Gamers are not anti-social, says new study

28 Mar 2014

Gaming conference image via Wikimedia Commons

Gamers are far from the stereotype of being anti-social personalities who spend hours alone in their bedrooms, particularly those playing massive multiplayer online games, like World of Warcraft, a new study suggests.

Researchers from North Carolina State University, York University, and the Ontario Institute of Technology conducted the study. They visited 20 different gaming events across the UK and Canada that ranged in scale from smaller events numbering about 200 attendees, to arena events which feature, on average, more than 2,500 gamers.

The researchers observed gamer behaviour across games like World of Warcraft, which actively encourages players to work together online in a series of quests and battles, and found that outside of actual gaming, players were actively engaging with other gamers on a social level in terms of eating together and talking away from their computers.

In one observation, the team references the idea that the players, in fact, become ‘real world avatars’.

“We suggest that in holding players to fixed categories – the ‘World of Warcraft player,’ the ‘gold farmer,’ the ‘role player,’ and so on – we deny them agency and dynamism as players and they essentially become, for the purposes of social scientific knowledge-building, avatars.

“Only they are not in-game avatars created by players themselves, but ‘real world’ avatars – stand-ins for living, breathing humans – built and deployed by researchers, in order to make the messy, meaty aspects of MMOG (massive multiplayer online gaming) play more manageable.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic