I'm updating a day early this week as I'll be traveling home over the weekend to spend Christmas with my family. This week we come to part four of our multi-week look at video game benefits, this week we're looking at Global Culturalization. This portion of the report picks up exactly where the last report left off, so hit the jump for more! Merry Christmas!
Another social element of video games has risen quite steadily since the rise of the internet--the effect of video games on Global Culturalization. Culturalization is defined as "to expose or subject to the influence of culture" (Dictionary.com). With the rise the internet, multi-player gaming has taken itself online, linking players and exposing them to culture on a global scale. In a 2009 article titled “Exploring success factors of video game communities in hierarchical linear modeling: The perspectives of members and leaders”, researchers Shu-Hsun Ho and Chiung-Hui Huang proposed that "Video games have become one of the prevailing forms of entertainment media and an integral component of social lives and leisure activities throughout the world." They supported the idea that with the rise of the internet many different types of people have banded together in 'virtual communities", comprised of those who share similar interests and activities. Among these and of the earliest users, are found gamers. These virtual communities allow gamers to "...interact socially, exchange information, and build their identities regardless of geographical separation." If one player finds something unique in a single player experience, he is able to quickly communicate with others worldwide who will find this information useful and unique, allowing them as a group to share in the discovery. With Ho and Huang's research, they quoted earlier researchers who had found that "many forms of interaction have appeared, ranging from text-based tools such as newsgroups, bulletin board services (BBSs), and mailing lists, to more user-friendly and multimedia-based Internet Relay Chat (IRC), instant messages (IMs)..." in addition to the world wide web as we know it. From even the earliest days of the internet, gamers would often 'meet' online to share stories, modifications, tips or just talk about life (Ho and Huang, 2009).
These virtual communities have culminated however with an even more social type of game: The MMO, or Massively Multiplayer Online, game. MMOs are unique in that they are played with thousands of other people simultaneously. Any one player's actions are capable of influencing any other player at any time, and the core design of the game often revolves around working with large groups of fellow players to complete objectives. Players are able to speak, interact and play with thousands of players at once. An early title that garnered much public recognition was the title Everquest, which in 2004 boasted more then 420,000 thousand monthly players, of which as many as 98,000 would be online and playing together at a given time (Delwiche, 2006). The current king of MMO's is the highly acclaimed World of Warcraft, which as of early 2009 boasted more than 11.5 million players worldwide.
In a 2003 study titled “Online computer gaming: a comparison of adolescent and adult gamers”, researchers presented results taken from surveys on the nationalities of those playing Everquest. They found that a large percentage of adolescents playing were American, 77% in fact. The remaining 23% were from other nations such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia and even Pakistan (Griffiths et al., 2003) Since World of Warcraft's rise global interaction in video games has continued to rise. When China recently cut access to Warcraft, analyst Mike Hickey estimated that the cost to Warcraft's parent company Activision would be 5 to 6 cents per share from a total of 65 cents per share (Oreskovic, 2009). Those engaged in such activities are increasingly interacting with others from around the world, sharing and exchanging ideas on a global scale. Some researchers, such as Paraskeva, Mysirlaki, and Papagianni have noted that these factors could be used in "...developing educational games that would aim at creating collaborative learning environments...where players would interact with other subjects, objects and tools of the game, under specified rules and create communities..." (Paraskeva et al., 2009).