Editors note: As games grow as a medium more and more voices are being added to the discussion and culture. Today we are sharing the perspective of Genese Davis, an author and a late-comer to games, on MMOs and their benefit to society. ~LAT
Today, I’m excited to share an overview of my experience with MMOs (Massively Multi-Player Online Games). I didn’t grow up in or around the video game industry, or around video game players. I know how it feels to wonder why our friends, family, and loved ones seem “glued” to their electronics. And that’s part of the reason I’m so passionate to share all that I’ve discovered in the video game industry. It is not simply a set of pixels your children, spouses, or friends are staring at when they play games. It’s actually a whole spectrum of invention, discovery and ingenuity. Players are discovering artwork, storylines, history, skill sets, challenges, and collaborating with others on a planetary scale. But beyond all of these discoveries, MMO players are also learning and absorbing life skills and benefits that can translate into our daily lives outside the game. How so? Let’s take a look!
- MMOs Make Me an Unsociable Weirdo a Social Hero
The last time I heard my girlfriends say that video games are anti-social, I had to ask them to explain. One response: “Well, if you sit in your room playing video games, you’re not going out and meeting new people.” In that moment I knew I had to offer my two cents on the subject, because I’ve discovered the opposite. When we play video games like MMOs, we are constantly meeting new people, and not just in our neighborhoods, but we are meeting new people from all over the world. Video games are one of the most interactive and social forms of entertainment we have available.
Another listener then said, “Well, video games make you look like an unsociable weirdo.” Again I had to give a rebuttal. Video games offer a way for us to become social heroes. Fictional characters like batman and superman don’t have to be left on the comic book page anymore, they can be extended through digital art, and allow players to live the experience. Through video games, players get to save lives, restore trust, and help the public stand up against criminals. Would it be better to spend all your free time at a bar or watching television? Both of those have their pros and cons, too, but video games stand apart as a unique alternative: Instead of taking in empty calories, or watching television programs that imply you’re not good enough and you’ll lose, games teach us that we’re epic and we’ll win. Through games we learn the habits of heroes—our batteries get jumpstarted. The next time you get the opportunity to play a video game, remember this is your chance to be super-social and heroic!
- MMOs Make Me
What’s wonderful about MMOs is that they force players to be the opposite of lazy. When we play collaborative video games like MMOs we are learning an array of new information about art, technology, programming, entertainment, and community. And at the same time we are constantly challenged to solve problems, create strategies, and formulate plans to protect our team. These experiences open up skill sets for building camaraderie and teamwork that in turn can make us more proactive in both our professional and social circles.
And to touch on a more technical and scientific aspect, brain scientists like Daphne Bavelier continue to discuss the power of video games and how much they improve our cognitive functions making us smarter human beings. Communication improves when playing MMOs, as well as our ability to adapt, and make quick decisions. These multi-player games constantly challenge players, which improves awareness and cognitive responses simultaneously, and can also open up opportunities for players to utilize these unique skills outside of game-play, too! I found that after playing MMOs I was even more of an active listener. While playing an MMO, it is paramount that you maintain eagle-eye awareness and that you are always ready to help your team. What a great avenue to evolve and perfect our social skills!
- MMOs Build Up My
Building self-esteem or maintaining a sense of confidence can be difficult. Self-doubt is one of the most profound and detrimental human struggles. Thankfully, MMOs open the door for players to build confidence. When you turn on your game, you are the hero. By surrounding ourselves with positive affirmations, we are going to feel better. And when we feel better, our positive attitude will translate into positive behavior in both our professional and personal lives. Storylines in video games empower us to believe in ourselves and constantly reaffirm our importance in the mission. As players, we will often hear statements like, “We couldn’t have won without you,” “Good work!” “Thank you so much,” and “You saved us!” MMOs offer crucial validation and give players the means to enhance their lives.
- Life is Better With
Every once in awhile we all get that overworked, overtired, and underpaid feeling. Impossible demands take their toll. Students face peer pressure in school. Professionals starve for feedback in the workplace, and at home, stress feeds negativity. It is easy to blame the things around us when life gets hectic. But hobbies like playing MMOs are often not the cause of stress but the reliever of it. It might be easy to observe someone playing a video game and misinterpret that action as apathy. However, it’s important to remember that all humans need time to unwind, because when we relax our minds have the chance to process our daily stress and to rejuvenate. Video games offer relaxing entertainment that can help reduce stress. They offer a way to explore, create, and imagine—which is not something adults get to do that often.
I imagine we all have relatives who wonder, “Are video games a waste of time?” “Why does my spouse play video games in to the night?” “Why does my child want to play a video game instead of go outside and play?” “What’s got into him or her?” I ventured into the world of MMO gaming as an adult and discovered a passion for in-game community, especially in raiding teams. Working with industry professionals, I gained a deep understanding of video games and their artists, lore, culture, and development, and that’s how the story for The Holder’s Dominion was born.
I wanted to write a novel for gamers and non-gamers alike about the unpredictable and influential ways that video games change us, and to share with others the amazing experience of collaborative video games and the communities that grow up in and around them. And on March 1st, 2013, The Holder’s Dominion was published! This fast-paced story aims to bridge the gap between families and friends of gamers who wonder about the allure behind their loved ones’ fascination with video games. The Holder’s Dominion has the potential for readers to understand why people, young and old, want to play video games. The inspiration behind writing it came from wanting to create a basis for family and friends of gamers to understand them and their world. Because this book was constructed as a gateway for fans lacking deep exposure to the genre, the novel begins its exploration from the perspective of an inexperienced gamer.
The next time you see someone playing an MMO, or talking about “Raid Night,” try to see that person through a new viewfinder. Multi-player games are a wonderful way to connect with others. In the right balance video games enhance and benefit our lives. The Holder’s Dominion reveals online gaming in an easy-to-follow and riveting setting, revealing the secret side to online games, and an avenue for different generations to understand one another. As a speculative thriller, this novel is changing the perception of video games and video game players worldwide!
About the Author: Author, host, and columnist Genese Davis is a thought-leader in video game culture and its social development. Through her passion for the art community, Davis demonstrates how team-based video games like MMORPGs affect our lives and the new place video games have in fiction and other forms of media. She is the author of the new gamer fiction, The Holder’s Dominion, a breakthrough novel shaping the perception of what the term “Gamer” really means. Davis lives in Irvine, California, where she advocates for her other passion, animal rescue. To learn more, connect here: Website | Facebook | Twitter