Game Apps: A Case For Calling Them Social
By Robert Fine
Being social used to mean people gathering together in person. These meetings could be a group of people, a few people, or it could just be one on one. Whichever of these, it was nearly always in person. Now “being social” is much different than it was in the past. Today, a person chatting, sending photos, and sending and receiving emails with their friends and family on social media is considered to have an active social life. If social media is regarded as social, couldn’t game apps be viewed as social as well? After all, neither is done in person.
One dictionary defines the word social as “relating to activities in which you meet and spend time with other people and that happen during the time when you are not working.” Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and many, many other social media sites make it easy for people to stay in touch with friends and family, contact those from their past, and make new contacts. Social media is usually at least somewhat personal, and an individual may even have a “conversation” with someone. So, people are meeting and spending time with other people in the digital world, while not working (generally). That is, by definition, social.
Game apps may be called social as well. At first glance, it is unlikely that the majority of people would call game apps a social activity, or they’d at least have some hesitation in doing so. There are many game apps an individual may play completely alone without competing against anyone. There are also game apps a user can play with friends and family, either in person or at a distance. Then there are game apps where an individual can play against millions of other people at a distance and quite often in a live setting. Users meet and spend time with others playing games while not working. Game apps do connect people in their own special way.
Social media is usually more of a personal connection, or at least it feels that way. When playing game apps and connecting with millions of other users, there might not be any personal interaction. It is very unlikely you will ever meet in person or even know the other players’ real names. However, the definition of social we’re using makes it clear you must meet and spend time with other individuals or a group to be social. But it doesn’t specify that it must be in person. In other words, using social media and game apps both meet the criteria of being social.
Social media is used to stay in touch and communicate with those an individual knows, as well as networking with new people, companies, and organizations. Although there are always exceptions, generally social media is not used anonymously. The entire point of social media is to connect with others as yourself. People using game apps are almost always exclusively anonymous. Users choose a username, and they often play against millions of other individuals.
Both social media and game apps connect people. We have to look at our definitions in different ways. Think out of the box. In this digital world, we are truly experiencing, and therefore redefining, a new kind of social.