Video games have always been, in some way, a social activity. First, there were arcades where young people could gather around their favorite machines and compete or cheer each other on, and later there were multi-player home consoles and even remote connection options.
Today, however, the social world of gaming has expanded enormously such that it now includes a multi-faceted world and, during the pandemic, a whole new audience turned to the community for connection.
Part and parcel of the expanded social world of gaming today are all of the parallel platforms that have sprung up around this sphere. So, while playing collaboratively or competitively is still important, it’s not the only social aspect to gaming anymore. Rather, the following platforms and tools have all contributed to an expanded sense of community that stretches across the globe, shapes careers, and leads to wonderful friendships.
One interesting aspect of the gaming community today is the world of competitive video gaming. Today there are huge leagues and competitions and people even earn money playing video games, whether in competitions or through streaming and associated sponsorships.
As with any other serious pursuit, the profitable and competitive digital worlds have spawned peer communities, enabling players to connect with each other to plan collaborations and share both gaming and industry tips.
Simplified Social Integrations
In order to have a thriving competitive gaming community, gamers need to have access to in-game features that support connection, and it’s now easier than ever to integrate friends lists, guilds, and live play features into video games. These features can actually make or break a game’s success today as more players seek out remote social activities like playing games to make money, and video games fill in for movie nights and board games with friends.
The World Of Chat Platforms
As with other hobbies, gamers often seek out other community members even when they aren’t in the midst of a campaign or mission, and the result has been the proliferation of gaming-related chat platforms. Of these sites and apps, the most popular is Discord, an app that was built to connect gamers, but has since expanded to host a wide variety of groups and was recently acquired by Microsoft.
There are, however, other smaller chat platforms, such as Guild, which was bought out Roblox and, of course, there are countless message boards and subreddits centered on video games. When gamers want to find their kin, they know where to go.
The Social Experience
Gaming communities and the platforms themselves, which often include in-game text and voice chat, are so important to how many teens and young adults socialize today that they’ve actually been characterized as the latest form of social media, and they’ve even managed to attract people who don’t actively play themselves.
On apps like Twitch, people can tune in to see their favorite streaming personalities play games while talking to them about other topics, or join secondary boards on video game community pages where gamers share their other hobbies. In this way, video games are the starting place for connection and open up broader social communities.
We no longer live in a moment when playing video games can be characterized by hiding away in your room, as many parents might have declared in years past. Video games catalyze friendships and even careers – what could be more connected to the wider world and to other people than that?