Computer Gaming and Social Values

Posted on November 19, 2010

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From a guest blogger:

Society is changing fast here in the UK and it is difficult to keep track of the developments.  Whilst the middle-aged debate the merits of the Trident nuclear missile programme for our national defence, our young have taken up arms against the rest of the world by buying 1.4 million copies of the computer game Call of Duty: Black Ops on the first day of its release.

The community of gamers is, in a certain sense, arguably stronger than any national community. New language is being fostered, with nouns like ‘n00b’ and ‘camper’, and verbs such as ‘to prestige’ or ‘to tea bag’. It would take too long to explain these terms to the uninitiated, but they are part and parcel of being an experienced gamer.

Ironically, some have argued that the constant fighting online of the young (and not so young) makes them less likely to fight for real in certain situations.  Online gaming provides ‘sound windows’ into bedrooms across the world through the use of headsets that act as comm-links for coordinating online team games.  Across Europe, Asia, Australasia and the US, players emit the same pop tunes and enjoy the same shouts to turn off from parents.  Gamers send friend requests to persons whose language they do not understand, but whose gaming ability is respected.

This is part of the modern world and it is difficult for some to navigate.  Whilst we can hope to increase community solidarity and social values in our towns and cities, the towns and cities of our youth are in a different place altogether.  It is a realm hard to access without a large investment of time and difficult to penetrate with good values.  Whilst most Black Ops players recognise the need to regulate the online commentary and promote positive interaction between gamers, enforcement of any standards has been slow and grudging.  Verbal abuse is a common theme of multiplayer discourse, especially during late-night gaming.  Taunts bordering on bullying and even racism are a common feature.  In response, this new version of the Call of Duty series allows the reporting of abuse, but subsequent reprimanding remains unclear.  The game is thirsting for players that complement each other’s abilities but the producers are more interested in working on the graphics and game-play than on the manners of those who play.

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