I'm sure you are aware, and if you aren't you should be, that PC Gamer UK has requested more people to write in with regards to anything gaming or pc related, so I submitted the following letter.
Letter submitted to PC Gamer UK
I remember when I was in my teenage years that pc gaming was finally beginning to take off, and online gaming looked to be the way forward. No longer would I have to be content with defeating a computer controlled opponent. Finally I could match wits with those across the globe. At first that was all anyone, at least for most of us, wanted. But something else happened. My father was one to say why are you staying in playing games, why aren't you out meeting new people? He is, like quite a few people today, under the impression that those who spend time playing online games are loners, with no friends really. Well perhaps no friends in his immediate neighborhood, but what about those he meets online? A few years back I bought a game after seeing it reviewed in this very magazine. Uplink by Introversion Software properly introduced me to the online community. slowly the community changed the game to me, creating add-ons and mods but slowly the community changed and the discussion changed also. No longer was it just this game and that game, but it was about the world at large, with topics ranging from "Media Bias Against Israel", "Should Gay marriages be legal?" and even just the downright odd. I have debated things from religion and sexuality with people from across the globe, Ireland, England, USA, India, China, Australia, Palestine, Israel. Nothing is considered too taboo, and while like any online forum and irc based community we have our local trolls and idiots, for the most part the discussion is interesting. Age is not a consideration, neither is sexuality or gender. If you have something to say, and can do it in a clear constructive manner, we will read and then respond. Those who say gaming is the cause of violence have no idea what really can happen online. Hardly a week goes by that someone, usually in the American media goes and blames games for some form of violence, but do they ever look at what actually does happen to those who are part of a gaming community? Like any community we will have our (thankfully few) nut jobs, but for the most part gamers are not violent outside of their games. Even in your very issue did you comment that games increase reaction speed and hand eye co-ordination (Eye witness Gobbets page 16 in PCG 136). And of course game playing is not restricted to any one country. And as a result the exposure to other views from outside when not actually playing the game and just conversing can only be a good thing. If more people bothered to talk as much as those in online communities did I would be convinced that we would have a lot less problems then we have today.
So I say thank you for online gaming. Thank you for allowing me to talk with people around the world, to hear their side of the story on numerous topics, for letting me fly to other countries and meet those I have debated topics with. The online gaming community may well bridge the cultural gap and lead the way for a more peaceful future, where the only real violence is online violence. A beautiful dream? Maybe, but perhaps it's not as fanciful as one thinks. The online world is bringing us together, and even if it is for blowing each other up, that's only the game. The friendships made online can last a long time.
So......what are your views on it?