Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Social Aspect of Gaming

In addition to my normal babble, there are other topics that are on my mind when it comes to video games and MMOs in general.  I'd like to think I've experienced a lot when it comes to my past decade or so of MMOs.  Not only with the game aspect, but with the social aspect as well.  Very important periods of my life have been covered with me playing these immersive games, and definitely not always for the betterment of me, my friends, or my family. 

Gaming affects more than just in game relationships
We've all done it.  Anyone that is truly a gamer has skipped out on some sort of social gathering to just sit at home and game.  There is not a thing wrong with that either.  Everyone deserves a little down time by themselves to do what they please.  It just so happens that the writer and readers of this blog use that time to play video games.  Have you ever thought how it really affects us though?  Not even just us, but our friends and family?  I'm sure you've been scolded as I have from a relative about your gaming habits, and probably have just shrugged it off.  I mean it's only a game right?  How could that possibly affect me, or them for that matter?

Now I haven't directly lost any relationships due to my gaming habits, but indirectly who knows.  Having literally years of my life absorbed into games has to have had me miss out on some things.  For example, I was off work yesterday.  Rather than take my dog to the vet, I gamed.  My dog isn't sick mind you, it was just a check up appointment.  So I did the honorable thing for my dog and rescheduled.  Clearly though, that's a problem.  I'm willing to put off a living beings health and wellness for my own personal, virtual gain.  What did I really accomplish in that few hour time span?  A few insignias?  A Royal crest? 

Problem is, is that it doesn't just end with dogs.  I know I've skipped out on parties with friends.  I've not gone to clubs in college simply to play my Nightshade in DAoC.  My roomate and friend in college literally skipped an entire Thanksgiving with his family to game.  In turn, his family thought he was missing and naturally called the cops.  Clearly, an issue.  I know he and myself can't be the only ones with this problem.

Not only does it affect us though, it affects the ones we love and care about.  Maybe even more than us.  I have a wife and baby now.  My gaming days are winding down and I have other responsibilities that I must take care of before logging onto a virtual world.  Quite often though I put off those responsibilities, and boy do I hear about it.  On more than one occasion my wife has threatened to take a sledge to my computer because I've missed things.  We've certainly had talks about how it consumes so much of my time.  Ultimately she is right about everything.  How can I be so dumb and miss so much?  She gets frustrated beyond belief sometimes, simply because I am sitting in my office playing a game rather than spend time with her.  How far can she let that frustration go though? 

Now please don't critisize me of being a terrible father and husband.  It's not as if I do this every waking moment of my life.  There are just sporatic times when I'd rather play a game and forget about my troubles.  I guess it happens a little to much though, in this stage of my life.  These games today are addicting, like a drug.  We've all seen and heard about the guys who play World of Warcraft so long that they forget to eat and eventually die of exhaustion.  I'm sure we've all laughed that off as well.  After all that could never happen to me or you, right?  More than likely no, but who knows just how much gaming is affecting us beyond just the realm of me or you. 

Yes, good things can definitely come out of gaming.  I've made countless friends in game and in real life because of it.  I've traveled across the country several times to meet them and we've always had a blast.  I have two friends that met playing Warcraft.  They now have two beautiful girls and couldn't be happier.  Such good stories are all to often kept in the dark.  Keep in mind though, I'd imagine the tales of loss be much more than the tales of marriage when it comes to MMOs and real life acceptance. 

I guess what it ultimately comes down to is you.  You making the decision to sit and game, or go out and be social.  Do you spend that extra hour a day with your significant other, or do you spend it pwning noobs?  There is nothing wrong with doing some pwning, but keep in mind the feelings of others and the consequences that may come should you choose the games over them to often.  Remember, gaming is more than just you earning and developing relationships with virtual characters.  It can also define how you earn and develop relationships with people you already know and love.  Don't neglect the latter to much.

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