Competitive Internet Games and Social Interaction

The popularity of competitive internet games has skyrocketed over the last few years. One of the most popular of the sites is Pogo was launched in 1999, and took over (Total Entertainment Network), with only a few games. Poppit, one of my favorites, was released in 2000. Club Pogo became available to the public in 2003, and with more games being released monthly, membership grew quickly. When I logged in this morning to work on my current badge, over 230,000 players were online. Players compete in online games for a variety of reasons. Some are just naturally competitive and really want to beat the socks of everyone else in the room. Some like playing to see how many badges and tokens they can win. Others like socializing with people from other places.

I’ve talked to retirees, stay at home moms, students, and people from about every state around the country. Sometimes you’ll even meet someone from your area. I’ve met a lot of people on game sites that have formed lasting friendships with people they probably never would have met if they didn’t love online games. One woman I spoke with had even planned her vacation in order to visit her online friends around the country. People love to talk about their families and pets (but of course they’re family too) and some interesting conversations come about as a result. A mutual friend that my daughter and I met while playing games is very creative and has sent us some beautiful crocheted cross bookmarks, along with instructions. They were a lovely and unexpected surprise.

In some games, the rooms are arranged according to age or particular topics. Card gamerooms are arranged according to the player’s ability, how many players can compete in the game, or social rooms in which players of all abilities can play. It’s a great arrangement if you’re a beginner at a particular game and can find a more experienced player to help you to learn. It’s also a great way to make new friends. Some rooms even host tournaments for particular games. Although I’ve never participated in them, they seem to draw quite a large number of players, depending on the game.

The potential for problems can arise if you aren’t careful about who you talk to online, but it’s the same with any chatroom or site where’s there’s interaction. A simple rule is to not give out any personal information, and if you feel uncomfortable about someone, don’t talk to them. Pogo has an option to have chat turned off or to mute a player that is potentially troublesome. Another option is to block certain players from seeing where you are on the site. Although there are teen rooms for the games on Pogo, parents should use discretion when allowing their teens to play online. The majority of the people who play interactive online games are there to play and enjoy the company of others with similar interests. A lot of online games are designed to test your skill and other players often offer tips to those who are new to the game. Seniors and those who work long hours often don’t have much interaction with other people on a regular basis, and playing games and chatting with new friends can make all the difference in what would otherwise be a lonely existence.