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Not All Gamers are Losers, Say PSU Researchers

Penn State is among the best of the best when it comes to research, boasting twelve top-10 research programs by expenditures. Take one look at the Penn State Research Twitter feed (@PennStateRsrch) and you’ll immediately see the sheer volume of the university’s research contributions, which range from those in high-energy physics to cancer treatment to renewable energy to…umm, behaviors of chronic videogamers.

Penn State’s Benjamin Hickerson and Andrew Mowen, professors of recreation, parks and tourism management, released a study in “Society and Leisure” analyzing the effect of playing video games on interpersonal relationships. To collect data for this study, Hickerson and Mowen surveyed 166 gamers waiting in line for the new Call of Duty at two Central Pennsylvania video game stores and used their responses to measure variables such as behavioral investment and social bonding.

Good news, gamers — according to Hickerson and Mowen’s study, you might not be “destined for lives filled with failing relationships and dwindling friendships.”

“There’s a common stereotype that if you play video games, then you are a loner,” said Hickerson in a release. “But it may have more to do with how a person is involved in gaming that determines how their social support is affected.”

Of course, gamers who organized their lives around gaming activities tended to experience a negative effect on their friendships, according to the study which analyzed multi-player, first-person shooter games, like the Call of Duty and Halo.

“Some participants indicated they spent more than 100 hours per week on playing games, which is well above the national average,” said Hickerson. “These are people who are thoroughly invested in gaming and people who are organizing their lives around playing video games.”

However, the study seems to indicate that video games can sometimes be a social positive, helping people maintain social bonds over gaming and even organization in their lives. Specifically, the study found that when survey respondents primarily played video games “to reinforce social bonds”, they “experienced higher levels of social ties and support”.

Hot damn. Can’t wait to spend syllabus week getting drunk by myself playing Call of Duty boosting my levels of social ties and support.

About the Author

Bobby Chen

Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.

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