I am sure you would agree that gaming is fun, exciting, and provides a reliable outlet for escapism. What really makes gaming so successful is the power it has to bring people together and create connections. In this time-poor era where friends and family alike are required to schedule hangout time almost months in advance, gaming has evolved to be an important social platform.
Before I go on, I am not talking about some weird Leisure Suit Larry mystery tour of romance. Though, I am sure gaming could fill that hole if you chose it too, (maybe I should rephrase that).
Our gaming network has become a significant extension of our IRL friends. Because our time online is so precious, it's important that we get the most from our social multiplayer experiences.
The three following home truths are some easy watch points to measure whether you are on your way to finding your online 'friends for life'.
1. You Never Deal With Bullies
First rule of gaming, if someone is a bully – don’t play with them. It sounds simple but it can be hard when you want to be included in a network or gaming clan.
This is especially true when 90% of the players are great. There's always that one guy...
Unfortunately, there will be times when individuals will try to dominate or belittle others. You can live with it if, it’s a one-off, but if you intend to play with these people regularly remember this is unacceptable behavior. You do not need to put up with online bullies. I always think of them as insecure wannabes.
How we spend our time is important. Who we choose to engage our time with weighs heavily on the quality of those experiences. For most people, if you actually sat down and thought about how much time you actually spent with your parents over a year it would be minimal compared to how long you were stuck in traffic, looking at your phone or (admit it) gaming. It’s scary.
No one should waste that time with bullies. You may need to walk away from entire groups, but as you weed out the bad ones, the rewards of establishing genuine online friends are worth the effort.
2. You've Found The Right Rhythm
Finding a supportive group of friends that you feel comfortable with will make all the difference. Similar to your closest group of friends, feeling comfortable enough to express yourself is critical. Chat parties everywhere are a melting pot of personalities. Talking trash, making jokes or even occasionally focusing on the actual game will only add to your experience.
It does take time to find the right group and become familiar with one another but once you do, the benefits of a strong social group of gaming friends will become self-evident.
Through good conversation, ideas will form into a fluid level of crazy communication. Over time, you will form your own unique gaming language that further binds the relationship to new heights. The topics can be, let’s say - out there.
There will be personal stories shared: I finished my exam, I got a new job, hey I am engaged, my wife is pregnant – I have heard them all. Without realizing it, your online acquaintances will become real friends. The social benefit of such inclusion can integrate people from otherwise social fringes towards a real community of value.
Like anything, diversity in your gaming friends will be the spice of life!
3. Cathartic, Co-op Ripping & Tearing
Lastly, the forming of strong and habitual online interaction fosters the same advantages as any sporting team. You work well together. This is where strong camaraderie between your online friends will have the benefit of enhancing your gaming experience.
We do meet up to play, and when it’s on, you want it to be on like Donkey Kong. For my friends and I, the simple act of shooting stuff into tiny digital pieces removes us from our respective daily grind and provides the background for our fun to begin.
It is true that the perceived level of ripping and tearing is more than likely in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes you may only get two kills, but does it really matter? I don't think so. Most of the time, when you fail, one of your teammates will do really well. It’s the collective ripping and tearing that is the fun. An established team of gamers who bring the curry only adds to the addictive need for more gaming and good use of your time.
It's Time Well Spent
Time does have value. Monday to Friday can limit the opportunities we have to feel connected i.e. work, family, money. To be able to feel included socially can be a big chunk of what many people miss in their lives. Longing for something more, gaming has emerged to hold real value in people’s daily routine. Probably not as much as emptying the dishwasher, though - who am I to judge?
Regardless of your interest, the motive to do something well with your friends is a big draw card. With gaming, chatting and playing with friends, it's a real and beneficial way to be included in the world. It’s not the same as meeting up with friends face to face, for sure. When done right however, life long friendships will be formed and the strength of that camaraderie will be time well spent.
Do you have any tips from your multiplayer experience?