With advances in entertainment technology, online computer games are becoming increasingly popular. They can either be seen as a source of entertainment to those who can control their play-time, a source of wasted time, or even a dangerous medium through which enthralled players begin to find increasingly difficult to quit. This topic is both interesting to me and worthy of study. This is because the issue of extensive use of online games affects almost every age class and culture. It is a widespread topic that has only recently come to notice as a serious subject.
Online game addiction has been known to cause serious emotional and psychological harm to diverse players from around the world. That is the reason why the study of such a matter is relevant. In the case of this essay, the topic of online gaming has been narrowed down considerably because of the large scope such a topic entails. Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), but more specifically, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) will be studied, as well as the focus of their association with teenagers.
This age class was chosen because it is the class of whose behaviour and motives I am most acquainted with, and therefore it is the easiest to discuss from a psychological point of view. The research question for this topic has been chosen to consider the aspects previously listed. The research question for this investigation is: “What are the social and ethical issues associated with popular massively multiplayer online role-playing games, with respect to teenagers playing excessively? “.
There are several social and ethical issues that apply within the topic.
These are: the players’ mental and physical health, reduced mental and physical stimulation due to addiction, financial security and lack of social interaction. The fact that almost all online role-playing games include privacy and anonymity into their interface is important to analyze. Many people that are actively involved in these games suffer from low self-esteem or poor self-image problems. For some, it would be a relief to be able to show others a better image of how they see themselves, for example, an avatar. With an avatar, players can create their own character, or base the appearance after themselves.
1 Players with low self-esteem can hide behind these representations of themselves and talk to others more easily than they could face-to-face. The only way for two players to get to know one another when online is through instant online communication, or through digital voice communication, making it significantly easier for players with poor self-image to make friends and join social networks. The only way such a player can be judged is through what they say to other players when online. Additionally, many players find that their online gaming causes them to forget about their real life.
They can escape to a world where they do not have to worry about real problems such as money or profession. This would come as a relief to many of these players. An active player can immerse himself in the world of the online fantasy game, where he is a different character, perhaps not even human, and can interact and join with others like him. This is the main reason why platonic and romantic relationships are built so easily in an online game. Players begin to trust other players very highly when they stick together during a quest or other group excursion.
They find that they feel very close to others that would help them out in a rough situation, and generally develop close rapports with other players. Many players, for example, may tell others secrets very dear to them because the others would not be able to judge them due to their anonymity. Online players who feel that they cannot control their lives can feel like they make a difference when playing online games. This is because the most popular games such as World of Warcraft or EverQuest support group efforts, or guilds. In each group, there are several positions of power to choose from.
The most powerful in-game player would most likely become guild leader. In this way, players who feel that their lives are not going the way they want them to can feel in control and responsible through the usage of their in-game avatar. Players can get the satisfaction of being looked up to by others, and can decide where to go and what to do next. These things may not be possible for some players outside of their gaming. One male player that has become addicted comments, “I’ve always been shy around people and never had a great social life and online gaming pretty much become the outlet for that.
I’ve basically spent every waking hour online playing games so I could basically make up for my poor self-esteem in the games by leveling my characters so I’d be better than most and socializing a lot so I’d become a liked person. I recently tried to quit EQ, but after a month I was too bored with normal life again so I got sucked right back into it. “2 The mechanics of many online games ensure that players get caught up in the process quickly and feel good about it. The most popular games have a rewards cycle that is designed to make them want to play more and more.
Most games work by increasing your avatar’s statistics by a large margin each time you gain a level. However, players find that the more they play, the longer it takes to advance in level. Since this cycle requires a lot of determination and effort on the player’s part, the designers of the game made to overlap several rewards cycles. This ensures that every player is relatively close to at least one goal, driving them to play more and more and extend their subscription. Additionally, many popular online video games include many aspects into their games so as to make them immersive for their consumers.
Many games employ different areas of the game which open for a short time for only one day, for example, where there may exist virtually valuable items or equipment. Online games also employ safe spots where players must travel to be able to save their games safely. Details such as these ensure that players stay as long in the game as they can so that they will have to pay more for further usage. Qualities such as these make the game immersive. In view of the fact that online games allow players to create their own avatars, games make it very easy to become immersed in their fantasy worlds.
As a result, players that become addicted to the online games due to extensive usage tend to believe that they truly are the character that they have created. This kind of intensive immersive association between player and avatar creates a sense of belonging. Players begin to feel empathetic towards their created character and feel that they are their character when outside of the game also. This would in turn influence the player to play for longer periods of time and contribute to the character’s well-being through in-game activities. This is why the in-game mechanics of online computer games are so important for businesses.
Another reason why so many players are immediately attracted to online fantasy games is because many players feel as if the worlds created in the game are much more ideal than real life. One player comments about the differences between the real world and the fantasy game EverQuest, “The sad truth is that in many ways EQ is better than RL. It is easier to succeed in EQ, I can be beautiful, fit and healthy in EQ – in real life I am chronically ill and there isn’t much fun or achievement to be had. EQ is more than just an opiate, and much more than just a game. In a very real sense EQ gives me an opportunity to feel free. “
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