Gamers’ Subculture Fieldwork Assignment
With the advent of the Internet, there has emerged a new subculture of computer gamers.
Gamers started a new trend of mixing technology, communication and entertainment in today’s modern world of computers. These are people who play online role-playing or war games and discuss these games in Internet chat forums and virtual communities.
The earliest form of gamers can be considered those who traded baseball cards before the video and computer games were invented. They used to be a very small group of people who had a different hobby. When home gaming consoles like Nintendo and Sega were introduced, the subculture of gamers actually started to become immensely more popular. When the Internet came around, people were then able to play these video games against the skill of their friends and even anyone else in the world. Moreover, the games themselves started to evolve so rapidly and diversely that they started to attract youths of all backgrounds and age groups and even females. According to the entertainment software association, “forty-two percent of all gamers are women”.
In my fieldwork project I observed a number of gamers who will be divided into 2 categories I made up to help me understand the players. The categories are addicts and non addicts. I interviewed three guys; two of them were in their rooms when I talked to them, I specifically asked them to be prepared and stop playing video games before I come to them for a while and in both times it was in the weekend late at night. The third one of my friends introduces me to him. I met him on the campus early in the morning, and we had a cup of coffee in Starbucks and we talked.
People who play for more than 5 hours a day are called addicts and those who play less time than that are called non-addicts. I will focus on the players who play a game called World of Warcraft. This game is a very popular game worldwide with over 5000 people playing at any given time (Cronin, 2011). Its popularity is one of the reasons why people are getting addicted to it. Gamers are all the time looking for new and interesting games and as they find something new they started playing and telling their friends and family about it. In this way those people they get obsessed with games as well as encouraging others overwhelmed with the interest of gaming.
Introduction to Subculture
I would define this group of players as a subculture because they have their own way of life that is very different from anything one else. They spend much of their time in gaming which is no more than a way to get busy. And this activity does not mean anything useful because its might affect on their eyes. In addition, at one point these 5000 players are playing in a sort of a social group of their own. Some of the players are complete addicts and play this game at least 8 hours a day without worrying about college, sleep or work. These people have no friends and not have any food because they are busy playing Warcraft all day (Mayra, 2008). I think that it will be a great joy to research attitudes of this culture.
I wonder what makes them behave as they do. Why are they willing to give all friends, food and education only a game that probably will be out of the stores in 2 months? In addition, I would characterize the differences between addicts and non addicts and what makes not much more rational addicts for addicts?
Simple game consoles emerged in the late 80’s and early 90’s and have evolved to include Internet interactions in the early millennia until now. In order to explain this change I will focus on evolution of gaming in respect to the advancement of its users and the technology.
The way that the youth of today plays games is very different than when they were played before. This put an exciting new twist on the gaming culture as the youth found a new way of social interaction while engaging in a pastime that was enjoyable.
The appeal of video games comes not only by exceeding others in skill for a particular game, but also through the attraction of role-playing that gamers enjoy very much. One particular style of gaming is when many players compete in the same game. This is known as Massive Multiplayer Online Games or MMOGs. Sitting behind a T.V screen and portraying one, as a fictional character is a charm for many youths who imagine themselves in situations like a war-zone or fighting dragons etc. While there are still arcade-style games (racing, sports etc) most of the gamers play role-playing games or ‘first-person-shooter’ games in which they play the main character of the game. This category of gamers is those who take part in Internet forums and virtual rooms to discuss different kinds of strategies and techniques. The tips received from others are then subsequently used in the games. Not only that, but they also go to conventions where the game manufacturing companies launch their new products and games.
Other popular thing is that youth gamers are usually a part of our ‘gaming meets’ or LAN parties. At these meet these gamers come together and compete against each other in the same game by connecting their computers to each other. The stereotype of this subculture usually is very degrading. It is oftentimes said that these gamers do not come out of their houses for days because they are playing video games for a very long time, sometimes all day every day. Also, it is said that this particular hobby of gaming impedes upon the direct social development of today’s youth. These gamers have a hard time directly talking or interacting with others because they are so used to being able to converse through a screen. The younger and newer generation of gamers, who are becoming increasingly more technologically advanced and skilled, are allowing for the aforementioned stereotypes to broken.
Warcraft is a game of strategy that involves the construction of cities and armies and then destroys your opponent with them. Every time you play you have to start from scratch by building cities and creating armies by training his men in these cities built. But there are several interesting characters, as Mannoroth who is the king of the demons of the pit lords. His age is unknown and is described as pure hatred, malice, and rage. Cairne Bloodhoof is the chief of the Bloodhoof tribe 99 years of age (Cronin, 2011). He is good and is willing to give everything for his people and, though hampered by his age still has the strength of 50 men. This is one of those games that are tremendously brutal showing bloodshed and involving people dying and destruction. Each player has to constantly worry about the other players and think about how you can destroy the other without being killed himself. In fact, the game title says Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (Mayra, 2008).
I noticed some of the players of Warcraft and tried to answer some questions for me. How many hours are devoted to each player to play? How these hours are different from the different actors? Also, I tried to get familiar with the game and know about how the game works and the different characters you have. I also tried to play this game to see if I have found, as so addictive.
So for me the second I met with all the different actors and recorded their answers to my questions. I also spent time with many different players lead and then watched their daily lives and how it led to play this game affects their daily lives. Besides, how they behave with others and how to interact socially with them.
The most interesting part of the observations I’ve made in this project was that addicts were not very different from non-addicts. The addicted people do not have any idea about what they are doing. They do not know that playing such types of violent games for long period can have a great affect on their mind, thoughts and personality. Addicts are not aware of the fact of losing much of their time playing these games and play these games for such a long time actually affects their lives and their daily lives.
The first guy I interviewed named Howard. He was in his room and he was having a break of playing that game. He was not even aware of how much time he spent playing computer games. He said: “I can play Warcraft about 3-4 hours a day.” However, after watching for 2 days I learned that he played Warcraft for more than 8 hours a day. This obsession of his reality, his affected daily life that has not slept enough, I had stopped studying for exams (which currently has an average of 2.2). For him, this game had become really a kind of daily activity, like brushing your teeth or having food and he was not even aware of it.
When I asked Howard if he really cared about the fact that almost had no friends because he spent most of his time playing Warcraft, said: “I have no time.” What I noticed here is that he did not say that I play Warcraft for so long that I have no time for anything else. He just said he does not have enough time. So my guess is that he did not realize that he has no time because he plays Warcraft for so long every day.
The other thing I found about addicts is that they were trying to deny the fact that they were addicts, while non-addicts were addicted did not deny that. Howard; actually lied about how long he often plays this game. What more when I realized he was saying was that it was so natural and not forced at all. This meant to me that he actually believed that he was not spending too much time playing this game.
While addicts were not always clear about the fact that they were addicted and they were spending too much time playing a game that is out of fashion in the coming months. Like my second interviewee said “yes, I guess not spend too much time on this game.”
On the other hand, those addicted to violence and death loved the games more than non-addicts. Some of them actually played this game mainly because it was very violent and that helped them quench their thirst for murder, looting and destruction. Like my third subject said, “I like this game because of all the strategy and the destruction of my enemies who participate in it.” But addicts do not play this game because of the destruction that was involved in the game. When I asked about the game and all the violence that is involved in it Saied said “I just play because of all the cool graphics and strategy involved in that … I believe that violence is only a part of it.”(Cronin, 2011)
Even in the physical aspect of the addicts are very different. They are much more carefree about the way they look and do not change their clothes for several days while the addicts are much more normal they are much more like us. Addicts sound funny and not very polite to talk to. They have a very characteristic behavior, I would say easily distinguishable. In fact, some of them are so different from us that often made fun of and have no friends. People are reluctant to talk to them and do not want to talk about them (Mayra, 2008).
Results of Fieldwork
I found that the main reason that addicts are willing to give up friends, sleep, education, etc to a game is because this is something they like and like to do. Like when I asked Howard why he is willing to give up the education, friends, sleep and normal life for a game that will be out of fashion in the next 2 months? (Cronin, 2011) To this he replied: “I really like and this is something I enjoy doing and I am so good at what it gives me great satisfaction and for that moment I navigate this game makes me feel good.”
At the time I do not think of anything else. Basketball players or football players have discovered what they like and get paid for it, but I like this and when I touch it, do not get paid for it.” While addicts are much more normal and are good in many things they find it much easier to take their minds of the game and face the realities of everyday life. While addicts have spent most of their time playing this game and are not good at anything else. (Mayra, 2008).