• arohi bhattacharya

Promoting Socialization via Video Gaming

As we enter 2021 with our personal resolutions and aspirations of a year anywhere remotely better than 2020, the United States continues to face the most severe consequences of the pandemic with cases and deaths reaching peak numbers daily. Between the political denial from the Trump Administration of the recent election to the 0% ICU capacity in once-blossoming cities like Los Angeles, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to see the positives in our current situation. Yet, video gaming presents one, with recent studies showing a promise of socialization through gaming.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, commonly known as the CDC, says that social isolation, loneliness and stress has skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic, especially in teenagers. However, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada found that digital games can reduce this stress in people by collaborating with others virtually.

Computer science researcher Regan Mandryk says that the perceived definition of gaming for most people is someone sitting in a dark room concentrated on a violent video game alone for hours at a time. However, the reality is that most gamers play for fun and a release of stress and anxiety, where they can communicate with other players on solving tasks and accomplishing the goal of the game.

Online games can provide a greater sense of control over our environment and unity with others, which help us deal with stressful times in our lives,” Mandryk says. “Games offer unique benefits over other, more passive forms of entertainment.”

Mandryk says that gaming presents a different and more positive form of entertainment over a screen compared to watching a TV show or movie because of the way it engages participants and its interactiveness.

A lot of the traditional ways in which we recover from stress — you think about watching a movie or reading a book — they're really good at psychological detachment and relaxation. But they don't really provide us an opportunity to experience mastery or control.”

Gaming has become extremely accessible during our time in quarantine, especially one multiplayer game called Among Us that many teens have begun to participate in, a prime example of how gaming promotes social and safe interactions.

The game requires groups of people to find one or more “imposters” while completing tasks on a map in order to win the game. With the extreme worldwide popularity it has gained, from social media influencers to regular people like you and me, the game’s positive results are endless: people are increasing their tactical and social skills, gaining friendships with a diverse amount of people and all having fun while doing so.

Many researchers all across the world have found conversation, even just the slightest form of it online, to be essential in the growth and development of our incoming youth. When we open our mind and expand our understanding of what gaming can be, it can present an array of opportunities and possibilities to further ourselves in a time of international despair. The next time you think about a video game, remember to seek the positive side and play it to its fullest extent.