Do "Gamers" Have Social Skills?

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A concern of parents and educators world-wide is whether "gamers" have what can be described as normal social skills.  Or is an obsession with computer and on-line games stunting their social growth and skills?  While many decry gaming, according to this study it appears that gamers have normal inter-personal skills, and perhaps even a well-developed ability to multi-task.

While this goes against the common stereotype of gamers, this could be an important consideration for your fiction. The story from  North Carolina State University follows ~

Online gaming augments players' social lives

"Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm."
Online social behavior isn’t replacing offline social behavior in the gaming community, new research shows. Instead, online gaming is expanding players’ social lives. "Gamers aren't the antisocial basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes, they're highly social people," says the lead author of a paper. "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."

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 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 says. "Gaming didn't eliminate social interaction, it supplemented it.
"This was true regardless of which games players were playing, and whether a player's behavior in the online game was altruistic. For example, a player could be utterly ruthless in the game and still socialize normally offline."

The researchers also found that gamers didn't distinguish between the time they spent playing games and the time they spent watching other people play games.  "It all fell under the category of gaming, which they view as a social activity," Taylor says.

Taylor notes that this work focused on Western gaming communities, and he's interested in studying the relationship between social behaviors and gaming in other cultures.
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Story Source:  Nicholas Taylor, Jennifer Jenson, Suzanne de Castell, Barry Dilouya. Public Displays of Play: Studying Online Games in Physical Settings. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 2014


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