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  1. 1. (Your Name)(Instructor’s Name)(Subject)March 17, 2012 Online Gaming: The effect on Personal RelationshipsAbstract Online gaming has been a development built on the technology of the internet. Theinternet, being an innovation that allowed people to interact with other people globally creatednew ways of building relationships. The ability of the internet to build relationships allowed theresilience of online gaming to create a wide variety of audience amongst different culturesaround the world. In respect, though online gaming allowed people to create new relationships,other relationships are bound to be affected by the new relationships that are created by onlinegaming. This paper will discuss the different factors that affect relationships that involve onlinegaming, whether with other gamers or with people who do not engage themselves into onlinegaming.Keywords: Online Gaming, MMORPG, relationships Globalization has caused major changes in how people interact with one another. In theage where the internet allows people to see and talk with different people in different areas whilestaying inside ones own domain have caused innovations that people have become inclined into.
  2. 2. One of which that have been developed to harness the internet are the different online games.Online games are virtual environments in which people are able to create a new realm of socialrelationships; users are able to build their own groups, and organizations that share a commonbelief, goal or preference (Chiou & Wan, 2006). In the world of massive multi-player on-linerole-playing games (MMORPGs), the environment can be equated to the real world in which thevirtual environment does not stop when people go off-line, it continues even when people comeand go which allows different people to interact with different people. The internet itself is saidto be not addictive, but the different activities embedded within the system, such as onlinegames, are the ones that can become addictive to people (Chiou & Wan, 2006). This paper willanalyze how online games affect the different relationships of people who engage in the gamewith the people around them, such as their family and friends. Previous researches have created results that illustrate that the excessive use of onlinegames can result in negative outcomes, such as negative impacts on academic performances,increased anxiety, escape from reality, youth violence and crimes, and the deterioration ofinterpersonal relationships (Chiou & Wan, 2006). Online games, in a way create a whole newenvironment in which the users are nudged away from their “real” lives and become dislodgedfrom the people they know. The effects of online games create an image in which people becomealoof from their friends and family, that people who are into online games destroy theirrelationships with the people in their lives. Much research that have been done are based onquantitative research paradigms, involving in-depth interviews of online game addicts and notnecessarily why people engage in such; results in which qualitative methods are used (Chiou &
  3. 3. Wan, 2006). New researches have tried to create new results and discussions in which onlinegaming is perceived in building new relationships or being able to strengthen old relationships. Online games, one of the myths that surround it is that it only appeals to children andadolescents (Cole & Griffiths, 2007). People don’t realize that those who engage in MMORPGsare those who can be independent and should be able to sustain their own lives, studies show thatthe age of players are mostly 23.6years and a significant number, 28.2% are over 25years of age,and only a small number of people were under 18years (Cole & Griffiths, 2007). Another studyshowed that 36% of gamers are married and 22% have children (ESA, 2005; Yee, 2004, 2006 ascited by Hertlein & Hawkins, 2012). The relationship of the age of the players and therelationships of these players with the different people is significant to look at because in theory,these people are capable of deciding for themselves and are able to live independently and areable to live up to the consequences of their lives. Previous researches made assumptions thatgamers are socially inactive, however, the new studies show that people who played onlinegames have created good friends within the game (Cole & Griffiths, 2007). New relationshipshave been forged within the game that allowed people to interact with different people even ifthe environment differs from where they live in. This created a new image of online games,being something that is highly socially interactive which allows people to interact and share therelives to different people (Cole & Griffiths, 2007). In relation to pre-existing relationships such asfamily and friends, studies show that people does not necessarily engage in online games alone,they share their online experiences with their “real-life” friends and family (Cole & Griffiths,2007).
  4. 4. Unlike the previous findings that players tend to be dislodged from reality and tend to useonline game to escape from reality, the new findings show that online games is a tool that friendsand family use to bond together and create a stronger relationship. MMORPGs involve thenecessity to join guilds or clans to accomplish primary objectives and progress within the game(Hertlein & Hawkins, 2012). Playing MMORPGs require players to interact with other peoplewho play the game, which encourages teamwork, camaraderie, and collaboration. It can alsoincrease the understanding between the different relationships within a person. Previous studiesshow that video games helped families to achieve a certain level of togetherness which was notexperienced previously (Mitchell, 1985 as cited by Hertlein & Hawkins, 2012). But as it can create stronger bonds, online games can also create difficulties withinfamilies and couples, especially when only one of the couple is engaged in the game (Hertlein &Hawkins, 2012). Just as much as it provides positive aspects in building relationships it can alsoprovide negative facets within relationships. Online gaming also has two sides of the coin. In astudy, such a large number of gamers were already married and or in dating relationships whichstate that gaming has become a primary presenting problem rather than a secondary one (Hertlein& Hawkins, 2012). A study analyzed the different factors that can cause a crack in relationshipsbrought about by online gaming. The study showed that some factors that affect relationships arethe motivations to play, addiction, personality characteristics, gender, overall well-being, andrelationship intimacy (Herlein & Hawkins, 2012). Online gaming can be a way for players toalleviate negative feelings such as frustration, loneliness, or boredom (Hussain & Griffiths, 2009as cited by Hertlein & Hawkins, 2012). This can be a negative attribute toward relationshipsbecause players tend to hide their frustrations in real life and mask it with being happy online.
  5. 5. Instead of being able to create a solution to a problem, the player tends to hide his problemsaway and create a barrier into which relationships falter and be destroyed. “Although the gaming partner in a relationship has an entire network of interactions,loyalties, and responsibilities within the gaming world, these networks may be invisible andintangible to the non-game player” (Hertlein & Hawkins, 2012). People in the social structure ofthe player in-game may not be part of the friends and family social structures that these peoplewho are unknown to the friends and family may create feelings of jealousy, resentment and hurt.People who are not in the gaming world may feel neglected by the people who are playing thegame. This tends to create distance between the player and to those who do not involvethemselves to work. Studies showed that individuals, who pursued relationships online, notnecessarily intimate, created less intimacy with their face to face relationships. Some gamers,mostly addicts, stated that playing online games have become the focus of their lives (Chiou &Wan, 2006). They have lived their lives that are intertwined with gaming, believing that withoutonline games, their lives would become “dark” and “bored” (Chiou & Wan, 2006). Theinabilities of “real-life” relationships to cope for the necessities of gamers create the negativeeffects of online gaming. Most of the subjects in the present study showed strong interests in role-playing of online games, in which they often do things that they dare not to do in real life. In an anonymous environment, online game players always appear with nicknames instead of real names. Thus, many people who are addicted to the Internet might attempt to escape from the limitations brought by real life in order to obtain the space for survival and security. This indicates that online gaming brings a anonymous environment with lower public self-awareness, and allows players to stop concentrating on the self-consciousness in order to prevent becoming overly worried about what other people would evaluate and judge the way they act in front of others. From the perspective of psychodynamics, at the conscious level addicted players might seek self presentation in an anonymous, relaxing,
  6. 6. and secure space, but unconsciously, they might actually have an unsatisfied need for self-presentation due to their poor self-image in real life. (Chiou & Wan, 2006) In a way, role-playing games allow a person to be someone whom he desires to be. Theability to dictate what path you choose in game allows a player to control his own life, moreoften than not, why people get hooked into the game. Also, the ability to create a whole newidentity including the anonymity of the person within the game allows creates a more appealingenvironment for a person than to deal with the different discriminations involved in a society,such as skin color, speech, or even nationality of a person. In an attempt to create a whole newimage of oneself, this leads to a risk of dislodging oneself from the world in which one has to goback after playing the game. MMORPGs can be capable of being as goal-oriented or as relaxed as the people whoengage in it desire it to be. In part, it appeals to people because it provides the opportunity tocreate an experience that is unique for any individual in-game. The negative effects of the gamesmust not be ignored, but it should not also be blustered out of proportion. MMORPGs can beextremely social in nature, with the different experiences of gamers making life-long friends andeven partners for life. MMORPGs are by no means an asocial doing, nor are the gamersgenerally introverted. The virtual world that online games offer permit players to expressthemselves in ways they may not feel comfortable doing in real life because of their appearance,gender, sexuality, age, or other factors (Cole & Griffiths, 2007). Online games can offer a placewhere cooperation, support, and fun can be experienced all at the same time which can improve aperson online and offline.
  7. 7. Relationships are built with the understanding that involves two parties who understandeach other. It is strengthened through positive interactions and through overcoming negativeexperiences within the different persons involved. Relationships are broken because of theinability to understand each other. The failures to develop these interactions are the true problemin which relationship problems arise. Whether relationships are built online or offline, it all boilsdown to the ability of a person, group, family or friends to understand each other. If arelationship is to be strengthened, people should take into priority the other person and not onlywhat he or she believes in. A relationship is built from the mutual understanding of the peoplewithin your own circle, online or offline. The studies show that online gaming does notnecessarily harness negative relationships but it can bring about positive characteristics that canbring new relationships or strengthen old ones. As people who live in an age of technologicaldevelopments, going online has become an integral part of our lives. Online gaming is just a partof the internet world, how we use and perceive it greatly depends on the people who use it. Ifpeople want to build relationships, online or offline, it is in their ability to understand the otherperson and not the medium in which he or she meets the people.
  8. 8. BibliographyChiou, W.-B., & Wan, C.-S. (2006). Why Are Adolescents Addicted to Online Gaming? An Interview Study in Taiwan. Cyber Psychology and Behavior , 762-766.Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role- Playing Gamers. Cyber Psychology & Behavior , 575-583.Hertlein, K. M., & Hawkins, B. P. (2012). Online Gaming Issues in Offline Couple Relationships: A Primer for Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs). The Qualitative Report 2012 , 1-48.Retrieved March 17, 2012, from