Study: Online gaming with family can improve communication

By Stephany Nunneley, Saturday, 7 May 2011 18:41 GMT

A study conducted by Cuihua Shen at the University of Texas and Dmitri Williams at the University of Southern California has suggested that online gaming can be healthy when you play with family or solkd you know.

According to an article on US News and World Report (via Kotaku), communication between family members improves when you play together, but can lead to a substitute for healthy communication when played alone.

While the research may seen a bit obvious, what the study is suggesting is that parent should join up with their children online, rather than just let them play alone.

The results the study were culled from 5,000 families who were asked EverQuest 2 together. Those who played as a family unit reported better communication compared to those who played alone who saw the opposite occur.

I was also found that those played EQ2 alone felt a better sense of community while online, but when offline they felt increased loneliness.

“Playing MMOs can be good for your psychosocial health but it really depends on the purpose, context and type of players,” Shen said. “There really are a lot of nuances.”

Game designer Jane McGonigal cited research to Smithsonian Magazine back in February which stated that “playing games with people actually improves relationships with them.”

She said that when people are gaming with one another, curiosity is “sparked,” and people are more likely to collaborate with others.

“You’re more likely to stick with a tough problem, even if you fail at first,” she said. “The idea of the ‘lone gamer’ is really not true anymore. Up to 65 percent of gaming now is social, played either online or in the same room with people we know in real life. There’s a ton of research which shows playing games with people actually improves relationships with them.

“You feel more positive about them, you trust them more, and you have a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses so that you’re better able to work and collaborate with them in the future.”

McGonigal did, however, note that gaming is only good when in moderation – up to 20 hours per week.

“More than that and you start to get quite negative impacts,” she told the magazine.

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