can be a mechanism for many things, but in the past, it was never considered an apparatus for being social. That’s definitely not the case in the ’10s though and although there’s nothing wrong with being a lone gamer and pitting your wits against a computer, the social aspects of games can provide much greater depth to the gaming experience.
Gamers go social
A great example of social features enhancing a gaming experience can be found in the MMORPG Entropia Universe (above right) by developers Mindark. Gamers take on the role of a colonist looking to survive on one of the six planets within the Entropia Universe by crafting, hunting and mining your way towards survival. What has been interesting and made Entropia Universe newsworthy is its currency, called PED (Project Entropia Dollars), which has a real cash value outside of the game. As well as increasing your bank balance, you could also expand your social circle by either strolling through a city and running into random people or visiting a society terminal to join groups for a hunt or a mission into space. It’s a fine example of social gaming taken to the next level and well worth exploring.
A good chat
Not all of us want to be transported to a distant land and live through an avatar, some of us just like to have a chat while gaming. A good example of a classic gaming take on social interaction can be found when you play 75 ball bingo online and opt to use the chat feature available. Bingo has always been a social game and its transition to becoming a hugely popular online game across a range of demographics is down to gameplay, fresh game themes and maintaining the social aspect of the classic formula. There is still a competitive element to the game and large jackpots can be won, but the people tend to form a community with shared interests rather than individuals looking to bankrupt each other.
Have a second life
Developers Linden Lab have stated that their creation, Second Life, is not a game, as it has no conflict or objective. Yet, you’re an avatar in a virtual world, so we’re going to classify it as another prime example of social features available in gaming. All the usual features are here that you might associate with The Sims, such as creating a character, getting a job and finding somewhere to live. However, the similarities end there as Second Life goes much further, as players interact and contribute to the world around them and things can become as complicated as in the real world, with television shows, black markets, weddings and more. “Residents” of Second Life can also attend social gatherings, go shopping and visit friends, just like the real world, but unlike on this boring Earth, you can also teleport or fly around the world.
These are a few examples of great games that have a social aspect and flies in the face of the now redundant stereotype of lonely friendless gamers. There are loads of other options out there, so why not stay in, log in and make some friends.