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Thursday, April 20, 2006

online gaming unites family members across the planet

This article by Mike Musgrove on the WaPo today about how computer games like World of Warcraft and City of Heroes are allowing far-flung family members to interact with one another raises a number of interesting points for discussion. The belief that computer games are anti-social is turning out not to be the case, at least in some cases.
For a family separated by the military, such games can be an intimate way of "being together" that goes beyond phone calls or e-mail. Rhonda Carswell lives in Florida, and her husband, Randy, is an Army National Guard medic stationed in Afghanistan, but they meet routinely in Paragon City of the superhero-themed game City of Heroes.

"It sounds silly to our non-gamer friends, but when I see his hero or villain, I feel like I am looking at him. . . . His choices of appearance and powers personify him perfectly," Rhonda said in an e-mail. The couple run missions together, and at the end of the day, they put their characters in yoga position in a "safe" part of the game's world and just talk.
Another related trend is the use of avatars in online chatting. The impact of projecting ourselves into cyberspace to interact with one another is going to be a fascinating field of study for years to come. Kudos to WaPo for running this article.


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