Be empathetic, be compassionate, be kind

19th May 2020

Author: Logan Hartnell
Adler University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
@_Lhartnell

In the midst of an international health crisis, many of us find ourselves turning to the virtual world to maintain a semblance of social connection. Video games – especially those with chat features – have become a medium for people of all ages and backgrounds to stay connected with one another.

Pre-pandemic, some may have questioned the value of online connections; however, research continues to show benefits from interactions through video games and other virtual platforms. With the vast ranges of gaming from virtual board games to massively multiplayer online role-playing games, almost anyone can experience the benefits of online gameplay.

Online communication has dramatically shifted what many consider to be social interaction. Human beings can connect with one another in a manner that breaks the former barriers of distance and time, connecting to friends or even strangers across the world instantly. The concept of support has been redefined due in part to the access of both professional and informal help from online interactions.

As with many technological advances, however, there exists both benefits and drawbacks. The ease of anonymity and lack of perceived consequences have, unfortunately, also contributed to the rise of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and fraud. With the advances and expansion of online communication, it is crucial to explore the roles and influences these interactions can play in our daily lives. 

Our study used social network analysis (SNA) and descriptive statistics to examine factors related to social connection, support, and depression in online gaming communities. We examined the experiences of a gaming community consisting of 37 members. Our findings suggested that people have used online interactions to supplement possible deficits they experience in real-life support.

We also found data to support the use of informal support (non-professional) for those experiencing depressive symptoms. This study exemplifies a template that can and should be used in future examinations of this topic exploring possible differences in areas such as race, gender, age, and gaming platform. 

We are all collectively facing a crisis that leaves many feeling alone, both emotionally and physically. As our data suggests, one may never know how much a kind word can brace the weight of someone’s struggle.

In honour of this year’s theme of kindness, our study illuminates an important lesson that most are taught at a very early age. So simple, yet so easily forgotten when we are faced with our own daily stressors.

We are all collectively facing a crisis that leaves many feeling alone, both emotionally and physically. As our data suggests, one may never know how much a kind word can brace the weight of someone’s struggle.

Whether it is a comment over social media, a group video chat, or conquering a collaborative mission on a video game, be empathetic, be compassionate, be kind.

The full article to which this blog relates can be found on our Insight platform.
 

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