The interactive and social nature of online gaming is the main reason why gaming has become so popular. Those who want to reach out to others and expand their friend base can find virtual friends waiting to play with them online. Those who are stuck at home most of the time and just want someone else to talk to really enjoy the time they spend communicating with others while playing online games. In many cases, friends are formed across international borders, because physical location doesn’t matter in the world of online gaming.
Those who have not personally experienced online gaming may wonder how communication over the Internet is possible. How is it possible for someone in Oklahoma to play and chat all night with someone from India? There are even people on opposite ends of the country and the world falling in love online. How is this possible?
The most basic form of communication in the world of online social gaming is the simple instant chat platform. Many gaming sites allow players to enter private “rooms” with other players, and there is a chat box where they can type messages back and forth. These rooms are actually separate screens that appear on the computer screens for all players in the game. You can communicate through the chat box throughout your game, while thousands of other people have private conversations in other virtual rooms (screens).
That kind of communication in a game world is a lot like texting someone on a cell phone, except they’re typing on their computer keyboard. There are also more complex forms of communication during online games. Some games allow players to connect through webcams and microphones. This allows all players to see each other and put real faces on screen names online.
This more personal form of online gaming communication is appealing to some, but not to others. Some people do not want their real faces and lives to be revealed in the world of online gaming. For them, games that allow players to create avatars to represent their character online are preferred. These games allow direct communication between players, but each player has their own avatar that is prevented from other players.
An avatar is a cartoon-like image that each player can design differently. This is done by selecting different hair colors and styles, body shapes and sizes, and different facial structures and skin colors. Clothing can often be selected as well.
In games like Second Life, players can buy clothes, houses, cars, and other belongings that show others in the virtual world who they are and what they are like. These avatars and online lives may or may not reflect who the player is in real life, apart from the online world.
Socializing online is very rewarding and fulfilling for many people. Those who don’t get the acceptance they’d like in real life can find people online who validate them as individuals. In this way, online games can be powerful in the lives of players.