Computer games with multiplayer mode play a very important role in shaping the community. Over the last few years, the market has been flooded with hundreds of titles, thanks to which we can face a live player instead of a computer. Players are very happy to share tips, hints, and their emotions on various forums devoted to given games, and also set up clans to compete with other players as a group.
Peter Hirchmann, Lucasarts deputy director, believes:
“Playing against the computer is never as rewarding as playing against another human being. The Internet changed the face of games “
I completely agree with Peter Hirchmann. Back in the day, when text games were played online, no one imagined that the virtual world of a given game would accommodate several thousand or even millions of people at once.
Now it is starting to become a standard that does not surprise anyone. Thanks to the development of technology, our experience is completely changed and the game is varied. After all, a computer in games is code that works according to a pattern that we learn over time, and it gets boring. The competition with a live player is completely different, who analyzes the situation on an ongoing basis and tries to learn from his mistakes. Wagner James, a journalist specializing in video games, comments:
“In the past, when people gathered to play, there were no more than a dozen of them. When thousands or even millions of players participate in the game – it completely changes the nature of the experience. “
Before we start the game, we need to create an avatar that will be our virtual character. In some titles, such as America’s Army, which is a combat simulation of a US soldier, we are limited only to giving a nickname. In others like Second Life, we can decide everything. The biggest advantage and at the same time a magnet in creating an avatar (our virtual counterpart) is that we can be whoever we want.
If in real life we are short and fat, in the game we can become a handsome, tall, athletic man. If the character still does not suit us, we can change the skin color, gender, and the most picky can turn into an animal. Our character is limited only by our imagination. Many people think that such an escape into the virtual world is dangerous. It turns out, however, that this kind of digital label is closer to us than it seems at first. Ken Perlin, a computer technology lecturer at New York University, points out:
“When we dress in a suit, put on a tie and comb our hair – we create an avatar. We make a certain visualization of ourselves. “
Almost every online game allows us to develop our character, our avatar. In the case of the free America’s Army title, these are the so-called honor points. After creating an account, each player receives 10 such points, which are displayed in the game next to his nickname. The more points, the more experienced the player.
In order to gain experience in America’s Army, you need to collect the appropriate number of points during the game, which are awarded successively for: completing the mission objective, the number of eliminated opponents, and in the case of leaders for the number of remaining soldiers. The player loses points each time for shooting a civilian, teammate, and also for dying during the fight. When a player collects a certain amount of points, he gains an additional point of honor, if he loses too much, the point will be taken from him. Stuart Moulder, a video game consultant, comments:
“There is a very direct reward system in games, different from the real world. In real life, when we get to the office, no one gives us 5 experience points. You have to work and that’s it. “
In the case of Word of Warcraft, the player also develops their character, but in this case they start from scratch. After deciding what race he wants to belong to and choosing a nickname, he can start the game. During the game, our avatar gains experience points by fighting monsters and players of the enemy faction, performing tasks. Every few levels of experience, our character can learn new skills or improve those he already has. Initially, the character could be developed to level 60, but the next two additions to Word of Warcraft increased the limit to 80. The higher the level of the player, the more he can take part in more dangerous expeditions (so-called quests) and fight with more powerful characters during them.
Very often in Word of Warcraft it is impossible to complete a given expedition on your own, and thus gain valuable rewards and experience points. Some missions require the cooperation of even several hundred players at the same time. For this purpose, sometimes spontaneous groups for “special tasks” are created. Nick Yee, creator of the Daedalus project, in which he studied the dynamics of social structures in MMOs, a sociologist at Stanford University noted:
“Groups of short-term, task-oriented players are formed. They are 5 minutes, sometimes 30. Long-term groups usually have one leader, several senior officers and several hundred ordinary members. “
When we get bored of lonely rivalry between players from around the world, we can join a clan or start a new one. In almost every game that offers an online mode, clans of players are formed who want to play together under a given name (tag) for a specific purpose. Such a clan consists of a unique name that distinguishes it from others, a leader, a few more important players (runners-up) and from a few to several hundred regular players. The goals may be different: winning a competition, bringing together players from one city, etc. Stuart Moulder, a video game consultant says:
“You can play as you like, but it so happens that for a group to be effective, it needs a leader. MMO games (Highly Multiplayer Online Games) are so realistic in their social dynamics that in their environment such a system has created itself, as if recreating the beginnings of human civilization. “
In the case of America’s Army, clans can compete against each other for points in various electronic leagues (e.g. ESL – Electronic Sport League), thanks to which they climb the so-called ladder to the top. The more wins against other clans, the more points the team scores. In World of Warcraft, players focus on setting out on expeditions together that they could not complete individually. At the end of such expeditions, a very strong main opponent (boss) awaits them, for eliminating them players receive virtual currency and unique items. They can then be sold, bought and traded in a virtual marketplace. A good friend of mine – Decado, who got hooked on World of Warcraft a few years ago, comments:
“WoW’s popularity is due to several factors. The most important are the ability to play, depending on your preferences, solo or in teams (from 2 to 5 people) or rallies (from 6 to 25 people) (so the social factor – contact with other people in the game world). Depending on the size of the group, the player performs various tasks (quests) by defeating various, above-average strong opponents (so-called bosses) located in the world (on the surface) or in special zones called “instance” (various dungeons, dungeons, etc.) and this is the PvE mode, i.e. Player vs Enviroment. For fans of competing with other people, there is also a fairly well-developed PvP game mode, i.e. player versus player, where you fight the opposite faction, just like in the case of PVE in world locations or special instance zones (arenas, battlegrounds). A very important factor in the popularity of the game, in addition to those listed above, is also the well-developed economic side of the game where players have the opportunity to learn various professions divided into 2 types, i.e. resource gathering and manufacturing, and this is divided into subtypes such as collecting minerals, herbs, planting, tailoring etc. Players with the highest levels of profession initiation can earn money from items they produce by trading with other players or by listing items at the Auction House. Another factor determining the popularity of the game is a very long and arduous path of character development, which lasts many months and sometimes even years. Adding to these factors great marketing, which still keeps the game popular among players, we get a product that is regularly used by over 10 million players worldwide. 
Both America’s Army and World of Warcraft players have their own discussion forums where they plan their next moves, create strategies, or just chat and exchange experiences. You will find there various tips for both the game and computer equipment, tutorials for beginners, information about the clan and its members. Maciej Gawlikowski from Lublin, administrator of the official Polish website and America’s Army forum, tells about his adventure with the portal: “The website and forum were given to me as a gift by the previous owner, who I believe, based on my observations, decided that I would be suitable for running such service. At the beginning, I was not aware of the duties of the editor-in-chief, but I immediately got a lot of satisfaction from running the website. At the moment I treat it as my hobby, but I must admit that it takes me a long time.  ”
Such forums are usually extended with the so-called Hyde Parks where you can write about anything, not necessarily related to the game. Thanks to this, the forum is not only alive with the game and players visit it willingly. Ken Perlin, a professor of computer technology at New York University says:
“The paradox of games is that we use them simultaneously to satisfy our need for intimacy with other people and to keep those contacts at a safe distance.”
The Internet is full of stories about Internet gamers who died playing for days without leaving their computer. Some even set themselves alarm clocks so that they can join their team in the middle of the night to help them attack a faction of the opposing team. Cubituss talks about his addiction on one of the internet forums: “When I went to bed, I didn’t fall asleep right away, I couldn’t. My heart was pounding, I was reminded of the coolest actions of the day, I was rolling from side to side for long minutes. When the dream finally came, I dreamed of WoW, all the things I hadn’t had time to do mixed with real-world events, although in a mess, I can’t dream of structured, fictional dreams. In the morning a wonderful thrill, the auction house (in the game) and go to work. All the time I was playing I had a strong and unsatisfied feeling that I was still behind others – and I was, they played after school, and then usually from 7pm, that damn hour when I couldn’t be constantly online because I had to bathe and put the kids and then wifetime after all, so when I logged back in at 11 p.m., they were just going to go to sleep, it irritated me terribly. […] This irritation began to slowly spread to everything I was doing. It made me nervous when the movie I watched with my wife in the evening turned out to be too long and I couldn’t play because of it. I was annoyed by my children, who kept asking me for something, and I couldn’t stop the game for a moment and give them a water bottle or a cookie, because WoW cannot be stopped. I was annoyed that I had to go to some meeting, because that’s when the Battle of Lake Wintergrasp (the name of the land in the game) begins “
Cory Ondrejka, Linden Lab’s Head of Technology, comments: “In the days when telephones started to take off, there were a lot of alarming voices prophesying that people would never meet each other again because they would just be calling everywhere.
Each new communication technique raises similar concerns – the fear that the end of natural interpersonal contacts is coming. Many people give up television to play online. This means that they change the passive, consumptive attitude into activity and social interaction. From this perspective, the popularity of chain stores seems to be a very positive phenomenon. ”
Tracy Fullerton, a professor at the University of Southern California and a game designer, adds:
“We live in a global society, a reality that surpasses us. Games satisfy our need to belong to a specific environment while maintaining control over it. For someone who is not a gamer, it is terrifying to see someone completely absorbed in an activity that is seemingly pointless. I’m not surprised that my parents react violently. I believe that parents have not been adequately explained what this new medium is and what their children experience through it. ”
They experience a lot. Thanks to online games, players constantly communicate with each other. They learn to live in smaller and larger groups. They allow you to react to your emotions in the virtual world. They learn logical and strategic thinking. They develop economic and entrepreneurial skills (e.g. trading with other players in virtual items).
Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money, believes:
“Children learn how to organize entire societies, how to govern democratically, is much more than the pictures suggest.”
Many people who know each other only from games, from time to time organize integration meetings where they can get to know each other and talk face to face. It’s all thanks to the games. However, it should be remembered that everything must be done in moderation, and the above advantages cannot be used to buy another hour in front of the computer.
The material is based on the program “Video games – (r) evolutionary entertainment” broadcast on Discovery Science television.
 Own elaboration