Playing in a Guild Is Good for Your Health

| 16 Sep 2009 22:11
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Contrary to popular belief, being in a guild in an MMOG doesn't turn you into an antisocial loser. It can actually be quite beneficial to your health - if you can control yourself, that is.

Those of us who keep company with the geekier of geeks might be familiar with the sting of being blown off on a social engagement for something far more important: "Sorry guys, I can't come over and play Rock Band while drinking an entire case of Mountain Dew Game Fuel, I've got a raid with my guild in World of Warcraft."

It's easy to say that forming personal and social attachments to friends in MMOGs is an unhealthy thing, especially when it's you who's getting the shaft because of it, but according to a new study coming out of Australia, being in a guild and having genuine emotional ties to the people in that guild can actually be good for your psychological well being.

"Players often form friendships with each other, and while adventuring together in the world, fighting monsters and slaying dragons, they often discuss what is going on in their offline lives with these friends," Huon Longman, a researcher at the Queensland University of Technology said. "I found the more benefit [gamers] drew from these online relationships the less they had negative psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression and stress."

Of the 200 World of Warcraft players surveyed, Longman says that most kept their habits within sensible bounds: 20 or so hours of play a week. 10%, however, were going way beyond that, as far as 83 hours per week in one case. These people weren't seeing any of the benefits Longman found in the others. "They weren't receiving any more social support from the game and they were receiving a lot less from offline and they had significantly more negative psychological symptoms," he said.

So that's what one scientist says. Is it true for you? At this point I'm probably averaging maybe half of what Longman says is an average playtime per week, and I don't have many friends in-game, but in my more dedicated days I can certainly say that WoW wasn't bad for my social life. I did talk about my real-life problems with guildies, and communication's always a good thing, so yes, I suppose it could have had its benefits. Having people to help you get those phat loots isn't so bad either.

[Via WoW.com]

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ben---neb:

That One Six:
I can't manage that; I can't manage any kind of relationship. I'm apparently menacing in a sociopathic way, as I never smile, and always look angry or sad, and I have been told that I give off no emotions at all. Well, that's what a person gets for ten straight years of being mocked and hated while repressing all hopes and dreams as unrealistic and stupid.

I'm pretty messed up, aren't I?

You see, the behaviour you classify as abnormal is a lot more common than you think. Personally I try and hide all emotion when I'm say walking up town or with strangers. Also my normal expression can often be quite close to the "A family member has died" expression which has in the past led to a few hilarious incidents.

As for the smiling I would recommend forcing yourself to do it. Trust me on this it helps so much. Its the main part of body language that expresses to everyone else "Hey, I'm a safe guy to be around and I'm friendly too."

As more and more people don't smile if you do then it really works. Just try smiling at a complete stranger and they will nearly always smile back. Its almost an instinctive reaction. And you will find it hard to do at first but practise will make perfect. Also smiling will make your brain think of happy memories which in turn will make it easier to smile naturally.

Hope I've been some help.

Seems like sound advice all in all, but I cannot smile at will. I can only smile when I am laughing, and even that doesn't last very long. Thanks anyway, though. Also, I don't try to hide my emotions; I simply have none.

I always thought it's good idea to socialise in a game built on grinding.

For example, me and my cousin connect to BattleField Heroes. We chat, we have some fun annyoing the hell out of each other and the other team.

By the time I stop playing I've gone up two levels without realising it. Socialising in games as the added benefit of making levels easier to get.

MMOGs are just so much better if you can get a good guild, I was hating WoW until I joined the PCG guild then I loved it.

My guild died.
Now it's a one-cleric show...

I miss my online buddies, one of them told me almost everything going on in his life, it was pretty shit he was trying to tell his parents he was gay etc

I didn't see any negatives to playing wow, I still went outside with my irl friends and stuff.

That One Six:
I can't manage that; I can't manage any kind of relationship. I'm apparently menacing in a sociopathic way, as I never smile, and always look angry or sad, and I have been told that I give off no emotions at all. Well, that's what a person gets for ten straight years of being mocked and hated while repressing all hopes and dreams as unrealistic and stupid.

I'm pretty messed up, aren't I?

You see, the behaviour you classify as abnormal is a lot more common than you think. Personally I try and hide all emotion when I'm say walking up town or with strangers. Also my normal expression can often be quite close to the "A family member has died" expression which has in the past led to a few hilarious incidents.

As for the smiling I would recommend forcing yourself to do it. Trust me on this it helps so much. Its the main part of body language that expresses to everyone else "Hey, I'm a safe guy to be around and I'm friendly to"

As more and more people don't smile if you do then it really works. Just try smiling at a complete stranger and they will nearly always smile back. Its almost an instinctive reaction. And you will find it hard to do at first but practise will make perfect. Also smiling will make your brain think of happy memories which in turn will make it easier to smile naturally.

Hope I've been some help.

Wait, what? 83 hours? Holy crap, almost 12 hours a DAY?! Jesus Christ, that's really being a no-life.

You sleep 8 hours (maybe), play 12 hours... and have what, 4 hours to eat/go to job for 3 hours/wash once in a while?

I'd say that theory's pretty close to the truth. Playing an MMO can give you a sense of 'community', but having a guild means you have constant access to a close circle of friends that love the game as much as you do and are there to help and support you. The fact that being in a guild helps ward off depression seems like a no-brainer, really.

I can vouch for that. The internet has always been a place that I can overcome my social anxiety. The anomimity helps me talk about things that I wouldn't normally talk about.

That One Six:
I can't manage that; I can't manage any kind of relationship. I'm apparently menacing in a sociopathic way, as I never smile, and always look angry or sad, and I have been told that I give off no emotions at all. Well, that's what a person gets for ten straight years of being mocked and hated while repressing all hopes and dreams as unrealistic and stupid.

I'm pretty messed up, aren't I?

You sound like a fun person to be around!

*Hugs*

New title needed: Survey made using small focus group, all have a vested interest in appearing healthy.

My WAR guildmates are pretty cool. Found out a few of them are from my city (Brisbane, Australia) so we've talked about local stuff like music and football. We also have a good time explaining Australian slang to our US guildies. They're more a sounding board than real friends in my case, but I can be more myself because they will never know me personally. It's a great social outlet, not dissimilar to work or uni friends. You have enough in common to hang out and chat for a while, but not so much that you're investing time in building a relationship.

A few people I played WOW with in the past I've built solid relationships with, even if those were strictly in-game. It's never going to be the same as knowing someone out-of-game, but you'll spend extra time helping each other, always check to see if they're on and talk about WOW or other MMOs. It functions like a regular friendship, albeit with the imposed limitations of often being on the other side of the world and having nothing in common bar the game itself. People still value stable, trusting relationships despite these limitations.

You'd never call either of these a substitute for RL human interaction, but not being anti-social in social games has to be a good thing, right?

I can definitely say along with my "tangible friends" I can count people from well over 6 different countries among my circle. While sure I've never met a single one of them in the real world there's a real bond there that I know if I have a problem I can just bitch their ear off to let loose some steam.

If only the guilds i join stop kicking me out cause i'm always the one wiping them when going to Naxx.
That's the exact reason why i chose to be a Paladin; i could heal myself and be lonely.
God..
thank god my bandmates play, too xD

Somebody should let Codex know, she'd probably love to hear it.

I am assuming that the point of the study was to map psychological health, rather than the typical tub-o-lard syndrome that is frequently associated with gaming, in particular MMO's.

In response to the study I have to admit that it wouldn't suprise me at all, but not in the "duh if you have a real life then you are healthy yahuk" instant conclusion kind of way. Recently my GF was diagnosed with bipolar depression. Now we both play WOW, she is definately not as big as a player as me, but still, both raid in a social guild with members we know pretty well (some are colse to being, dare i say it, freinds, oh noes). She did however quit for a month for various reasons. What both of us realised is that downward spikes of depression were more common when she had quit, subconsiously missing the social connections perhaps. That study seems to ring true with that in mind, so i can only assume that it has an equal, if less obvious effect on more chemically stable individuals.

WoW Guilds: Now add 10% to your character's max HP!

SomeBritishDude:

The_root_of_all_evil:

Amnestic:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Does Cyber count as social interaction? Just asking.

As much as calling up a phone sex hotline counts as social interaction, I suppose.

Good, just checking. Are you getting your 5 a day?

Root, sometimes you scare me.

Only sometimes? :)

So if you spend at least some of your time outside, socialising with actual humans between your limited gametime, you won't turn into a hideous, overweight, unwashed, antisocial cavebeast?

Wow. My tax dollars probably went into this.

I need to become a statistician. 5 minutes on Google and I'd have come up with the same answer, for slightly less government money than that guy.

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