via Games Industry

A new study by researchers at Nottingham Trent University, published in the US journal CyberPsychology and Behavior, dispels the myth that online gamers are asocial.

“This study has revealed many aspects of MMORPGs that were not known before," said Nottingham Trent University professor Mark Griffiths. "Previous research has suggested that gamers are socially inactive, but MMORPGs are actually extremely social games, with high percentages of gamers making life-long friends and even partners.”

Looking at nearly 1,000 online gamers from around the world, researchers found that three quarters of gamers make good friends with the people they meet online. Almost half have met in real-life situations, and one in ten went on to develop physical relationships.

According to the study, entitled "Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers," gamers played an average of 22.85 hours per week. The most popular MMORPG in the study was World of Warcraft.

The study also determined that more than 30 per cent of gamers found themselves attracted to another player, and that 40 per cent chose to discuss sensitive issues with online friends rather than real-life friends.

“As well as making good friends online, 81 per cent of gamers play with real-life friends and family, suggesting MMORPGs are by no means an asocial activity, nor are the players socially introverted," said Griffiths.

“The virtual world that these games offer, allow players to express themselves in ways they may not feel comfortable doing in real life because of their appearance, gender, sexuality, age, or other factors. They also offer a place where teamwork, encouragement and fun can all be experienced.”