written by Fyren
There are any number of reasons that one may find themselves lacking a good set of social skills. Whether you have anxiety or just never had many friends, many such people end up playing video games.
In days gone by, this may have seen gamers locking themselves off from the world. Today however, with the near ubiquitous nature of the internet, gaming can now often be more socially demanding than some ‘IRL’ activities. I claim that the interaction found withing online gaming communities is one of the most beneficial environments for developing one’s ability to co-operate towards goals with a group of people that may share very little in common other than a love of gaming.
(image source: here)
The games here are actually a very important piece of the puzzle. Firstly, they provide a common interest among their players. If you meet a person while playing a game online, it follows that the both of your already have something in common, namely that you enjoy the game. Second, the game provides a framework for shared goals. This forces people to co-operate towards a goal, whether it is a recruitment effort for your clan, modding your community server, or just teaming up to get some of that sweet, sweet loot.
With this framework for social interaction set up by our games, we are provided an easy path with which to develop relationships and practice social skills. This is how we can become better people through gaming, by approaching our online gaming spaces as a place to learn to interact with the world. Trying to organize or even just navigate a diverse group of people provides endless practice for one’s social skills. Increasingly, online spaces and communities include people of every demographic and from all over the world.
Through gaming, I have met all sorts of people, that I never would have had the chance to otherwise. Countless people have marked my life over the years, some have taught me things and I taught others. Some have been great friends and some I hope to never cross paths with again. I have met young gamers and old gamers. Some who are just plain bad at games despite enjoying them, and some that put my ‘skills’ to shame.
My point with all of this, is that through all of these relationships, possible only through online gaming, I have grown as a person. I have learned how to interact with an extremely broad spectrum of people, and most importantly I have had fun doing it. Who knows, with such a wide net to be cast you could end up finding a lifelong friend.