To the outsider, the act of spending hours entering inputs into a video game may come across as not only mind-numbing, but possibly sociopathic. All those hours spent isolating ourselves from the world, it’s no wonder that gamers are some of the weirdest and most antisocial folk about – right?
Well, it’s an understatement to say that gamers know better. Although we’ve had to endure years of misconceptions regarding our favorite pastimes, our convictions toward the marvel that we see in modern videogames remains steadfast. While the uninitiated will see nothing more than cretins blaring at changing shapes on a screen, us gamers know that what’s taking place is something far, far grander.
Gone are the days where physical limitations stood in the way of meeting new people and making new friends. Now, every match played or level gained online affords us the opportunity of interacting with others from across the globe. Yes, many of those strangers may be ready to hurl expletives at us as soon as we show them up in a public forum, but we know that there are diamonds in the rough.
While many choose a bombastic night out on the town, a significant amount of us are opting to meet our friends in worlds beyond our wildest imagination. Sharing adventures as multitudinous and imaginative as those that join us along for the ride is one of the rarest blessings afforded to our generation. Yet video games – and our relationships with them – are in their infancy. There are now more games being pumped out than at any point in history; offering an ever-increasing number of varied experiences. Soon, we’ll come to a point where anything that we can dream up we can simulate, and anything that we can simulate we can happily spend countless hours plugged into.
Digital social circles
The question we must ask then, is what will the future of socialisation look like in the next twenty to fifty years? As our cities become more densely packed, our physical spaces more crowded, and our wages perpetually stagnant, the potential for individuals to turn inwards and toward technology for their primary means of communication will increase exponentially. Should the present course hold, we’ll be living in a world where the concept of vacations to natural monuments will become the domain of the privileged and wealthy – while most of us look to mass-produced and easily accessible technological entertainment and societal participation. In this proximate world, we will be using VR in ways we can scarcely imagine at present.
Of course, that’s purely the dystopian view of perceiving a potential future. The rosy, more optimistic view is that this ever-increasing technology will be leveraged in a way that will only further expand upon the potential that already lies within. With the last twenty years of technological advancements in video games having brought us so much. It’s hard not to believe that the only way is up.
But this revolution won’t be solely tied to play. As our world becomes increasingly more interconnected, the opportunities for instant collaboration across massive distances becomes far greater. Suddenly, the virtual worlds that we relegated solely to play become something much, much more.
This brave new world is still on the horizon for us, but it is a horizon that is fast approaching. Just as our relations to physical spaces keep us within certain feedback and interaction loops, so too will the virtual landscapes of the future. For those that doubt, simply spend an evening attempting to refuse the calls of your fellow clanmates coaxing you into a night in your favourite online battle arena – you’ll understand just how powerful the yoke can be.