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The GSP part 1 – Gaming Social Paradigm

The “Gaming Social Paradigm”, is something I’ve been considering for quite some time. It brings up interesting conversation and it can be used in a number of arguments to support various claims. The GSP is a look at how Video Game culture has drastically altered the common consensus of what it means to be social. It will also look at how this affects the player and how these effect change their lifestyle.

Gaming today has grown far beyond the borders of what it once was. Gone are the days that required multiple controllers and a massive array of games to keep your friends satisfied. Times have changed to such a degree, that we no longer actually need other people with us to enjoy multi-player games, instead we play with other people from around the globe, most of whom we have never met. This change brings some questions to the fore that I feel are important to maintaining the integrity of the gaming culture.

So a common opinion of gamers is that they are social pariahs. And “pariah” is an apt description of how they are viewed. If you happen to be enthusiastic about video games, and you can passionately talk about the development process, and the polygonal count per second of your faveourite series etc, chances are if you approach a group of non-gamers you would most likely be regarded as someone that it’s not good to be associated with. This misconception has been cemented firmly in current social convention thanks to the stereotypical 80’s-90’s gamers, who are portrayed as slaving over PC components in a dark basement surrounded by empty food packaging and hardware or being morbidly obese people who never leave the comfort of their seat. While this may be true for some, it is certainly only representative of a minuscule amount of gamers. Most players would far rather meet and talk with other people of the same mindset than play another round of halo or COD.

With the boom in online gaming in the past decade, a great many peoples definition of what it means to be social has also been warped to varying degrees.
A large portion of players like to say that being social can include the use of a headset to converse with other people, and thus alleviate the need to physically interact with others. Another portion of players like to say that they consider the use of headsets as a primary tool for socialising to, in fact be anti-social because of the lack of actual interaction. While the definition of such a broad word is up for debate and is likely to never be agreed upon, the definition is irrelevant.
Since Games have become so intertwined into an online culture, you no longer get the same experiences as playing with your friends right by your side, where you get the mental benefit of human company, you can speak to each other without the need for extra equipment, and most of all you are indisputably being social.

First we must ask is it a bad thing, that we have progressed so far that we no longer need to be beside each other. And secondly we must ask is it a good thing, because now we can talk to people from all cultures and creeds. But the human condition, being as it is, it’ unlikely that this will actually bridge the gap between races and culture divides, if anything it can provide the chance for un-prosecutable hostility through the open chat availability.

First of all, yes it is inherently bad that people no longer have to meet others, yes it is bad that a person can remain alone,theoretically for ever, but still feel like part of a group because they are digitally connected to them. With gaming growing to become a world spanning pass time that rivals, if not straight up usurps mainstream media you have to acknowledge that this will cause people to become further disconnected. It’s vaguely similar, to the sex scene in Demolition man, here in meaning that we will eventually progress to a point at which there is no longer a need for actual contact between people.

But on the other hand, It gives people the chance to meet and converse with those otherwise outside of their comfort zone. It’s not uncommon for people to be playing online with a various assortment of ethnicity’s. If the human mindset and condition does improve and people become more accepting, imagine the opportunities for connection and how close we could become. It gives friends who are separated by great distances the ability to converse and game alongside each other as if they are in the next room instead of the next continent.

“Personally, I don’t qualify online gaming, especially if there’s no communication what so ever, to be a social interaction. Even if you have to communicate and have the means to, actual conversations are always preferable in my book.-Yair Donin, Israel”

It’s difficult to legitimately decide, with any degree of certainty if this digital community has caused a paradigm shift in the real world, and like mentioned above if this shift is for the better or worse, in part 2 we will discuss the psychological ramification of this disconnected nature that we are readily accepting as common place.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the thesis and gaming news that will be coming up in the next few days folk!!

Martin Toney is a long time Video Game Journalist from Ireland.