Wednesday, June 25, 2008

MMOs: Do They Count as "Socialization?"
In short: yes.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMO, or MMORPG for short) involve the coming together of several thousand individuals at a time at any particular moment. The individuals that participate are typically from a vast variety of backgrounds... financial, religious, ideological, and even national and continental. Personally, in the guild I am a part of, we have people from across the entire United States (we even let in a few sneaky Canadians), and I believe every time zone is covered. We chat via typing, and in raids we open up voice chat and get to know one another a little better. Some have formed very close ties within the guild, and it's interesting to watch factions form that specialize in enjoying different tasks within the game.

One thing that causes me a sort of fascination regarding this phenomenon are people online that will sign up for sites that support the game, only to berate the individuals that play it. Some seem desperate, trying to quell the tide of MMOs that are apparently, destroying society at large. Others are very angry with the MMO community, calling it a group of losers and individuals with no lives... which is sort of odd that they would go to the trouble of signing up for such a site, and taking the time to post that on it... but I digress. There are very real communities of friends with common interests within the walls of the respective games, sometimes resulting in even closer relationships (I am currently in a relationship with someone I met while playing WoW, and in fact owe the inspiration for this post to her as she has written an article along the same lines).

Regardless, these games have generated much controversy... some people calling them "addictive," and some actually playing much, much more than they should. Even with these stories, the issue is with the individuals... clearly people that should have not involved themselves in relationships or had children in the first place, let alone been so weak as to rely on a game to replace their very existence. It's the equivalent to blaming a gun for killing a person... as far as I know, guns don't pull their own triggers. That is, unless you're talking about the new super secret bio-engineered guns that also have legs and are currently coming for YOU!

So has the rise of this type of media led to a decline in general socialization within society, or a boost? What do you think?


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