Forming Identities for Individuals and Communities through Interactive Social Gaming


This paper explores Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), Massive-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), Social Media Gaming, Streaming, and E-Sports, and the affects that these platforms may have on day-to-day offline (non-Internet) life. It will make reference to 23 peer-reviewed articles to argue that online gaming has provided an escape from reality into a world where players are able to mould their identities, build communities, and experience interactive virtual realities with the ease of just logging in. It concludes that gaming can be good for people, including adolescents, if they use it moderately and correctly. It will outline the ways that this can be done, and the potential outcomes of this. It will also consider counter-arguments, including the affect gaming has on mental illness. This paper will explore how gaming and online (Internet) digital socialization can affect that way that people interact and maintain healthy social lives positively through statistics because offline and online life is closely linked. It will also argue that gaming helps connect people regardless of physical or circumstantial difference, and presents significant opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Keywords: Online Communities, Gaming, MMORPG, Internet Gaming Disorder, Game Teams, Clans, Social Media, Digital Socialization, Online Identities, Virtual Realities, Interactivity, Mental Illness, Streaming, Role-Playing, E-Sports, Multi-Player Games, Social Networks, Online Platforms


Gaming is often viewed with the same stigma as online dating is, due to fear of the unknown and the incomprehensible, particularly for older generations. Adolescents who game are usually under scrutiny by friends, family, and even strangers, regardless of what gaming might mean to them or do for their lives (Nam, 2017, p. 160). Due to the increased world-wide popularity of smart phones, applications, cloud storage, and social media, however, the line between the virtual and the real world is becoming more blurred. When the Internet was first introduced, it was more thought of as “other”. Now, many people would not be able to undergo their daily routines without the assistance of the Internet and their mobile or technological applications. People are relying more on it, which means that gaming is becoming less of an “other” activity. Whether a person is playing an MMORPG or simple social media games, such as “Farmville” or “Candy Crush”, they are still contributing to the regular use of online gaming that goes towards positive mental and social development in other areas (Malecki, 2017, p. 3).


There are results from a study by Kowert et al. (2015, p. 51) that counteract the argument that IGD is an issue, stating that rather than causing psychological or psychosocial issues, gaming provides a platform where individuals can build themselves and flourish in a social environment that is accepting and not immediately intimidating. Most gamers will argue that their use of gaming, regardless of the amount of violence involved, can be an effective method to reducing pre-existing stress. A study by Roy and Ferguson (2016, p. 14) discovered that stress levels do reduce when people are participating in gaming that is competitive and collaborative. 75% of gamers believe that they have made close friends due to online interactive play, and 40% of gamers discuss offline real-life problems and help come up with solutions while they are playing games online with their team (Kowert et al., 2014, p. 385).

Bargeron and Hormes (2017, p. 388) claim that IGD is a valid mental disorder. IGD is defined by people who are addicted to gaming regularly, and without gaming may experience withdrawal or cravings. They are likely to relapse if they have quit, regardless of how much time has passed. Bargeron and Hormes (2017, p. 393) also claim that frequent gamers can be parallel to drinkers, smokers, and gamblers in particularly bad cases, and that those who experience IGD are usually less satisfied with their lives, and are therefore more likely to be impulsive and self-destructive.

Rewards may also be a reason why gamers with IGD find it difficult to quit. Reward programs are an effective tactic that game producers use to encourage players to keep gaming. It means that they will receive a reward if they complete tasks or goals that have been set out by the storyline that the game follows, even if it is as simple as cake baking shop upgrades. A lot of the time, the upgrades are what keep players online, especially if it would normally cost real money (Huang et al., 2017, p. 399).

A study conducted by Eklund and Roman (2017, p. 284) discovered that students are 1.5 times more likely to make friends if they disclose that they are gamers later in the school year, rather than straight away. Regardless of this, games can change the way that students interact, and can motivate friendships within a school if students play on the same servers. It is imperative that if people are going to start gaming, or parents are going to let their children game, that they strive to stay active in other areas, or that they at least try to be social within the gaming world, because those who are more socially active online are reportedly less likely to experience problems with gaming or offline socializing later in life (Carris, Rooij, Mheen, Musci, Xue, & Mendelson, 2017, p. 472).

The average gamer spends between 10-20 hours gaming throughout each week (Kowert, Vogelgesang, Festl, & Quandt, 2015, p. 51). People are more likely to play frequently if they have made online friends that they cannot meet in person, which can affect their offline lives (Domanidi, Festl, & Quandt, 2014, p. 107). The more often that players interact with other players and build friendships in an online context, the more likely they will drift from offline friends if they are not gamers (Kowert, Domahidi, Festl, & Quandt, 2014, p. 385). Gamers who want to quit gaming, or think that they spend too much time gaming, usually do not make the move to change because they feel they are breaking the trust of their teammates. When signing up for games, particularly online interactive ones, a player will often feel a sense of loyalty that they must uphold in order to successfully play out the scenarios that each game will introduce (Huang, Huang, Chou, & Teng, 2017, p. 398).

Eklund (2014, p. 527) argues that online and offline life is closely linked, with leisurely activities like socializing, sharing hobbies, information, and footage, making day-to-day interaction become increasingly digital. Due to players working together to support an overall goal or gain for their game-play, they are easily able to build relationships through similar characteristics and mindsets. Similar to working and sporting relationships, social gamers are linked through their accomplishments and active movement through challenges (Eklund, 2014, p. 528).

E-Sports is another gaming arena that needs to be considered. Game teams, also known as “clans”, are made up of real players competing virtually in tournaments across the world (Martoncik, 2015, p. 208). E-Sports can help people who are seeking a place to belong, where they can exercise their mental power and their gaming abilities in a non-threatening and comfortable environment. It allows for communities to come together without the blurring of physical distraction and interpersonal bias. They are able to exercise various physical abilities without physically having to work for them offline, which is largely why E-Sports are popular amongst gamers who lack regular physical activity or ability in their lives.

The attraction to online gaming is that of an elaborate world of fiction, not dissimilar to the narrative found in books and film. Unlike these platforms, though, gaming provides the user the opportunity to participate within the narrative, and, most of the time, change how it plays out, and how it ends. It provides more than books and film because it gives the player the ability to exercise their mental strength, using various techniques and strategies to overcome difficult puzzles. It also allows players to interact with other people, building upon the realistic approach towards community problem-solving and collaboration (Martoncik & Loksa, 2016, p. 127). There is significant culture surrounding gaming because of the ability that it has to connect everyone regardless of age, gender, education, sexuality, ethnicity, finance, or social status. This is particularly attractive for people who struggle with difference due to social anxiety or mental issues (Eklund & Roman, 2017, p. 284).

There are many effective ways that a gamer can experience positive emotional and mental growth through gaming. MMORPG is an online gaming platform where people can pretend to be different characters, build virtual lives, and fight for imaginary universes that seem more real the more a player immerses themselves into scenes (Lundmark, 2015, p. 54). Games like “World of Warcraft”, “Guild Wars 2”, and “Skyrim: Online” fit into the MMORPG field. Modern skills can be used and fine-tuned when becoming involved in an MMORPG space. It is easier to comprehend when used with 21st Century skills, so it is important that those going into MMORPGs understand the skills that they will need if they are to actively help their team (Sourmelis, Loannou, & Zaphiris, 2016, p. 41).

During the past decade, MMORPGs have increased to over 50 million players around the world. This is largely due to the welcoming nature of online communities within MMORPG, where many players experience less loneliness and social anxiety when playing online, compared with what they may experience in the offline world (Martoncik & Loksa, 2016, p. 127). Playing MMORPG with offline friends, however, strengthens community relationships and enhances the offline lives of gamers (Snodgrass, Lacy, Francois, Dengah, & Fagan, 2011, p. 1211), because gamers are more likely to bond if they find that they are physically located close by to someone in their team (Trepte, Reinecke, & Juechems, 2012, p. 832).

Online gaming works to build teams and trust within a community because MMORPGs would not work without active participation, interaction, and cooperation between players in a team or guild within a virtual environment (Lundmark, 2015, p. 54). Using microphones to speak with guilds, teams, and clans is likely to increase trust within an online community. This produces a realistic affect, that differs drastically from the isolation that involves collaborative play through text message (Williams, Caplan, & Xiong, 2007, p. 427). Through voice communication, they are able to put a mental sound to the characters that they are collaborating with in MMORPG communities. This kind of gaming is more likely to produce strong online friendships, and reliability to stay online as individual gamers as a way to continue communication between teammates and friends.

Henaff, Michinov, Bohec, and Delaval (2015, p. 84) discovered that socialization is more common when people have the choice to remain anonymous. This is not due to their lives being necessarily embarrassing or awful, but rather it is because anonymity allows them to connect with individuals or groups regardless of difference. In the offline world, people find it more difficult to make friendships or connections with others if they are different, even in small ways such as eating habits or similarities in the watching of film or TV. In the online world, it is much easier to connect on a single similarity, and to continue from there, centring the friendship around that single thing. Gaming is a social hub that encourages positive anonymity through interaction and end goals. “Twitch” is a program that can exercise this, where social gamers film, or “stream”, their gaming so that others, the more antisocial or less confident gamers, can watch. Players that subscribe to this content are seeking information and social interaction, particularly if they are having trouble figuring out puzzles within a game on their own (Sjoblom & Hamari, 2017, p. 985).

Since Internet connectivity was introduced to the virtual world, gaming has become a much more interactive and friendly experience. Rather than only sharing controls with the person beside you on a console, people are now able to connect from a worldwide spectrum, sharing the gaming experience regardless of physical boundaries (Kowert & Oldmeadow, 2015, p. 556). Gamers can connect with people they may have never crossed paths with offline. They are able to share information and learn from one another both in online and offline contexts. Social gamers game with older friends or acquaintances, as well as new ones that they make along the way, on a regular basis, which can positively build connections towards their social capital (Domanidi et al., 2014, p. 107). They can use this highly social environment to their advantage when they are tackling careers and personal growth. For those that struggle with socialising offline, gaming can be a great way for them to overcome their protective instincts, and this can eventually show when they are interacting outside of the virtual world, as well (Kowert & Oldmeadow, 2015, p. 557).

Social gaming can produce a positive outcome, particularly for younger minds.  It assists in cognitive and social development, offering opportunities for online collaboration and interaction for virtual communities. Social gaming encourages participation, and can teach people from a young age how to communicate with people from various walks of life (Piirainen-Marsh & Tainio, 2014, p. 1024). It is not difficult to find groups that are focused on gaming that get together, discuss games, and even game together as a group in a single physical area. Groups like these are easily found at offline events such as “Supanova” or “OZ Comic Con”, where gamers are encouraged to attend and test out different modes of new gaming releases (Reer & Kramer, 2014, p. 179).


This paper has argued that gaming provides an escape from reality into a world where players are able to mould their identities, build communities, and experience interactive virtual realities with the ease of just logging in. It has argued that gaming can be good for people if it is used in the right way, and has outlined the ways that it can be done and the outcomes from this. It has considered counter-arguments, including “Internet Gaming Disorder” and the negative affects most people misconceive to be true about gaming. This paper has introduced statistics and argued that offline and online life is closely linked, giving people the opportunity to connect regardless of physical and circumstantial difference. It has concluded that gaming and online digital socialization affect the way people interact and keep stable social lives in a positive light, presenting significant opportunity for personal and professional growth.


Reference List:

Bargeron, A. H., & Hormes, J. M. (2017). Psychosocial Correlates of Internet Gaming Disorder: Psychopathology, Life Satisfaction, and Impulsivity. Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 388-394. Retrieved from

Carris, M. C., Rooij, A. J. V., Mheen, D. V., Musci, R., Xue, Q., & Mendelson, T. (2017). Video Gaming in a Hyperconnected World: A Cross-Sectional Study of Heavy Gaming, Problematic Gaming Symptoms, and Online Socializing in Adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 472-479. Retrieved from

Domahidi, E., Festl, R., & Quandt, T. (2014). To Dwell Among Gamers: Investigating the Relationship Between Social Online Game Use and Gaming-Related Friendships. Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 107-115. Retrieved from

Eklund, L. (2015). Bridging the Online/Offline Divide: The Example of Digital Gaming. Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 527-535. Retrieved from

Eklund, L., & Roman, S. (2017). Do Adolescent Gamers Make Friends Offline? Identity and Friendship Formation in School. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 284-289. Retrieved from

Henaff, B. L., Michinov, N., Bohec, O. L., & Delaval, M. (2015). Social Gaming is InSIDE: Impact of Anonymity and Group Identity on Performance in a Team Game-Based Learning Environment. Computers & Education, 82, 84-95. Retrieved from

Huang, H., Huang, L., Chou, Y., & Teng, C. (2017). Influence of Temperament and Character on Online Gamer Loyalty: Perspectives from Personality and Flow Theories. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, 398-406. Retrieved from

Kowert, R., Domahidi, E., Festl, R., & Quandt, T. (2014). Social Gaming, Lonely Life? The Impact of Digital Game Play on Adolescents’ Social Circles. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 385-390. Retrieved from

Kowert, R., & Oldmeadow, J. A. (2015). Playing for Social Comfort: Online Video Game Play as a Social Accommodator for the Insecurely Attached. Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 556-566. Retrieved from

Kowert, R., Vogelgesang, J., Festl, R., & Quandt, T. (2015). Psychosocial Causes and Consequences of Online Video Game Play. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 51-58. Retrieved from

Lundmark, S. (2015). Gaming Together: When an Imaginary World Affects Generalized Trust. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 21(1), 54-73. Retrieved from

Martoncik, M. (2015). E-Sports: Playing Just for Fun or Playing to Satisfy Life Goals? Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 208-211. Retrieved from

Martoncik, M., & Loksa, J. (2016). Do World of Warcraft (MMORPG) Players Experience Less Loneliness and Social Anxiety in Online World (Virtual Environment) than in Real World (Offline)? Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 127-134. Retrieved from

Malecki, E. J. (2016). Real People, Virtual Places, and the Spaces in Between. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 58, 3-12. Retrieved from

Nam, T. (2017). Who is Dating and Gaming Online? Categorizing, Profiling, and Predicting Online Daters and Gamers. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 152-160. Retrieved from

Piirainen-Marsh, A., & Tainio, L. (2014). Asymmetries of Knowledge and Epistemic Change in Social Gaming Interaction. The Modern Language Journal, 98(4), 1022-1038. Retrieved from

Reer, F., & Kramer, N. C. (2014). Underlying Factors of Social Capital Acquisition in the Context of Online-Gaming: Comparing World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 179-189. Retrieved from

Roy, A., & Ferguson, C. J. (2016). Competitively Versus Cooperatively? An Analysis of the Effect of Game Play on Levels of Stress. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 14-20. Retrieved from

Sjoblom, M., & Hamari, J. (2017). Why Do People Watch Others Play Video Games? An Empirical Study on the Motivations of Twitch Users. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 985-996. Retrieved from

Snodgrass, J. G., Lacy, M. G., Francois Dengah, H. J., & Fagan, J. (2011). Enhancing One Life Rather than Living Two: Playing MMOs with Offline Friends. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1211-1222. Retrieved from

Sourmelis, T., Ioannou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2016). Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) and the 21st Century Skills: A Comprehensive Research Review from 2010 to 2016. Computers in Human Behavior, 67, 41-48. Retrieved from

Trepte, S., Reinecke, L., & Juechems, K. (2012). The Social Side of Gaming: How Playing Online Computer Games Creates Online and Offline Social Support. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 832-839. Retrieved from

Williams, D., Caplan, S., & Xiong, L. (2007). Can You Hear Me Now? The Impact of Voice in an Online Gaming Community. Human Communication Research, 33, 427-449. Retrieved from

15 thoughts on “Forming Identities for Individuals and Communities through Interactive Social Gaming

  1. Hi Josephine,

    I read your paper with great interest in that I certainly believe in IGD. I’ve founded myself in the grips of it and often need to extricate myself from gaming for a time to regain some perspective. I also find myself a sucker for going for those in-game rewards, as I’ve often felt like I’ve needed to achieve at least something in times when things in my life have not gone well.

    I believe one of the flaws of any research into online gaming is that it does not adequately cover all types of games and cannot be a representation of every type. Speaking from personal experience, I know games such as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption online can exacerbate stressful conditions. For example, if I was the subject of the scorn of another player in a shooting game and found myself repeatedly dying at their hand, the annoyance and need for revenge rises, and often doesn’t get remedied. Also, the provision of talking to other players is counterproductive in that it can descend into a barrage of insults that often go too far and get too personal. I’ve often witnessed players being racist and sexist, often to the point where it is harassment. These are points that could have been covered here but I have found myself that the research in this area has rarely been conducted.

    Hellstrom, Nilsson, Leppert and Aslund (2012) concluded that adolescents’ escapism into online gaming does have negative consequences on their offline world such as their education and dissatisfaction with social life. Having an escape is important, however it becomes problematic when adopted as a substitute for personal growth that is experienced when facing issues head on. Gaming addiction is linked to anti-social tendencies, sleep deprivation and health issues, so one must be careful to monitor this. You have provided good reasoning for the benefits of online gaming, and I believe there is an efficient balance that can be struck that is applied differently to every individual. Particularly social cohesion, working together towards common goals and collective problem solving are all essential for personal fulfillment. Certain these aspects should be enough to inspire more thought on whether the stigma attached is warranted.

    Thanks for a great read!

    Hellstrom, C., Nilsson, K., Leppert, J., & Aslund, C. (2012). Influences of motives to play and time spent gaming on the negative consequences of adolescent online computer games. Computers in Human Behaviour, 28(4), 1379-1387.

    1. Hi Joel,

      Thanks for your comment.

      One of my older brothers is a bit like that. I think he’s back into his gaming ‘phase’ again now. He will always go a few months gaming at least once a day, for a few hours at a time, to swearing himself away from gaming for another few months. It is a really repetitive cycle. I think it makes him, and gamers like him, feel guilty for having fun in a virtual world – probably mostly due to the stigma that surrounds it. I have even seen him judge my other brother for gaming regularly, even if he was the exact same the previous month.

      I’ve become obsessed with “Sims” lately, and I have to say that is largely due to the ingame rewards and the daily list of goals that I feel I need to compelete since I started playing. These game makers really know how to get you into the game and keep you there!

      I completely agree with what you are saying, in that I believe that each line of research into gaming should cover each kind of gamer if they are going to be able to represent it properly. However, even then, people are dynamic, and it is pretty difficult to put them into a box, as much as our minds want us to!

      Do you think that having another player kill you in a game just to make your gaming experience difficult could be classed as a strand of cyberbullying? I just commented on a paper making reference to cyberbullying within gaming, and expressed how I don’t think it’s that much of an issue – I didn’t even consider the sabotage of vengeful players. I guess people are more likely to be racist and sexist in a gaming environment because their anonymity can be guarranteed, as opposed to a social media environment where their identity can be seen and their reputation ruined for that kind of behaviour.

      Like anything in life, gaming must be done in moderation. You must drink water, but don’t drink too much or you will drown. You might need medication, but don’t take too much or you will overdose. The same can go for anything, no matter how beneficial it is in small doses.

      Awesome comments. Thanks, Joel!


      Josephine Gunther

  2. Hi Josephine,

    An interesting read.

    I do however, have some questions. The mention of gaming “provides more than books and film because it gives the player the ability to exercise their mental strength…”

    In what way would you further explain this? Reading a novel is an engaging experience that requires the reader to mentally form the image within their mind based upon the written words that describe the scenery, characters etc. I do agree that there is a mental process with overcoming puzzles and formulating strategies within games, but that is dependent on the game and is therefore on a case-by-case basis, whereby novels require this type of engagement of the mental strength regardless.

    I do particularly like the mention of, and agree, on gaming as a form to overcome anxiety and mental issues. The way gaming media, through online connectivity, can be used as a communication tool for people that suffer from social issues is well stated. Often times gaming is perceived as merely entertainment without looking at the communicative affordance of the medium, and in particular, those who are more willing and open to communicate with peers in an online game setting as opposed to face-to-face.

    I look forward to your reply to the question above.



    1. Hi Nathan,

      When I said that gaming provides more than books and film, I was referring to the ability that gaming gives players to make individual decisions, and therefore exercise their mental strength in a different way that books and film cannot provide. When you read and watch, the story is already set out, and you cannot change anything about it. Ever watched a movie, covered your eyes, and said, “I wish they didn’t do that, I wish I could change it!”? With many games, particularly MMORPGs, you can do this, and therefore exercise your mental strength in a way that produces an outcome that you desire that may be different to what it would have been, had it been a novel or a film.

      Social gaming in particular is strengthening in many mental aspects, you are very right.

      Thanks for reading my paper, and thank you for your interesting question! I hope I answered it well enough for you.


      Josephine Gunther

      1. Hi Josephine,

        That is a well thought out reply that addresses my question.

        A further question I would have then, in regards to linear gaming, which much like a the narrative is written in a way that the player is not able to change things as you state, which is possible within MMORPGs. Does this in anyway alter things?

        – Nathan

  3. Hi Josephine, I really like the way you acknowledge counter issues in your paper and consider and challenge these and then use them to support and reinforce your own thesis. You have covered a lot of research ground too. Well done! I think that online gaming sites qualify as ‘third places’ for communication and building community and enactment of identity, and that this can provide positives in many cases, however I understand and don’t discount there may be negatives, noting your examples and also Joel’s admission of being ‘in the grips of it’ (25/4) referring to IGD.

    I do have concerns about the possible effects of in-game violence. All three of my teens game. The girls engage in Sims ( and Minecraft (, while my son prefers survival games like fortnite ( and tactical shooter games like rainbow six siege (, which are massively popular. I don’t doubt these games are addictive and you outline some valid reasons and causes for this phenomenon. I can vouch for Joel’s pointer to issues like sleep deprivation amongst teens. Thanks for your thought-provoking paper Jo. Regards, Alice.

    1. Hi Alice,

      Thank you for your compliments. I really tried to express my stance, while also making reference to outside arguments that may influence the overall grounding of my thesis. I spent a whole lot of time on that research, too!

      That is the second time I have seen games being referred to as ‘third places’. Is this a common concept used in regards to gaming? What are the first and the second places, then? What sets it aside from other online communication (such as social media)?

      While violence in any case can be a worry (especially as a parent!), I really do not think it is too much to worry about, at least from my experience. I grew up with four older brothers, and they all let me play games like “Grand Theft Auto” and first-person shooter games. The most this influenced me was when my brother and I would go around the house and pretend to shoot each other. In regards to how it influenced me in real life, though, I would say it influenced me 0% negatively! If anything, it helped me be more aware of the dangers of the world, and influenced me to be more careful. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything truly violent in my life. I bet many other gamers would say the same thing. I am sure you have nothing to worry about, really; just keep an eye on them and make sure their hearts are in the right place, and they should be fine. In regards to Sims, it is probably one of the least violent games out there!

      Thanks so much for your comments and your kind words, and for reading my paper!


      Josephine Gunther

      1. Hi Josephine, thanks for your reply.
        As regards your enquiries about third places, in a basic sense, first place is the home and second is the workplace/school. However this does not encapsulate the entire theory or explanation. To learn more on third places, Steinkuehler & Williams (2006) is a good starting point, where they outline and discuss Oldenberg’s eight characteristics of ‘‘third places’’ (1999), and how the gaming world fits the criteria for sociability. Hope this is helpful. Regards, Alice.


        Oldenburg, R. (1999). The Great Good Place: Cafe´s, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You Through The Day. New York: Marlowe & Company.

        Steinkuehler, C. & Williams, D. (2006). Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as “Third Places”. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 11(4), article 1.

        1. Hi Josephine,
          As a last note, this is something I just shared with Nathan and is applicable to our conversation too.

          “Nobody mistakes virtual life for real life, even though it has an emotional reality to many of us” (Rheingold, 1993, p.33). Cheers, Alice.


          Rheingold, H. (1993). The virtual community: homesteading on the electronic frontier. Rev. ed.. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press 2000. Retrieved from

          1. Hi Alice,

            No worries at all, thank you for your replies! That is such an interesting concept. I’ve actually seen it pop up in a other papers throughout this conference. It must be a bigger concept that I thought. Thank you for sharing the article with me, I will definitely read it and look further into what defines a ‘third place’ compared to the first and second. Are the first, second, and third places terms only used in reference to gaming, or does it apply to all online communities (i.e. social media and streaming)?

            That is also a great quote you have there! You could argue against it, though. Some people’s lives are made of ‘virtual reality’ (consider jobs, studying – like what we are doing right now!, socialising, and having fun – i.e. gaming). I think that the virtual and the ‘real’ world are becoming more and more linked, to the point where the gap between the two is closing, and our concepts of them are changing by the day. Consider how reliant you are on ‘virtual life’, and the impact it has on how you go about each day. Could you live the way that you are right now if it were taken away from you?

            Thank you for your comments!


            Josephine Gunther

  4. Hoo-boy, what a read! This one certainly hits close to home as I often find myself retreating away from the stresses of everyday life into a virtual world. Formerly this took the form of World of Warcraft and I was one of those types who were constantly chasing the ever elusive in-game rewards that would make me powerful only to be obsolete in the next few months when the new patch was released.
    Although my time in the World of Warcraft is over I cannot say that it was all time wasted, in my time online I’ve made lasting friendships that contribute to the statistics that you have listed above, I would consider many of them to have improved me as a person. The real treasure of an MMORPG is not the loot but the friendships and even casual acquaintances that can be formed on a whim and maintained for a lifetime.

    Overall this was a fantastic read and I look forward to seeing how the discussion around gaming continues as we move forward, already we have seen, as you say, how it has become less of stigma amongst society.
    Perhaps in the next few years we will all be putting our Molten Core 40-man achievements on our resumes…..well probably not.

    1. Hi Kyle,

      I think everyone falls into the grips of virtual reality at some point in their lives! I actually saw something like this mentioned in the TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, where the esteemed captain of their police team discovered what it was like to become seduced by the grips of an addictive phone app with in-game rewards.

      This is a quote from the episode that I retrieved from :
      Captain Holt: Do you know I love milk?
      Gina: Uh, no.
      Captain Holt: Well I do, but it hurts my stomach. So I haven’t had milk, a beverage I love, for 19 years. Nineteen milkless years I’ve gone, but for some reason I can’t quit Kwazy Cupcakes.

      Honestly, though, I bet everyone has a least once experienced this kind of dedication to a virtual game, even if for a short spell.

      I know someone who has a friendship that has lasted over ten years from one game that they played together. Just like any social interaction/situation, you never know what gold you will find! Gaming is no exception.

      Haha! That’ll be the day everyone becomes addicted to games, and never feels guilty for it!

      Thanks for the comments/compliments, the laugh, and for reading my paper, Kyle!


      Josephine Gunther

  5. Hi Josephine,

    This was a fascinating read and I had not heard of IGD prior to reading this paper. The statistics that you introduce are quite interesting. Such as 75% of players making a friend online, highlighting the good that can come from game-faciliated socialization. Furtermore, the fact that 40% of players discuss real world issues with their ‘digital’ friends – I believe this could be an alternative to drawing judgement from real world friends and family on potentially polarising views that a user may have.

    An opinion I drew from the paper was that, as you mention – the internet is everywhere and so prominent in our everyday lives – but individuals who play games frequently can attract the stereotypes such as ‘nerds’ and stigma’s regarding frequent game participation. Given how widespread internet usage is and the growing prominence of social casual games, does this make us all nerds?

    Like yours, my paper also explores how the internet and video-game initiated conversations afford the ability to meet familiar individuals they would, likely – never get the opportunity to in the real world as you do – a few common threads definitely interlinking with our papers. A fascinating read!


    1. Hi Patrick,

      Thank you for reading my paper, and for your comments. Great question, too! I do not think that I have ever considered whether we are all nerds. The reality answer is probably ‘yes’, however the societal answer is probably ‘no way in hell’. In the eyes of society, if you use Facebook, watch YouTube videos, and play an unhealthy dose of ‘Candy Crush’, then you fit into the ‘normal’ category. If you use Facebook, watch Twitch videos, and play an unhealthy dose of ‘World of Warcraft’, however, you are much more likley to be accepted and labelled, automatically, as a ‘nerd’ by society. It is a sad, contradictory reality.

      You know that the discussions that we are bringing up are worth talking about if they keep popping up in each of our papers; now how can we turn our debates into an actual movement where change, and higher consideration on a larger scale, is made?

      Thank you again.


      Josephine Gunther

  6. Hi Josephine,
    Third places apply to places that fit the criteria, regardless of online or off. Its an interesting concept for sure. Gaming is not the only online qualifier, but I haven’t assessed other spaces. It all depends on aspects of sociability that have to be apparent. It’s a bit complex, but worth the exploration, and of course, spaces would be subject to debate as to whether they comply or otherwise. I’m still exploring it myself.
    And, you are right, I think living without the Internet would cause me grief. Regards, Alice.

Comments are closed.