Every day students can be found after school practicing their social skills and interacting with their friends. Yet a different world exists for some students, a world where skills are measured through bars that fill up as physical practice occurs and where talking to friends is done through a text bar.
Millions of students “inhabit” such visual worlds through online social gaming.
Socially, online gaming is much better than regular video games. While normal video games can be a way for students to excape from reality, only games force players to interact with others to finish the game.
While not all of the other players that students might encounter are friendly and polite, in some cases longterm bonds of friendship can be formed.
Senior Chesney Denton met his girlfriend through playing Final Fantasy XI online.
“We first met through the game, and then after a long time of playing together started talking outside of the game through AIM and myspace,” Chesney said. “Eventually we decided to meet in the real world.”
Relationships in online games are not guaranteed, though.
“Really the only way to become acquainted with a person is if you’re both high ranking members of a really large [group],” Senior Jay Danver said. “Otherwise people might occasion say hi or joke with you when you play with them, and then after [completing an objective], never talk to you again.”
Still, there is at least some social interaction present, no matter in what dose it comes, which is more rewarding than playing alone by yourself at home.
“Unless I’m playing a game with friends at home, I’d rather be playing on online game,” junior Albert Chau said. “That way I get to both enjoy the game and occasionally talk to people.”
Online games should always be played in moderation. Recently, there has been much controversy over the hospitalization of some World of Warcraft players after playing the game nonstop for several days without any regard to their physical condition.
Although such events are the most extreme of examples, games such as World of Warcraft can have an extremely intense influence on the player. Real-life relationships and academic records can be ruined by players who are unable to realize when enough gaming is enough.
“There have been times when I‘ve spent way too much time on it and let my homework suffer,” senior Rusty Haron-Feiertag said. “But through that, I’ve grown some self-control and know when to stop now.”
Online multiplayer games have become one of the cultural phenomenons of the 21st century, and can be a rewarding experience full of entertainment and socializing. But, as in most forms of pleasure, it’s up to students to be mature enough to draw the line between having fun and being addicted.