19th Jul2023

From Living In The Shadow, Social Has Come To Define Modern Video Gaming

by James Smith

Online gaming has typically been a reserve where the game matters first, and connections second – even online. In the modern day, the opposite is perhaps true. As The Economist notes, as games have grown, they have devoured other fields of media – and with them brought a distinct need for social media, and social connections. Due to this, many games have become embedded, one way or another, with social itself; giving rise to social gaming. An easy way to understand this is first through the simulation scene.

The rise of VR

At the core of social gaming are experiences that allow you to experience the world but through the digital medium. Even as these forms of media see challenges – VRChat, one of the most popular platforms, is under fire after removing user made mods, according to Kotaku – they continue to rise in popularity. The ability to replicate the social aspect of real-world gaming even extends to other arenas, such as the casino. Providers such as McLuck bring the social back into gaming in an attempt to create fun social casino environments.

Mobile gaming

Less technologically sophisticated than VR but arguably more commonplace, mobile gaming is one of the central markets in modern gaming. Yahoo estimates that mobile revenues will eat up 60% of the market by 2027. Combining the ease of access of social media apps with games, mobile has revolutionized social gaming. Garena, PUBG, and Pokémon Go – especially Pokémon go – have brought social into gaming in a big way.

Sneaking into main formats

While still holding a huge amount of money and interest due to the existence of triple-A titles, the classic platforms are perhaps lagging behind in social. They have, of course, always had social aspects to gaming, but FPS lobbies and strategy chat have always been cursory at best, and a field for verbal abuse at worst. Developers have grasped the social power of games, now, however, and Discord acts as a great link between communities alongside the value of platforms such as Twitch.

Gaming and social have become inextricably linked. Even games with a strong single player focus, such as Diablo IV, have shipped in such a form where player contact is nearly unavoidable. Whether this is popular in the long-term remains to be seen, but it confirms the power and benefits of social in the gaming sphere.


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