Gaming used to suffer from the misguided stigma of being solely for loners, geeks, and others not considered among the most competent in social situations. But, now that there is a wider selection of drastically better games available across many platforms, more people interact with the entertainment medium, with the increasingly important social factors proving to be one of the main reasons why some people game, according to a Social Media Week post.
But how did the gaming community shed the loner stigma to become incredibly sociable, and where is the industry headed next?
Social gaming brings enhanced competition
The introduction of online play in mainstream console games was a major factor behind the rise in the demand for social elements in gaming. While PlayStation 2 games featured online elements in some games if you could connect a landline, it wasn’t until the next generation’s ability to utilise Wi-Fi that online gaming took off.
With online arenas, players could continue to enjoy the experience once the main campaign or story had been completed, offering near-endless gaming. Not only could the players enjoy the universe of the game for longer, but the challenge of the game stepped up as, instead of taking on what developers had programmed, players would now get to take on fellow players.
This added level of competition keeps the game exciting as each round will be a different experience while all others in the game get to see you do well and recognize your skill (hopefully). The competition is what makes online gaming with social elements, such as rankings, the use of headsets, and live chat so popular across the world of gaming.
Social elements are transforming the face of gaming. For example, some triple-A games are now exclusively online, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which came from a series known for its impressive single-player campaigns. This transition has also affected online casino gaming, where single-player experiences are losing ground to casino titles with live dealers and other players, such as Aspers live casino games, which include roulette, blackjack, Dragon Tiger, and many more. Lastly, mobile games have also been altered by social gaming elements, continuing to use ongoing competition, rankings, teams, and chats as a way of enticing a player base, as seen by Clash of Clans and its ilk.
Social factors will continue to improve as streaming increases
Now that live streaming, online video platforms, and the internet as a whole allow for instant access to content, viewing video games has become a viable entertainment option for many.
Gamers of the original console generations may, understandably, question why one would want to watch someone else play a game when they could play it themselves, and yet Twitch and YouTube accrued 2.4 billion viewing hours in Q1 of 2018 alone, per New Zoo.
It’s the ability to connect with fellow gamers while receiving entertainment value from seeing a particularly good player enact the game and comment on the occurrences within it. Now, online titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends will thrive or fall based on the number of creators making videos of them playing the game.
Said to be the beginning of the next age of gaming, the Google Stadia features some innovative social features to enhance the social element in gaming further. According to Stuff, the State Share feature lets gamers capture a moment within a game, send it to others, and then the recipients can get into the game from that exact moment to play it themselves. The Crowd Play feature will enhance the connection between fans and streamers, allowing them to play alongside the streamer.
Social elements will continue to shape the gaming industry, with the Google Stadia set to usher in a new age of connected gaming for all.