Video games are sometimes presented as a desocializing activity. Adults then have the image of a child playing alone, monopolized by his console or his computer. Yet this picture is far from what video games are actually.
Video games are a socializing activity … simply because they are games. To understand it well, we must see how the game is a socializing activity, then we will see how this socialization can be done through a video game
Socialization through the game
Play is an innate behavior. Spontaneously, children play with their bodies, with the sensations they can produce and those they feel. This spontaneous game is supported by adults by encouraging some forms and discouraging others. The game is thus civilizing because it is an instinctual behavior modeled by the environment according to norms and beliefs. For the child, this civilization of instinctual behavior is through the process of self-regulation. All can not be played. At the time of play, the child acquires cognitive and social skills. To play requires to distinguish between the thing and the symbol that represents it. The game also needs to internalize norms, roles and to follow adapted behaviors
Moral behavior – that is, obedience to certain rules and norms built socially – is internalized in the game. Children learn justice, obedience to rules, the need to agree, and so on.
Socialization through the video game
Video games are social learning opportunities before, during and after games. The learning is done before the games because the children must first agree on the game they will play. Will they play Mario Kart or Rayman Legends? The discussions give everyone the opportunity to practice social influence. Children become aware of the weight they have in discussions. During parties, they learn justice, the need to follow rules to do something together. Video games are also an opportunity to cooperate, compete and cheat with other players. They allow the sharing and transmission of knowledge. The less experienced players learn from the more experienced. Finally, video games often provide an opportunity to discuss what has been played. There is around video games a whole culture whose integration is necessary to be able to play properly. Children learn and transmit to each other the technical vocabulary, the knack, the values, the heroic figures of their favorite games.
Video game players organize themselves into communities. Clans, guilds, gaming groups bring social experiences. Online, children create and manage identities that allow them to interact with other players. Ranks and nicknames recognize individual contributions to the group and community membership. Unlike other games, online communities can bring together players of very different ages. Children play with adults. They may have greater responsibilities, power and importance in the space-time of the game than an adult.
Children can build their own communities away from spaces and communities offered by adults. Behavior may be more of a concern to adults, but children need adult-provided frames for their games and to experiment with their own frames by re-inventing or modifying those that are passed on to them.
Video games are socializing activities. They allow children to experience roles and status, to be in contact with the imaginary of their culture, to build themselves as social actors.