The Internet has transformed the face of almost every activity around the globe. It provides a venue through which people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds interact and share ideas. Mobile phones and PC manufacturers have devised game apps designed to help people interact as they make fun. Games are certain types of apps fixed in mobile phones and PC that are designed to stimulate fun. The topic of games having an interaction value has sparked heated debate among scholars with some experts asserting that games are only meant to provide fun to the players (Cole and Griffiths 561).
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Others, however, claim that games ease communication and interaction between the players thus bringing people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This paper seeks to prove the view that mobile games stimulate communication between the players thus bringing cohesiveness among them. In the achievement of the stated purpose, the paper shall report the findings from a research work previously carried out by the author using both the quantitative and the qualitative methods of research. The paper shall compare the findings of the author with the findings from other scholars to support the view that games act as a medium for communication between the stakeholders involved.
Castronova found that games brought together individuals from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds due to the similarity in the goals of each member (56). All the players share a common interest, which is to maximize their overall winnings. To achieve the stated objective, they need to interact and share ideas on how to play the games to guarantee their continuous winnings. During the interaction, the players share skills and resources to maximize their playing skills. The players interact through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, emails, and WhatsApp. Each player tends to prove his/her exceptional skills regarding playing the particular game in question. Since the players come from different cultural backgrounds, their interaction facilitates inter-cultural communication.
Kobayashi states that games promote cohesiveness between the players who seek to maximize their play skills through the sharing of ideas with the other players (546). The players often form a group on social media that facilitate the sharing of skills and ideas regarding the effective playing of the different games. The players establish a bond that facilitates their interaction hence promoting cohesiveness. In other cases, the players establish two or more competing groups and act like competitors. The winning group is acknowledged by the others or even rewarded at the expense of the losing groups. The interaction between the players when the competition is ongoing is a common phenomenon, which facilitates the sharing of ideas and the passage of the playing skills.
Peña and Hancock argue that online games promote communication between the players as each player seeks to elevate his/her playing skills (98). He identifies social media as one of the most communication channels that players use to pass the skills to each other. According to him, the developers of the game software open websites that facilitate the players to make reviews and give feedback. The reviews act as training tools for new players. Besides, they spark interaction between the players as each player seeks to educate and mobilize the other players to embrace the game. Such interactions may foster a personal relationship between the players. The interaction surpasses cultural and other differences between the players due to the commonality of the goals amongst the players.
However, Teng holds a dissimilar view, and he claims that games are devised to entertain the players and that they do not foster communication between the various players (232). In that regard, he claims that games do not allow interaction between people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds as claimed by the different scholars. He states that though communication may be evident among the players, it may not be effective in fostering communication between persons from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds since it involves communication between friends.
This research is designed to unearth the effectiveness of online games in facilitating communication between persons from different racial and religious backgrounds. In the achievement of the said purpose, the study uses both the quantitative and the qualitative research methods. The qualitative method involves the use of interviews while quantitative research involves the use of observations to unravel the communication involved in the gaming sessions.
Research is founded on two types of hypotheses, namely, the null and the alternative hypothesis. In light of the mentioned statement, this research is based on the following duo hypotheses:
- H1-Games facilitate communication between persons from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
- H2-Games only serve the entertainment purpose and they do not facilitate such communication
The sample population was drawn from a cross-section of players from among the fellow students. To qualify for inclusion, one had to meet the following criteria:
- S/he had to be conversant with at least one online game
- S/he had to have attained the majority age
- Be a user of the social media
The qualitative methods of research involve the use of interviews and questionnaires to collect data that is then analyzed and sampled in later stages. For this research, interviews were used to collect data from the sample population. The findings from the researchers conclude that the games provide a venue through which the players interact and share ideas thus promoting cohesiveness among the players. Players from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds interact and share ideas about the effective playing of the game hence promoting the bond between them.
The first interview was conducted between the author and Hattie Lin, who was playing Plants vs. Zombies Online on PS4, at the time of the interview. Hattie explained that she had been playing the game for the previous two months and her playing skills had greatly improved. She attributed her prowess to her interactions with other online players. According to her, she had gained a lot from the interactions as the other players took her through the basics of the game. The interaction took the form of direct messages with the other players and reviews from the experienced players.
Reviewing such insights by other players in some of the reputable websites added her skills, thus making her a pro in the game within a very short period. She further explained the game, Neko Atsume, to be coupled with how much she valued the game. She noted that the game involved setting a background that attracted cats. Establishing such a background would require exceptional skills that could only be acquired from interaction with the experienced players. Thorne notes that players interact through online chats and social media to further their gaming skills (307).
The desire to maximize one’s skills facilitates the interaction between the players fostering a good relationship between them. Racial and other personal differences among the players is not an issue in the interaction. Hattie noted that she interacted with the other game players through social media specifically Twitter and the WeChat. She noted that she always shared pictures of her latest achievements in social media to attract the attention of other players. All the players in the social media are welcome to review her postings irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds.
The interactions between the players may encourage others to join the conversation and embrace the game to fit in the group. The introduction of new members to the game increases the interaction as the new players seek to gain insight into the best gaming practices. The increased interaction ensures that the conversation between the players is ongoing and that more ideas keep on arising. During the interview, Hattie noted that she introduced other players to the game whenever they met for dinner and other events revolving around leisure. The point is illustrative of the communicative value of games among the players.
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From the interviews, I noted that the games facilitate interactions between the players regardless of their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The only aspect that brought the individuals together in the common interest to maximize their winnings. In that regard, each player interacted with anyone in the social media if at all s/he understood the game and was willing to share his/her insights with the other players. The findings are congruent with the findings of other researchers who have found that games facilitate intercultural communication as the players seek to maximize their gaming skills.
The quantitative method of research involves the use of observations to collect data that shall be used to verify the hypothesis of the research (Castronova 45). For this study, the author observed a group of players as they played their favorite games. The findings from the observations revealed that the players indeed communicated with each other as the games were ongoing. The author observed the chats with friends and other players from her chatbox. The chats were devised in such a way that they were educative and assistive to each other. Some of the games that the author personally played involved the organization of the members into clans with each clan working as a team to defeat the others. The clan members would meet in a public place, deliberate on their strengths and weaknesses, and mobilize each member to remain active to help the clan win the game.
A case in point is the meeting between the author and the other clan members at the Dim Sum restaurant. The meeting brought together all the clan members to deliberate on the progress of the game. Such a meeting is illustrative of the effectiveness of the games in bringing together people from different ethnical backgrounds to interact and share ideas. The success of one clan involved the effective utilization and sharing of the resources among the clan members to facilitate collective attacks. Once a certain clan wins the game, the winning techniques are shared amongst the clan members elevating each member’s gaming skills. Such interactions are supportive of the view that the games stimulate the interaction between people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
This research forms the platform on which future researchers may base their research to unravel the effectiveness of games in facilitating the interaction between people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The findings suggest that indeed games facilitate communication between the players irrespective of their cultural differences. Future researchers should use both quantitative and qualitative techniques to further knowledge regarding games as communication tools. The researchers should invoke a larger sample population to allow for the generalization of the results.
The small sample size used by the author to illuminate the point that games facilitate communication is too small to offer reliable results. In that regard, future researchers should use a larger sample size to obtain highly reliable results.
The topic of online games being effective communication tools has not received much attention from researchers. The scholars in this field have been arguing about the issue prompting the need for research to justify the assertion that games are effective communication tools. This paper seeks to support the effectiveness of online games in facilitating intercultural communication. The paper is based on the findings of research carried out by the author in an attempt to add to the existing literature on the topic.
The findings illuminate the view that the games not only provide entertainment to the players but also facilitate communication between persons of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. A review of the literature also illuminates the importance of games in facilitating communication between the various players. The need to maximize the individual gaming skills shapes the interaction between the players with cultural and ethnic differences playing no role in the interactions. In conclusion, therefore, games are facilitators of intercultural communication and not obstructers as indicated by some scholars.
Castronova, Edward. Synthetic worlds: The business and culture of online games, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Print.
Cole, Helena, and Mark Griffiths. “Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 10.4 (2007): 575-583. Print.
Kobayashi, Tetsuro. “Bridging social capital in online communities: Heterogeneity and social tolerance of online game players in Japan.” Human Communication Research 36.4 (2010): 546-569. Print.
Peña, Jorge, and Jeffrey Hancock. “An analysis of socioemotional and task communication in online multiplayer video games.” Communication Research 33.1 (2006): 92-109. Print.
Teng, Ching. “Personality differences between online game players and non-players in a student sample.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 11.2 (2008): 232-234. Print.
Thorne, Steven. “Transcultural communication in open Internet environments and massively multiplayer online games.” Mediating Discourse Online 5.7 (2008): 305-327. Print.