Communities and Online Gaming Uncategorized


Despite claims that addiction to MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) games being detrimental to a players mental health, they actually serve as a third place breaking conventional understandings of community and allow for players to experience a transformative sense of self, self-identity, and belonging within a community.Online gaming communities act as a virtual space that serves as a third place allowing players to, communicate, socialize, cooperate, and escape from reality within the confines of a structured community. Research undertaken in Stockholm at online gaming centers throughout 2006 and 2007 indicates that the foremost social motivators for online players is driven from these desires (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009, pp 557). MMO gaming communities such as World of Warcraft effectively engage players in a sense of community, leading to the formation of new relationships with people all around the world, allowing you to be connected to new people in new unexpected ways. The virtual reality of an online gaming community also provides gamers with a way to experience behavior that may not always be appropriate or possible in the real world, they allow for an immersive experience in an alternate reality without any real impending consequences (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009, pp 557).

MMO games create communities and allow for a source of healthy communication between players. Communication is the foundation of community; therefore, it comes to no surprise that when it comes to online gaming communities ‘It’s all about communication’ (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009, pp 558). For many gamers, the communication aspect of an online gaming community is a huge motivational driver behind online gaming. ‘The communication that takes place when gaming online occurs seems to be of the utmost importance for many gamers’ (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009, pp 558). Gaming now a days is as much about getting in touch with people as it is playing the games themselves. It allows a wide variety of individuals from various sorts of backgrounds and cultures to communicate and collaborate over a common goal. Social interactions that take place in online gaming are irrespective of a lot of parameters that play a factor in real world interaction. Such as age, gender or ethnicity. When these qualities become irrelevant in the social interactions that take place other qualities become more important such as ‘generosity, reputation, and ability to collaborate’ (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009, pp 558). These qualities become much more important than other factors such as physical appearance, gender or age. Many players of the massive multiplayer online role-playing game known as World of Warcraft have shared countless stories of the relationships formed and the experiences they have endured when meeting new people online, and the healthy long lasting personal relationships they have come to from form throughout the course of this social interaction. The foundation of these relationships quite commonly stems from the social structure that is known as a guild. Guilds in World of Warcraft are a tight knit community of players that all collaborate and work together to achieve some sort of common goal. Communication and transparency about the events taking place in the virtual world as well as in regards to social interaction because of these events is essential for players to have as players can quite often find themselves spending countless hours with one another on a day to day basis when attempting to achieve these common goals. Massive multiplayer online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft by game design are engineered so that player interaction and socialization are a necessary component of progression and by nature forces players to partake in online community interaction. Research conducted also shows that players within an online gaming community feel more secure and safe when expressing themselves. A study conducted of 912 gamers showed that online players are comfortable expressing themselves in a way that they are not or otherwise would be uncomfortable doing in the real world due to physical appearance, gender or age.

The addictive nature of online gaming and MMO’s games has many health benefits. Online games are often crucified for being addictive and detrimental to a player’s health. Many arguments have been made about the addictive nature of video games over the previous decade, MMO’s (Massive Multiplayer Online) games are at the peak of this argument. Player rewards inside MMO’s are often tied to spending strenuous amounts of time every day in these virtual worlds leading to an incentive for players to play every day all day (Kardefelt-Winther, 2014). This is turn can lead to the formation of negative habits in the form of addiction if playing video games begins to take priority over everyday activities. Addiction to MMO’s is quite common amongst teenagers but is also present in older gamers who have been playing these MMO tittles for most of their lives. While quite commonly seen as an unhealthy habit, the addiction if controlled can potentially serve as a mental escape from reality and can actually benefit a player’s mental health in a variety of ways. Anyone who has had any sort of gaming experience throughout their life time will very quickly be able to tell you that online gaming is a great way to relax and relieve stress levels, while still remaining sociable and interacting with other individuals online. Many different studies have attempted to scale the way in which it is made possible to determine when an online video gaming begins to become detrimental and negatively affect a player’s life. A system referred to as the NO (Negative Outcomes) Scale was developed and tested against gaming titles. For MMO games and World of Warcraft in particular the NO scale accesses how common aspects of your life are impacted by asking questions about your life and how it has changed or been impacted by your need to play video games. Some of these questions for example include ‘I sometimes lose sleep because of the time I spend playing WoW’, ‘I sometimes skip meals or delay my eating because I am busy playing WoW’ ‘I have had conflicts with my partner or parents over the time I spend on WoW’, ‘I have lost contact with some friends because I rather spend time on WoW’, ‘My school/job performance has suffered because of the time I spend on WoW’ (Kardefelt-Winther, 2014). There is a large variety of personal factors that play into determining the negative outcomes that video games can have, some of which include but are not limited to self-esteem, self-worth, and the need for escapism. While there is a relationship between escapism and negative outcomes on your mental and social life regarding video game addiction, it is not all black and white. If managed appropriately addiction to MMO’s and online video gaming can be beneficial to a player’s mental health.

MMO’s provide players with a sense of meaning, accomplishment and engagement. Each of these feelings in turn leads to a sense of a better mental health. An individual who feels as if they have meaning, has accomplished something, and is actively engaged in something they enjoy will in turn feel better about themselves. Involvement in meaningful activities brings a sense of purpose and fulfillment to daily life. ‘Finding purpose has been associated with involvement in activities which contribute to something larger than self’ (Christian Ejones, Laura Escholes, Daniel Ejohnson, Mary Ekatsikitis, & Michelle C Carras, 2014 pg5). In MMO’s and World of Warcraft in particular this sense of meaning can be found when working towards something greater than one’s self in the form of guild goals. As mentioned previously guilds consist of players all working together to achieve a common goal.  These goals are often referred to as guild goals has the entirety of its members are contributing in some way to make this feat possible. Collectively working as a community provides players with a sense of meaning, often sometimes filling the void of a lack of meaning in their everyday lives. The structure of a guild and its meaning could be somewhat compared to that of a sports team all working towards a common goal, with each one of the team’s players believing that they are working towards something worthwhile. When players inevitably reach or complete the goals, they have set out to achieve as an individual or community they are rewarded with a sense of achievement and accomplishment. ‘This in turn contributes to feelings of competence and well-being’ (Christian Ejones, Laura Escholes, Daniel Ejohnson, Mary Ekatsikitis, & Michelle C Carras, 2014 pg5). Accomplishment is defined as ‘having explicit goals in life and achieving these is important to well-being and happiness’ (Christian Ejones, Laura Escholes, Daniel Ejohnson, Mary Ekatsikitis, & Michelle C Carras, 2014 pg6). In the virtual world of MMO’s through structed goal setting and collaboration this same feeling of accomplishment is possible. An individual who feels accomplished has a healthier sense of well-being and will feel happier with themselves as an individual. Any frequent gamer will tell you that a high level of engagement with video games tasks in MMO’s leads to a sense of immersion. ‘Engagement refers to an emotional involvement or commitment to some object or domain of interest and to the experiential intensity of a relationship or interaction’ (Christian Ejones, Laura Escholes, Daniel Ejohnson, Mary Ekatsikitis, & Michelle C Carras, 2014 pg4). Research shows that an individual who is engaged in a task that they enjoy exerts happiness on an increased level. This trend of engagement that leaves players of MMO”s feeling fulfilled with the tasks they are completing can be seen as the World of Warcraft community has over 9.6 Million players, having spent more than six million years in the game collectively as of 2008. Research shows that individuals who lack elements of meaning, accomplishment and engagement in their day to day lives can replicate these feelings through gaming, allowing them to still feel a sense of meaning, accomplishment, and engagement within themselves online.

MMO gaming communities have grown ever so rapidly over the previous decade and so has the controversy between the link of video game addiction and mental health. However, with this growth showing no sign of slowing down, and researching suggesting that MMO’s provide a front for improved mental health, communication, collaboration, escapism, and socialization, it is important that we not only understand how these communities affect their players but how this addiction should be managed to ensure that the positive outcomes from these third places benefit each and every individual involved within an the MMO gaming genre.   

Maria Frostling-Henningsson. Ph.D., 2009, First-Person Shooter Games as a Way of Connecting to People: “Brothers in Blood”(13st Ed.) Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

Dmitri Williams, Nicolas Duchenaut, Li Xiong, Yuanyuan Zhang, Nick Yee, Eric Nickell, 2006, From Tree House to Barracks: The Social Life of Guilds in World of Warcraft (1st Ed.) Sage Publications

Kardefelt-Winther, D. (2014). The moderating role of psychosocial well-being on the relationship between escapism and excessive online gaming. Computers in Human Behaviour, 38(C), 68-74.

Christian Ejones, Laura Escholes, Daniel Ejohnson, Mary Ekatsikitis, & Michelle C Carras. (2014). Gaming well: Links between videogames and flourishing mental health. Frontiers in Psychology,5, 260.

Ferguson, C., Coulson, M., & Barnett, J. (2011). A meta-analysis of pathological gaming prevalence and comorbidity with mental health, academic and social problems. Journal of Psychiatric Research,45(12), 1573-1578.

Hopia, H., Siitonen, M., & Raitio, K. (2018). Mental health service users’ and professionals’ relationship with games and gaming. Digital Health,4, 2055207618779718.


Hi Jacob,

It is very refreshing to see a paper, article, essay etc on the positive impact of gaming on individuals wellbeing.

While I know there are many negative impacts of addiction to online gaming you have displayed here there are positives when this addiction is managed. I think that the stigma around gaming and its negative implications on peoples lives is because there is a strong focus on negative outcomes not the positive results you have listed in your paper.

Do you think that this sense of fulfilment is only with goal orientated multiplayer games? For example do you think that the same controlled addiction found with WOW could be applied to a FPS game such as COD? Or is it strictly to these goal orientated games?

I personally have never played WOW though I play Sims, Animal Crossing, Spyro, Mario etc (big Nintendo fan!). While not group goal orientated games (meaning I play alone) I feel that when I complete a level in Spyro or save up enough money to move house in Sims I have a sense of fulfilment also. Though the games I play are not of a violent nature I think it is still easy to get lost in them and have them feel like an important reality.

Really great paper though it would be interesting for further research on this same addiction to none multiplayer games to see what the differences are. What do you think the differences would be?

Hi Emily,

I liked the direction you took and the challenging questions you asked of Jacob. I myself am a gamer but do not play MMOs with other people. I rather keep to myself and complete levels in a game – that gives me a sense of accomplishment, much the same as you described in playing Spyro or Sims.

I would add to what you have said above by asking – do you think the sense of accomplishment that people feel when completing a task in a game helps them mentally to draw on that experience and use it in their everyday (offline) lives?


Hi Deidre,

I would say if the person struggles in social situations and is potentially more of an introvert then yes I think they would draw on this to bring them more confidence! Personally I do not think about my ‘success’ in games in relation to my offline life. But I definitely think that some people would!

Hi Emily!
Many FPS titles are multiplayer goal orientated at a high level of play from my personal experience so yes I do believe that they have the potential to provide the same fulfilment.

Personally I also think that multiplayer game addiction is much more mainstream but addiction relating to offline gaming does exist and is just not as in the spotlight as much.

Thanks, Jacob

Hi Jacob,
I was pleased to read your paper, the title you have chosen is straightforward to what you support. Even though I do not play online games at all, I confess that I had never thought of its benefits.

The arguments that support your position are well supported by evidence which informs your research. I believe that the biggest difference between computer games in the past and today is that players used to be more confined to their space, while nowadays, the internet 2.0 allows the level of interaction that may be actually beneficial. Therefore, the stigma of computer games would come from past perceptions.
I found it interesting that regular variables of social interactions (i.e. age, gender) are overseen in MMO, hence, online gaming could actually be at the pinnacle of a social ‘evolution’ instead of a plain fruitless addictive activity. After reading your paper, I was able to form an opinion on this topic which is just as the one you propose.


Alison McGuigan

Hi Alison! Thankyou for your input 😊
Variables such as age, gender and ethnicity not playing a factor in the socialization is a big part that I think is quite often overlooked when brushing said topic.

Thanks Jacob

Hi Jacob,

Having grown up in an era reading about gaming being the root of all evil (mostly Grand Theft Auto), I’m so happy to read a paper about the positive effects of gaming.

I find the concept of the third world where social interactions take place interesting as it can be seen as a place to socially experiment for those who would otherwise be too intimidated to in the real world. I see you have a lot of research about group goals as a positive mental influence. I would love to know if you have found anything during your research with regards to players being more confident communicating with their guild than say in real life and how this helps them develop their personal social skills.

Thank you for this paper, it was enjoyable to read and brought my attention to the positive aspects of an subject that is often dismissed as a waste of time at best and dangerously addictive at worst.

Stephanie Cheng

Hi Stephanie!

Throughout the course of my research I most certainly found that becoming more confident with communication online did lead to individuals becoming more personal with there social skills in the real world. I think the skills developed online are in some cases easily transferrable to the real world.
Thanks, Jacob!

Hi Jacob,
As someone who is not part of the gaming world, and to be quite honest, has often only come into contact with some of the negatives surrounding MMO, I found the perspective you talk about in your paper very interesting!
When you spoke about gamers being able to interact with others as part of a community free of the constraints of age, gender, ethnicity and other social parameters, social media came to mind and the very nature of sites such as Facebook and Instagram is to share. MMO allows sharing and connections without the pressure or obligation to overshare personal information which for many is reassuring.
In regards to when you spoke of gaming being addictive and the stigma that is has, I guess it is the same with many things. Regulating yourself as you suggest, allows it to be a hobby with positive benefits as opposed to an obsession, and the same can be said for social media yet I feel it does not have the same stigma that gaming does.
This paper was very insightful, great job!

Dear Jacob

Thanks for posting your paper, an interesting read for anyone who isn’t active in the gaming world.

I particularly liked the nod to VR being an incredible opportunity for people to experience things which they ordinarily wouldn’t have the chance to. It made me consider how VR could be used in disability care, let me give you an example:

A outdoor and active individual who has an accident and becomes paralysed cannot partake in the activities which made them so happy previously. VR treatment could allow them to enter a world no longer accessible to them, and likely booth mental health and wellbeing in doing so.

A bit of a rabbit hole but even in the last 10 years game design and experience has increased dramatically, I wonder where we’ll be in another 10-20 years at this rate. Sporting games are nearly at the point where an untrained eye might mistake them for live-action sports, and VR technology improving exponentially breathes air into the theory that we might be living in a simulation. If we’ve progressed this far already, who is to say that on an infinite timeline the VR world wouldn’t become indistinguishable from reality, and if this assumption is made, the possibility exists that we’ve already passed that point now…

Ok I got a little side-tracked, but I think that’s what a thoughtful topic does, it provokes further consideration from the reader. Good job!


Hi Nic!

You have a lot of interesting ideas here I have not even considered! The one about disability and age care is quite intriguing, personally I cannot wait to see where game development takes us in the next 5-10 years with the advancement of VR and other technologies.

Thanks, Jacob.

Hi Jacob,

I agree with some of the above sentiment. Entering into the gaming section of this conference I was expecting numerous papers on the negative impacts of online gaming, and although you’re acknowledging the addictive nature (which can be attributed to any enjoyable activity), you’ve managed to highlight the importance of gaming in establishing community and social interactions.
Regarding friendship, I was curious as to whether these communities and friendships ever expand beyond the gaming (e.g. real world, Facebook friends, etc.). Or do you think a lot of gamers are content with the relatively anonymous bonds they can build through their game?

Hi Lachlan!

Personally, I can tell you from my own experience that these friendships have the potential to eventually span the the real world. Having played online games for years and developed countless friendships I can happily tell you that I have met some people in real life at social events after having known them online for years and the friendship extends outside of the virtual world.
Thanks, Jacob

Hi Jacob,

I really enjoyed your paper and can see that you have put a lot of work and thought into it. Your arguments were well laid out and supported by research. Something I found especially interesting was the studies done on the Negative Outcomes and did not even realise something like that existed. It was very enlightening to read.

I also agree with what you have said about “individuals who lack elements of meaning, accomplishment and engagement in their day to day lives can replicate these feelings through gaming, allowing them to still feel a sense of meaning, accomplishment, and engagement within themselves online” and have experienced that in my own life.

Another thing I’ve experienced first hand through my husband being a gamer is how these communities have supported each other through recent events such as the massive bushfires in NSW and VIC and now the Covid-19 pandemic.

I would love to see what research and papers come out after this pandemic is over and how gamers and the communities they form have fared through all this. I would imagine people all of a sudden have a lot more time on their hands to spend on online games!

Good job on the paper Jacob!


Hi Deidre!

I too have definitely seen communities supporting one another during the current pandemic and its nice to know that everyone is looking out for one another!

Thanks, Jacob

Hello Jacob!
I enjoyed that your title was capitalised, and short n sweet. A great attention grabber!
I liked how you reinforced that games can be something so positive throughout the paper.
I would have enjoyed possibly a closer look at a gamer within a community, like an example or quote from a gamer from a study done. Did you find any during your research?
The concept of the NO system is really interesting to me. I had never heard about it before this paper, and it seems like a great method. It reminds me of how WoW will sometimes pop up a “you’ve been playing for awhile, don’t forget to take a break!”. Do you think that online gaming should promote regular evaluations via the NO method for players?
Thanks for the read!

Hi Annie!

I too thought the topic headline was quite catchy, you have proposed some great ideas and this is something I might look into even after this topic is past 😛 I did not find anything like you were suggesting but I will be looking into it. I also think that promoting regular evaluation is only a positive thing!

Thanks, Jacob

Hello Jabob,

What a great read i must say. Having played Wow before between 2005-2009, i can say that with proper time management like all things, Wow is just another social aspect and a hobby. Since gaming for me is a not a profession of any sorts, it should be treated like a hobby just like anything else such as knitting while having a warm cupper and watching television. You are right about accomplishments, such as earning a mount at level 40 and level 60, so you do not have to run around everywhere like a noobie on foot or find the nearest flight path. When it comes to skipping meals or staying up late, from time to time i have done that, but quite rare since i tend to make meals for at least five days and stock on nibbles, so food was not a factor. From time to time i had stayed up late, but it was rare since i was in Oceanic server, so i can understand if some players in Australia were in US server and playing in their times.

Thanks Jacob and an intriguing read.

Hi Kim!

Accomplishments are a big part I think of what entices people to keep playing, I think every avid gamer is guilty of addiction in some sense but as I stressed inside the paper its all about moderation.

Thanks, Jacob

Hey Jacob,

I seriously enjoyed reading through your paper! It seems you have presented similar ideas to some other students (which is a good thing! :D) and I have to agree that video games can certainly be used as a virtual space for communication, socialization and cooperation.

I also appreciate how you turned the negative (of MMOs being seen as an addiction) in to a positive (of controlling that addiction and using it as a recovery mechanism).

Great read overall.



Hi Zac, thank you for your kind words!

Its a topic I have always been passionate about playing MMO’s for many years. I have always disagree with the way MMO’ addiction is often stereo typically portrayed


Hey Jacob!

Great paper, it was fascinating to read your take on addiction in a gaming context! It is something I haven’t really thought about before now, so the paper is very thought provoking.
It was also great to read some of the previous responses you read, really gave extra context to your paper.

Cheers, Lleyton.

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