The Social Side of Gaming

Gaming has grown exponentially as a social activity. What began as a stack of quarters and a duo or trio gathered around the arcade has turned into a worldwide phenomenon that allows gamers to connect through the internet. We are always looking for that personal connection with our games. Recently I read an article about the top games to play together as a couple. It got me to thinking about our social gaming habits, and I took to the internets to interview a few of my favorite gamers (including some of your UTB Geek writers) about social gaming in general and as a couple.

Let’s first look at the social aspect of gaming. As I mentioned, it goes back as far as gaming does. We’ve always played games with our friends and family. The reasons we share vary. It could be a competitive streak, wanting to be better than your BFF at Mario Kart. Maybe it’s because there’s a cool new DLC that you just have to show your partner because hey dragons are kind of badass. Maybe you share the game just because you think it is so enjoyable, and you want to see someone else discover it for the first time.

For most of us, social gaming begins at home during childhood.
For most of us, social gaming begins at home during childhood.

What did your roving, redheaded reporter discover? Well, one UTB Geek contributing author loves the competition of the game. He loves playing and working at a game, challenging his friends and family and beating them as well. Another UTBer spoke of the community he developed as a social gamer. He became a voice a justice in a social gaming network and built up over 200 people that worked together to create a safe and enjoyable haven for serious gamers free of any trolling features like cheats and hate.

I have one gaming buddy whom I’ve known for almost ten years, and we have played several different genres of games over different platforms. We have a third member in our gaming trio, as well. There will be some long breaks as life interrupts the game, but we always seem to end up on either side of a voice chat watching things blow up and laughing. So, I asked him what he enjoys most about gaming with our group. He said he enjoyed sharing achievements with each other and seeing how many different impossible scenarios he can get our group into. A little context: it was a rule of thumb in the first game we played (an MMORPG) that if he was along for the ride, mass death would ensue. It counteracted the frustration at failure that a character death breeds and quickly turned it into something hilariously fun.

Taking social gaming to a more personal level, I also wanted to explore the idea of gaming as a couple, or gaming with your significant other. Now, I will admit: I don’t play video games with my husband anymore. Our styles are too different. He’s a completionist, and I’m in it for the hack/slash/boom fun of it. I asked our UTBers, but surprisingly not many had success with gaming with their significant other, either. So, I took to my #Twits. A good portion of my twitter people is gamers and geeks, and I got a couple great responses.

One person said it’s practically a requirement to game as a couple, and he has taught several of his “SOs” different genres of games. Another experienced gamer twit, told me her style clashed with her partner’s as she was used to soloing rather than party mechanics, and his approach to his role was “frustrating” for her. She also had some of the best advice I’ve ever heard for anyone wanting to game as a couple:

My advice would be if you’re playing something together and find that your styles clash or one of you is feeling kind of left out of the actual play experience, don’t be afraid to talk about it. If it’s turning out not to be fun for BOTH of you and you can’t reach a compromise on the gameplay approach, find something else to play! There are tons of games out there, and just because you both enjoy a game separately doesn’t mean you HAVE to play it together as well!

Gaming is meant to be a social activity. Even most solo video games are now connected through services like Steam, Xbox Live, and PSN so we can all share trophies and chat with friends about the game. Do you have any great social gaming stories?

Tell me your experiences and advice in the comments below!


E is a long time blogger about a great and many things people overlook. She likes to connect the dots, fit the pieces together, and showcase the overshadowed... oh, and she likes cookies.