For those of you old enough to remember the Atari 2600, or the original Nintendo Entertainment System, social gaming had an entirely different meaning from today. Social gaming in the 80’s meant having your buddy, or buddy’s come over to your house to play video games. Most games from that time were only two players. So if you had two friends over it was a, “I get to play the winner” system. If you had lots of friends over, like when I used to hold wrestlemania parties, we would develop a whole tournament system to take place over the day and evening. My first experience with true social gaming was on the PC playing various MMO’s. My first console experience with social gaming was on the original Xbox. I still remember playing Mech Assault on Xbox, and thinking how awesome it was to be able to talk with the people I was playing with. This was also probably when the explosion occurred in toxic gaming, but that is a discussion for another time. I did not have any friends that played Xbox, and did not have a group of online friends that I would play with. I found it then, and still do today, difficult to form friendships online. Not because I struggle with social interaction, but because of my chosen profession I tend to be a bit guarded when online.
This continued through my time on Xbox 360, and this is when I introduced my son to the greatness that is gaming. Fast forward to December 2015 and the release of Rainbow Six Siege on Xbox One. We have two Xbox One’s in our house so that my son and I can play online together. My son and I really enjoyed Rainbow Six Siege, and we played the heck out of it. My son had more time to play then myself due to my work schedule, and due to the team aspect of this particular game, he met many different individuals online. I make sure to monitor his online interactions, and there have been times when the discussion has kind of gone like, “Report that guy right now, and block him!” On the other hand we have had some completely different, and surprising interactions.
My son and I met a guy a few years older than himself who was a Junior in High School in December of 2015. This individual introduced us to some of his friends. We began playing Rainbow with this group on a regular basis, and began referring to them as, “the guys.” Most of “the guys” were in High School and a few years older than my son. One of the individuals we met was a First Responder like myself, and we all began playing together when we could. After about nine months of feeling out “the guys”, we arranged a meet up to surprise my son. There is about six hours between us, as we live in Western New York State, and they are all from New York City. Our meet up was fantastic! We had a great time playing some miniature golf, and decided we’d have to meet up again. Now two trips to New York City later, we have forged fantastic relationships with “the guys.” Now I know that with the age difference between “the guys” and my son, there is a good chance that there will be a growing apart from this group. Only because some of the guys have gone onto College, and a few of the others will be starting new parts of their lives in the near future. Hopefully we can all still stay in touch, however if we can not, the friendship that we’ve had and especially for my son, has been a great experience. These are friends that we never would have met without gaming, and I am truly thankful to have met “the guys.”
Thoughts on Social Gaming From a Younger Perspective
So the group previously mentioned by my dad has been a really good experience for me. Before meeting them the only world I knew online was that because of my age I will be ignored, or made fun of. After meeting them I have learned that your age doesn't matter, and nothing else such as race or gender should matter either. Since meeting them I have met others that have been really nice to me as well. The bonds to the people you meet may break down, but I will do anything in my power to make sure they do not. A few months ago one of “the guys” said he did not want to talk to any of the others and that made me genuinely sad and I cried. That just shows you how close we were, and how tight our bond was. Thankfully we have been able to keep great bonds and relationships with “the guys”. I find it funny that my first trip to New York City was to see these people we met on a video game.
With Xbox One X coming out this month I believe it’s a good time for newcomers to jump in and try out social gaming on Xbox. The vast majority of the time you will have great experiences. If you meet someone who is not a positive gamer, well Xbox has a great reporting system, and does take action on valid reports. Most likely you will meet some really great people, and possibly form some real life friendships.
Positive gaming is always better than negative gaming, and you may make some pretty good friendships in the long run. The XONEBROS is a positive gaming community. If you can, please consider supporting the XONEBROS on Patreon.
Authors Mathew & Nathaniel Goldsmith
I cut my teeth in gaming on an Atari 2600 and Commadore 64. I love all types of games from RPG’s to FPS’s. I’m a family man with a wife and two great children, a son and a daughter. Gaming is my relaxation from work, and it allows me to bond with my children doing something we all enjoy. My co-author is thirteen and loves gaming, baseball, and bowling. He also loves drama club, chorus, and band. He’s an amazing son, and I thank him for assisting me in writing this piece.