Humans are, at their core, social creatures. Even those that we sometimes view as anti-social are just careful in their social selection. When they find the right kind of socialization, they will undoubtedly light up like a brilliant star.
One of the most powerful forms of socialization has always been playing. Children play games in the park, adults joke and laugh, people of all ages can enjoy a game.
What happens when play becomes so visceral, where storytelling and fun blend so seamlessly? When the moments of bitter defeat or sweet victory can be shared with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of people, with a single sentence.
Speaking My Language
Every group has certain phrases or words that carry a more special meaning. It’s the vernacular of family, friends, and culture. Gamers are no different.
The actual meaning of these words and phrases can ebb and flow and change with the generations. The decades of gaming has seen the rise and fall of hundreds of little phrases, from NPCs to the Red Ring of Death to classics like Roll for Initiative.
It doesn’t matter what each word is or what it means; the real idea is that it is there, and gamers recognize it almost immediately. These phrases have power to those that understand them and give a feeling of exclusivity that random passersby just don’t have.
Reveling in that exclusive club feel can be intoxicating. You can recognize a gamer immediately when they slip right into the lingo. Suddenly, you have someone who understands all your stories because they probably have similar ones of their own.
Communication and Teamwork
“They’re heading back to Spawn.”
“I just got ganked on top lane.”
“Don’t let them cap the point!”
Gamers are quick to find ways to find their way around mechanics in a game. Gaming tends to have strategies or items that can help get you out of any situation. Gamers sniff them out and find out how to best utilize them. Sometimes that strategy or item is your fellow gamers.
Listen in on a voice chat during a team-based competitive match, and you will likely hear the back and forth of a well-oiled communication machine. Players call out enemy locations, tricks and upgrades of their opponents, and even direct each other for best angles of attack.
Sure, not every gamer becomes a tactical genius when they start up a match, but that jargon and communication quickly become secondhand when the minutes on a game turn to hours.
Games teach people how to play by the rules and most importantly, how to work around the rules. Teamwork, strategy, and open communication separate the best gamers from the rest.
When all of that comes together, the victory tastes that much sweeter. The bond that is created when social skills work in tandem with gaming skills builds life long memories and epic victories.
The Good Times and The Bad
A shared experience can be a powerful thing. The emotions of sorrow and happiness become that much more powerful when others have experienced that same moment.
Books and movies have a shared connection to characters and stories. Sports have a shared reaction to victory and defeat. Video games do both, often wrapped up in the same moment.
When you lose a match, you often have teammates there to sympathize. When your favorite character dies in a shock plot twist, other fans of that game know that same horrible feeling. The same goes for sweet victories and story elements that make you cheer in excitement.
Because video games have such an emotional connection with interaction, gamers have bonded time and time again on the understanding that powerful connection.
We all have been there, and gamers, both young and old, have learned those powerful lessons. We know what it is like and we’re there for it all, good times and bad.
You Can Call Me Friend
For me, gaming means connecting with friends. They can be friends you have known for years or friends you have just met. Once that common bond of gaming is there, so much uncertain communication melts away.
“What’s your favorite game” can tell me more about you than a thousand hours of awkward small talk. This social bridge immediately allows us to share one of the most important aspects of human nature: passion.
When you are passionate about something, it shows. When you can freely share that passion, you can really start to grow as a person. Suddenly, the hours you have dedicated to a fun way to relax also comes with people who share that same fun hobby.
My biggest and best moments with friends have been with gaming. We share laughs at silly moments and congratulate each other on game-winning moves. We have slain dragons together and won tournaments together and felt loss together.
I have close friends who I have never met in person because the shared experiences we have had in our gaming have meant and said more than any random waves or greetings in real life could do.
There is a wonderful saying in gaming culture that wraps all of this up rather nicely. “I am a gamer not because I don’t have a life but because I choose to have many.”
Experiences, friends, connections; we have them all.2