What’s New in Social Gaming
With 3 billion players across the globe, video gaming is definitely not an isolated pastime where gamers live in their own virtual worlds. Many gamers use the gaming platforms much like traditional social media. Called social gaming, this is where they create communities, chat with fans, socialize, trade, attend live events to watch and comment on together, and more…always more.
What counts as social gaming?
According to the International Social Games Association (ISGA), social gaming includes everything from single-player games that have a leaderboard, like “Candy Crush,” to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs), like “World of Warcraft,” and everything in between. Playing multiplayer online shooters like “Call of Duty” or “Fortnite” against other people is one of the most popular ways to connect.
To most people, social gaming also includes the online communities that have grown up around gaming, the most exciting part of the whole scene. So, let’s look at some of the fun ways gaming has gotten social.
Shared worlds online
Online multiplayer games are the most obvious example of social gaming, and with the different games with different approaches, some of them are downright captivating.
- Building games like “Roblox” and “Minecraft” let players create worlds together.
- Open world games like “Grand Theft Auto Online” enable large groups of gamers to play in the same massive sandbox.
- Esports games like “DOTA 2” let teams compete for a chance to win actual prize money, or even get paid as a professional gamer.
- Multiplayer games like “Elden Ring,” which came out in February 2022. It’s a single-player game, although gamers are able to summon other players into their game world for a co-op session, leave messages and hints for other players or even invade other people’s games. It adds a super fun layer to the game.
Of course, whenever you’re playing with other people like this, you need a way to communicate with them. How you do depends on the game—and how you like to play. Many games have built-in voice communication and chat features, so players on the same team can work together. However, there are also third-party services that give gamers more control.
“TeamSpeak 3” and “Steam Chat” are two of the biggest names that allow you to chat while gaming. If you join a guild (which we’ll look at in a moment), don’t be surprised if you’re asked to use one of them.
Gaming communities and chat apps
Online gaming communities are one of the most important aspects of social gaming, and they take many forms. You can find communities built around specific games, or for different kinds of gamers. Sometimes you’ll see them called “guilds” or “clans.” Many of them are open to anyone, while others have specific entry requirements—or are invite-only.
“PMS Clan” (PMS for Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers) is one of the best examples. It was created in 2002 as a safe space for female gamers, and it has grown into a 60,000-strong community with regular gaming sessions, meetups and other events.
Many online gaming communities use Discord, a chat app similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams—except just for fun. Anyone can set up a server, either for their friends or gaming group, or around a specific topic or game. You can find all the public servers by searching online.
Discord is huge. The official Minecraft Discord server, for example, has 800,000 members. Discord servers can have both text chat channels and voice chat channels, which work like chat rooms for gamers. People can just hang out or game together.
Streaming live and on YouTube
Gaming’s social side has turned gaming into a spectator sport, where you watch other people play games. Once you’re set up, it’s a great way to learn how to play different games, find new games to try and meet people to game with.
Twitch is the biggest community to see people stream their games live. People watching can talk to each other—and the Twitch streamer—using the built-in Twitch chat. A lot of people also post to YouTube Gaming.
Overlapping social layers relies on fiber
The social side of things is now a huge part of gaming. If you like playing “Valorant,” for example, you’ll probably enjoy it even more if you join the Valorant Discord server and watch top Valorant streamers on Twitch. You might even find new people to play with while you do.
And it’s like this for almost every game. It’s one of the reasons why people who mostly play single-player games need good, reliable internet.
Game availability may have changed and is subject to change.