Marco Polo's New 30/30- Day 3: Is Gaming The Last Great Social Mecca? - mbellacio Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Marco Polo's New 30/30- Day 3: Is Gaming The Last Great Social Mecca?

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In life, there are some changes that occur that are so subtle, you barely notice them until the moment has passed. Social fads and trends tend to follow the pace of technology. The faster our world and the devices we use, the faster the changes that we see. But the remarkable transition into the 21st century hasn't just been about the speed of life. It is also about lifestyle, and how people interact.

In the late 1990's, when mutltimedia was truly beginning to explode, another development started to occur. People, were suddenly presented with a multitude of ways to entertain themselves, alone. Really, it should have come as no surprise. The migration of consumers away from traditional entertainment venues, i.e. movie theaters and drive-ins, had already began to take place. It was not as urgent to go to the movies on a Saturday night when you could simply rent a movie and invite friends over if you desired.

Book stores were the social havens for literary types, and even those who just wanted to appear literate. And ofcourse, we all know what happened with that. The days of mega book stores with poetry readings, book signings and the obligatory coffee shop are already mostly footnotes in history.

I realized a few days ago that so many of the things that I have always purchased and shopped for, are now purchased online. At least, that would apply to things like furniture, clothes, appliances, etc. This is not to say that I now shop exclusively online. But rather, when I do, it's frequently a very solitary experience. There's certainly no excitement to it. But, why would that matter?

I think of the 2011 movie, Source Code. In it, there's a scene where Jake Gyllenhall looks around him and says, "Just look at all of this life all around us." And for that moment, you get the sense that he is, perhaps for the first time understanding how something so simple can make life so good.

Humans are gregarious creatures. We all know that. So then, if humans are naturally inclined to desire the company of others, why is it that our technology so frequently isolates us, making us stand apart? Don't get me wrong. This is not an attempt to demonize technology, science, or the idea of progress. But the fact remains that the whole purpose of technology is to enrich our lives. That's what it should always do, otherwise what's the point? Progress for the sake of progress alone doesn't make much sense.

But, with all of the changes over the past two decades or so, there is still one social subset that seems to be preserving the human drive to share, and to interact. Gamers. Even with the passing of the arcade scene and the rise of online gaming, gaming culture has only seemed to grow and thrive. Some of the largest, most popular public events either revolve around gaming, or are in some way linked to it. Perhaps the only rival to gaming culture is that of music lovers, and often times the two are one and the same. But whether it's thousands of people going to Coachella or thousands of people attending the San Diego Comic Con, people are still finding ways to connect.

I've noticed, that even in a time where most people live insular lives, and seem to avoid "risky" interaction with people they don't know, with gamers it's just different. If you see some guy wearing a cool, vintage Zelda t-shirt, that's automatically going to be an opener for conversation. Some while back, I met a young man who had the same tattoo that Agent 47 of the Hitman series had on the back of his head. We were total strangers, but that one thing kickstarted an animated discussion over how much we both loved Hitman. It's now a favorite memory for me of how gaming can affect your life in a good way.

I felt compelled to write about this topic because I find it ironic that gaming is often accused of being one of the great causes of the downfall of society. Violence, poor school performance, poor social skills. All of these things are usually attributed as the side effects that go with a love of video games. And these assertions are almost always put forth without any consideration given to how gaming can and does make our lives better. It's time for that stigma to change. Gaming may actually be one of the last great means of socializing that we have.

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