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Social media and gaming are quickly becoming inseparable. As more are more games embrace social media mechanics and social media platforms take an interest in gaming, it is becoming apparent how much the two impact each other. While social media’s presence in the gaming world has had its fair share of controversies (a la Gamergate), the effect on the gaming industry overall is a net positive. Social media, in a lot of ways, is changing the world of gaming as we know it — and for the better more often than not.
Creating New Communities and Friendships
Games like Pokemon Go are inherently social in that, in order to get the most of the game, interacting with others that play the game is necessary. Both within the game application and on social media platforms, these types of games encourage players to reach out to one another to schedule meetups where they might work together to reach a goal. Through games that require social interaction in reality and on social media platforms as well, gamers end up cultivating entirely new gaming communities.
While online relationships between video game players begin from a shared interest in whatever game they might be playing, the often-required interaction between players to achieve a goal opens the door for new, lasting relationships to develop. What starts as an exclusively in-game friendship often naturally evolves into a deeper, more nuanced relationship. This is where social media allows for players to continue their friendship outside of simply playing games together. Whether it be through Facebook groups dedicated to specific games or just two players who have become fast friends, social media facilitates these relationships.
These relationships are just as real and valid as any in-person relationship, regardless of the fact that they almost exclusively take place through gaming and social media. The joy that these online relationships bring and the grief experienced when an online friend passes are legitimate. For years it has been a common occurrence for players to hold in-game funerals or memorials for friends that have passed. Even if players have never met in real life, through gaming and social media they are given the tools needed to form tight bonds.
Breaking Down Barriers
Another benefit that social media brings to the world of gaming is that it provides a direct line of communication from players to developers. Video games have carved out a sizeable portion of the Twitterverse, with over 1 billion tweets regarding gaming being made globally in 2018. While many of these tweets were made to express excitement about new games or in relation to competitive gaming, a lot of valuable user feedback was given to game developers as well.
In the past, complaints from gamers were common, but there weren’t as visible as social media makes them in the modern era. Now, if a game is released with major bugs or lackluster gameplay, like Fallout 76 for instance, fans are quick to spread their opinions of the game. This can reverberate widely across social media. Game developers that choose to listen to players complaints and suggestions can actually end up saving a game from mediocrity, as was accomplished with Destiny, The Division, and (perhaps most famously) No Man’s Sky.
Additionally, social media platforms also provide a way for developers to get into contact with one another. Social media can act as an incredibly useful tool for networking and collaborative efforts between developers, allowing them to share information in real time and have timely discussions about progress. This ability to instantly connect can help developers stay one step ahead of leaks or to quickly address issues pertaining to development as they occur, saving time and money.
Changing the Face of Gaming
It can be useful to take a break from social media every once in a while — and maybe even delete your Facebook in the pursuit of privacy — but those invested in the gaming world might want to reconsider doing so. The rise of social media platforms that emphasize video game streaming hasn’t gone unnoticed by the tech giant, and they are now looking to muscle in on this new and wildly popular way to enjoy gaming socially. Twitch is by far the most popular of the streaming social media platforms, and streaming itself has become popular due to the rise of battle royale-style games.
Out of all of the games that streamers play, Fortnite has some of the biggest draw for fans. Fortnite itself is actually a popular social media platform in and of itself, with over 250 million users playing regularly, having fun, and forming friendships and fandoms. Many young people idolize some of the biggest players on the platform like Ninja or the members of FaZe Clan, spending hours online watching them.
For Generation Z, the line between social media and gaming is becoming increasingly blurred. This generation has shown an intense interest in the overall blending of social media and gaming. This is evidenced by the rise of streaming as entertainment and the fact that this love of games like Fortnite bleeds into popular culture in songs and other mediums. For game developers, this opens up an exciting new chapter in gaming culture and development as a whole
Social media and gaming have reached a point where they go hand in hand, bringing the concept of multiplayer farther than it’s ever been. For developers, social media provides the ability to get instantaneous feedback on their projects so that they know what is and isn’t working, as well as a way to communicate quickly between other developers. For players, social media is a place where relationships can flourish and they can freely express their opinions. Social media and gaming may be even further intertwined in the future, existing as one immersive experience. Until that day, grab a controller and make some new friends.