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Title: Gaming in a social world : examining the relationship between social competence and online video game involvement
Author: Kowert, Rachel V.
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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The proliferation of affordable and accessible Internet connectivity has changed the way video games are played by allowing individuals to connect worldwide in shared gaming spaces. These highly social environments allow players to connect, interact with, and learn from each other. However, there is a growing concern that these social environments also have the potential to displace real-world connections and interactions, contributing to a variety of losses in ‘offline’ sociability (Chiu, Lee, & Huang, 2004; Cole & Griffiths, 2007; Kim, Namkoong, Ku, & Kim, 2008; Peters & Malesky, 2008; Shen & Williams, 2010). While the association between online video game play and social incompetence remains widespread, so much so that it has evolved into a core component of the cultural perceptions of those who participate within online games (Kowert, Griffiths, & Oldmeadow, 2012; Kowert & Oldmeadow, 2012), empirical evidence illustrating this relationship has been conflicting and the potential mechanisms underlying these associations remain unclear. The work contained within this thesis aims to clarify the veracity of previously drawn conclusions, and evaluate social differences amongst adult video game players to uncover if, and how, online video game involvement supports, or undermines, the development and maintenance of traditional social skills. To this end, three, large-scale survey studies were conducted. While the results indicated that more involved online players display some variation in social outcomes as compared to other game playing groups, a general lack of unique or magnified relationships between Involvement and social outcomes within online players largely discredits the contention that increased online video game involvement inevitably coincides with severe social consequences. However, the emergence of inverse, linear relationships between video game involvement, the importance and likelihood of achieving offline social goals, and social expressivity, and a positive linear relationship with emotional sensitivity, both off- and online, does suggest that video game play may be a socially displacing activity and that users of this medium could be experiencing some social changes due to use. Taken together, it can be concluded that there are consistent links between video game involvement and social skills, which are likely attributable to social displacement effects. However, these relationships are not unique to, or substantially magnified within, online communities.
Supervisor: Oldmeadow, Julian A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available