Back in 2007, Science Daily published a report by Marko Siitonen of Jyvaskyla University covering online gaming communities. At the time, web-based multiplayer media was relatively new, and everyone involved was intrigued as to where the new interaction platform would take us in the future. Even then, the study showed that online games caused long-lasting relationships between players who would transcend chat systems by meeting in real life, talking on the phone and speaking via email.
The report also acknowledged that interactions between online players laid the foundations for blossoming online communities. In fact, online socialising was comparable to face-to-face interactions as most members shared similar interests, values and goals. Arguably, internet gaming communities are even more diverse than more traditional relationships, as people of all different ages, cultures and backgrounds can come together due to a shared interest.
A decade later, online gaming communities continue to form and grow. According to UKIE, the UK is only the fifth largest video game market in the world and yet is home to 32.4 million gamers. Of these gamers, 21% play online games regularly and so it is clear the UK has a healthy online gaming community. This is further proven by the sudden interest in eSports around the country, which an estimated audience of 6.5 million individuals coming together to watch their favourite gamers play their favourite games.
So, how to online gamers actually communicate while playing online? Usually, each platform will provide a certain kind of communication tool whether it be a simple forum or live video streaming. The latter is particularly well utilised on the social gaming website Twitch, where players can not only chat to each other over a regular chat box, but can control entire games together from all around the world and even talk via video in front of a live audience.
The iGaming industry has taken a similar approach to online communication, often offering their players the chance to chat via chat boxes and forums. Over the last few years, a number of online casinos have also started providing live dealer games, which means that customers interact with real croupiers and fellow players as though they were in a traditional, brick-and-mortar casino. The titles on offer are often varied as well, with sites like MrGreen offering Live Baccarat, Live Roulette and Live Blackjack so their customers aren’t limited to one common interest.
Meanwhile, most online MMOs and RPGs tend to provide software that allows players to communicate via headsets. Other than chat, actually speaking to each other is the way many players choose to co-ordinate their gameplay and, in turn, form relationships on games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2. Without these tools, playing as a team would be extremely difficult and the social aspect of gaming that so many people love would be completely lost.
Of course, almost every online game also has separate profiles on a number of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and, occasionally, Instagram. Really, the ways in which players can connect with each other and the individuals behind the games and sites themselves are endless. So, let us know what your favourite social online game is and whether you’ve met any good friends through it in the comments below.