“Dude, I just got pwned by Kt, can you rez me so I don’t have to run back from the graveyard?” Does this sentence make any sense to you? Perhaps not, but to millions of online gamers, it makes complete sense. Online games, also known as MMORPGs (Massive Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games), allow people to play together online from anywhere in the world. All you need is internet service, the game, and you are “g2g” (good to go).
There have been many articles over the past decade on the destructive effects of video games and especially MMORPGs. Parents and spouses of gamers complain about the negative effects of video games all the time. But what about the positive effects of online games? I know what you’re thinking “how can there be anything positive about playing video games?” The online games are more than just players running around shooting things. Online games are actual communities where people connect with each other via in-game chat, or form guilds (like a cyber club within the community) and even hook up and fall in love. I have years of experience being involved in these online communities and I can tell you that these people do more than just shoot things. For many people, these online games are the only social network they have available to them due to disabilities of one kind or another. Many of these people can not leave the house without difficulty, if at all, and so the online gaming community is the closest thing they have to connecting with people outside of their family. One woman, “Sue”, has cancer of the spine and plays from her hospital bed. Another player, “Joe”, is on permanent life-long disability due to a serious work injury that limits his mobility. The online community helps these people stay connected with others and keeps them from living a life of solitude.
Not only is it an active communication network for individuals who have little or no access to other people, but it also can bring families together. I know husbands and wives in real life who “quest” together in games. I even know a family of four who play MMORPGs, with all of them on their own computer in the living room, and all playing together. Playing interactively together makes family time more meaningful than sitting around watching television or a DVD.
Another positive effect of MMORPGs is that the games are devised where you need to work together with other players to complete quests. This means that players have to interact with each other and learn to work together to get something accomplished.
Video games and MMORPGs are also good workouts for the brain, unlike watching television which is a passive activity and doesn’t really engage the brain. Research shows that keeping the brain active is one of several factors in decreasing the chance of a person getting Alzheimer’s-games like word teasers, cross-word puzzles, video games-anything that makes you think instead of being passively entertained.
Video games and MMORPGs are like most other activities in life. You need to have moderation when playing games, just like moderation in the amount of hours you watch television, or moderation in your food portions, or moderation in whatever habits and hobbies you might have. The MMORPG communities are a viable way to connect with people from all over the world, or even within your own back yard.
© 2010 Elizabeth Duvall