Written By Matt Heckler
For many gamers, playing MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and all matter of online games provides one thing that you might not expect: socialization. Although in the past video gamers have been associated with social awkwardness and general nerdery, these immersive online worlds have clearly begun to attract people from all walks of life. For many, online gaming is just a small part of their lives, as they play for a few hours here and there during their downtime. For a concentrated population of gamers, however, the connections they make to other people in their games is pretty much the only real social interaction they get.
Although it may seem like a godsend for the socially awkward at first glance, this could lead to people just being different when they have to interact with other people in the real world. Everyone who uses the internet has encountered internet trolls from time to time, and if your only real socialization with other people comes with the protection on almost total anonymity, it can lead to problems in real-life interactions. People on the internet are much more open to being complete jerks because they don’t have to actually look at you when they’re insulting you.
Socialization is a great part of what makes games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and all of the rest of the online RPGs so appealing. If you are careful to find a great group of likeminded gamers, it can really be a second family. The problem is shifting through the curmudgeonly masses, a task that is a lot more difficult than it seems at first. The primary way to meet people who don’t suck is to find a guild or clan that appeals to you, in that they want to get the same kind of things out of the game as you do. This will still take a lot of trial and error, though, because you might just find that you won’t mesh with everyone. Even if your game of choice is something simpler like Farmville or any number of other Facebook-related games, you can generally find people through the game’s group or page on Facebook.
Even if you do manage to get yourself into a great group that makes you feel welcome, it’s still important to actually step outside and talk to people face to face from time to time. Don’t let the temptation of being a gaming hermit get the best of you! Video gaming is a lot of fun, and the social aspect has gotten so much bigger in the last decade or so really brings a whole new level to every geek’s favorite hobby. Where once the extent of interaction was standing next to a stranger in the arcade, there are literally hundreds of millions of people in online games throughout the world with whom you can either have lovely interactions or rage-inducing all-caps screaming matches. Don’t be afraid to get out there and make friends, but remember that with video games, as most things, moderation is the key.