The Social Network?


In a community of saturation, the evergreen Minecraft has long held the top 10 on the Gaming Charts becoming the highest selling modern videogame. In it’s cubic worlds of inter-continental biomes and diamond swords, Generation Z has unleashed its creativity forming global servers of Hunger Games battles and skyscraper construction sites.

People often say it’s a small world, but in this community that couldn’t be farther from the truth… welcome to the universe of video games. There are now over 1.2 billion gamers worldwide (and very quickly growing) who have created their own culture in online life. When people think of gamers, they often think of people glued to their screens staring off into space, to some extent this is true. On first impression, gamers look addicted to screens of flashy colours and explosions. It’s no surprise parents often tell their kids to “stop gaming and be more social!”

But, if you look a little closer, you can see that gaming is acutely one of most social activates of our generation. I caught up with gaming superstar Jordon and asked him what he thought about the perception that gamers are anti-social “I think the word antisocial is rarely used to describe people who play games, because the community that they play in is social in itTself. For example, I wouldn’t be friends with half the people I am friends with now if I didn’t play League of Legends, it gives us a common experience to bond over, and I think people who don’t play games like League, still understand this through their own experience.”

Minecraft towers built by a Saints student. The highest tower reaches over 50 blocks. Minecraft is the most popular game amongst grade 8’s.

This raised a deeper question, why do gamers view themselves as social while their parents don’t. The answer may lie in the experiences that a gamer has on their device that only they will understand. I asked Jordon how gaming has been a social experience in his life? “Like I previously mentioned gaming creates experiences to bond over. For example, me and a couple others joined a BC wide League of Legends tournament, and losing on the first round, dropping into the loser bracket, and coming back to get second over all was an experience that I’ll never forget, and the experience we had of eating afterwards with the prize money in also something I’ll never forget.” Parents may view gaming as negative because they have never played and felt these experiences for themselves, they have never really “been” in a game.

A Minecraft Cathedral built from sandstone and cobblestone blocks.

But there is also a case for the parents taking their son’s technology away at night. We wanted to explore the concerns of parents and asked Jordon how gaming has negatively impacted his life? To an extent, things that are a direct result of me playing games include an irregular sleep cycle and functioning on low amounts of sleep, however, without playing games, my friend group would be severely limited as it stands, the Saints League of Legends group is sitting at 52 members. And although it sounds ridiculous to say, the doors it opens socially are ridiculous.

Games like Super Smash Bros and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, have ushered in an age where teamwork and collaboration is practiced on desks and star-striking military strategy is crafted at bus stops. With all the city sieges and clan battles I wondered what games have taught Jordan about teamwork? He said “I think that team work is built in games like Counterstrike or League of Legends, where you get a perceivable advantage by being able to communicate with your teammates, the latter requiring an unexpectedly high level of communication. These games also provide a realistic sense of teamwork, often when we practice teamwork in real life, it’s an ideal situation, friendly, no pressure, and enjoyable, however in League that is often no the case. Not only do you have to deal with pressure from you teammates to perform. You also have to keep your emotions in check particularly in difficult situations, not often seen in real life simulations.”

League of Legends Graphics
League of Legends, the most popular game played by grads and grade 11’s. With an estimated saints community of 50+ boys.

From the research conducted, both arguments hold merit and stand as reasonable perspectives. The solution lies in compromise, gamers should absolutely be able to game, but they should play in moderation. If a gamer plays for a responsible, self regulated amount of time they can be a part of the gaming community and not risk lost sleep. The key to building gaming discipline is for every gamer to know when it’s time to put the games away, but also for parents to embrace what gaming is, the cradle of a modern youth quake. If both sides work together, they will find success – allowing gamers to have player freedom and give parent’s some peace.