mothers golden days of being shagged by strangers behind macdonalds. This void manifested in a unique fetish. He needed to see women writhe.

            Unfortunately, due to his technique and mannerism he couldn’t land a suitable sexual partner. Now he roams the internet, lurking out the bottom of articles with his pants off, fapping to any female attention he can lays his hands on. Deep down, his real desire is to see his mother return to the field that brought her so much joy, to writhe once more.

            *end credits*

          • Gdsddfddd

            Wow, so you’re stupid enough to misunderstand originality with elaboration? You’re a fucking joke, LOL. Somebody needs to find whatever ‘school’ you’re working at, god knows a dumbass like you doesn’t need to be influencing the minds of kids. Also, teachers that think they’re cool are typically the worst.

          • Too insignificant to be mentioned by a school with over 600 foreign teachers and several branches across China? My, how deeply offensive that would be. I’m pretty sure I work there though, no one has made me leave my classroom in the two years that I’ve been turning up there. Then again maybe it just got too awkward, like when you forget someone’s name but it’s too late to ask for it so you have to wait for someone to say it. Like oh shit no one told that white girl she doesn’t work here, well too late now.

            Also, if you read your own comment you whined about a lack of imagination and so I added a little more pzazz to the tale for your benefit. Either way, feel free to try and get me fired, You wouldn’t be the first or the last feminist to try based on politics. Though I think we both know that. 😉

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