Gaming community ethnography

Today, gaming has become a vital part of life. Many people, primarily teens and young people, like gaming. Because of the virtual reality aspect that they convey, video games have grown in popularity. Gaming has a variety of consequences on communities, both positive and negative. The following is an ethnography of gaming among a college student population. Data was collected through observation, and the results were documented for future reference.

The community to be observed is made up of college students from various universities. These students had several locations of meeting for game purposes set up in their neighborhoods. These places which were large shops were fitted with screens, PlayStations, gaming pads and other equipment that facilitates gaming. These stores provided a conducive environment for gaming through the incorporation of music. The shops had red lighting which created the mood for comfortable gaming. The players seemed to be stress-free as they played or settled in the stores. These places also had pieces of furniture including sofas to accommodate players and spectators.

Several observations on the community were made. The fact that it was composed of young people meant that the players were sociable. This aspect was observed through how different members interacted. Each station had at least two players who associated with each other throughout the game. The players often made jokes and complimentary comments to each other to encourage the continuation of the game. They also collaborated on decision-making concerning the number of rounds to be played per session.

Competitive phrases were also noted as each player set to win the gaming session. Other players formed teams that competed against each other. These groups showed collaboration and effective teamwork and also encouraged competition throughout the games. Phrases such as ‘finish him’ and ‘you’re done’ were observed as competitive terms that supported the winning team to claim their victory.

The social nature of games has made them an essential aspect of society. Gaming often encourages positive emotions through active engagement in the games (McGonigal, 2011). These feelings cause better interactions among players, thereby promoting a united community. Gaming encourages social interaction which is as a result of interaction during playing and formation of teams (Redmond, 2010). Most players also prefer to play with friends, causing the interactions to enhanced friendships. The social nature of gaming also makes gamers socially active. In cases where the gaming partners are not friends, communication over gaming forms a social bond. This social obligation results in the formation of new relationships and also and better social relations.

Gaming also enhances community building through the formation of teams during gaming sessions (Redmond, 2010). The interactive nature of video games has eased social interactions. As observed, players formed groups to encourage winning and promote competition. The teams developed could either be virtual or physical. Through such interactions, they can come together for the positive development of the community. Video games provide problems that require critical thinking when solving them (Sicart, 2013). As a result, gamers apply critical thinking when faced with real-life problems, putting them in a better position to answer community problems.

Moreover, video games encourage competition, making the players goal oriented as they seek high achievements (Redmond, 2010). This makes gamers high achievers in life as they are used to the nature of competition. However, such game could cause a disadvantage on the morality of gamers. Gaming does not elicit ethical responsibilities because the players only play by the rules (Sicart, 2013). As such, the choices they make are based on the standards instead of moral obligation. The solutions that gamers come up with are usually strategic and could either be ethical or not. As such, players lack in moral responsibility.

Additionally, gaming improves memory and attention among the players (Boot, Kramer, Simons, Fabiani & Gratton, 2008). Games are art that focuses on player gratification, with a specific set of goals. The need to achieve these goals causes gamers to be attentive and increases their knowledge base of the moves to make to achieve the goals. Video games also make use of music that creates a theatrical effect based on different levels of the game. Music has been known to soothe the mind and therefore improve attention for the players.

Based on the reflections described above, I observed that gaming is an essential aspect of the community. Gaming improves interactions and serves as a unifying factor for members of the community. I also discovered a surprising fact that gaming had various benefits. This realization changed my attitude towards video games, which I previously thought had no interests on gamers. I was also surprised by how strangers could come together at the gaming shops and interact easily over the game. The most valuable lesson from the observation was that gaming promotes positive social interactions, which is the backbone of a thriving community. However, future observers should look into the effect of gaming on internet addiction, as well as immoral behavior such as online gambling.

In conclusion, gaming is a sufficient influence on a community. For college students, gaming brings together students from different institutions that form lasting relationships. Gaming also has a positive effect on the mental ability of players. Gaming should be encouraged but also controlled to prevent addiction.


Boot, W., Kramer, A., Simons, D., Fabiani, M., & Gratton, G. (2008). The Effects of video game playing on attention, memory, and executive control. Acta Psychologica, 129, 387-398.

McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken. New York: Penguin Press.

Redmond, D. (2010). The effect of video games on family communication and interaction (Graduate). Iowa State University.

Sicart, M. (2013). Moral Dilemmas in Computer Games. Design Issues, 29(3).



Descriptive content

Physical setting- The setting had a spacious room fitted with several screens and different video gaming equipment. There was plenty of furniture in the form of sofas for people to sit while either playing or just spectating.

Social environment- This environment composed of young, talkative people. They all seemed to know one other which could be told from how they interacted. Each screen mostly had two players; however, others had more than two players. Their communication was laced with competitive phrases. The players also associated with other people other than their competitors at least twice during a gaming session. Their body language also shifted as they played from tense postures to relaxed postures. Mild conflicts were witnessed during what was termed as unfair play. All players seemed to work together when making decisions concerning the rounds to be played.

Participants and their roles- The participants included the players who were either playing at that particular time or waiting in line for their turns to play; observers who cheered players; and team members who were encouraging their teammates so that they also have a chance in playing.

Meaning of observations from perspectives of participants- The participants looked forward to gaming sessions. They are well vast with the rules of the games. The game brought them together.

Exact quotes related to the relevance of the study- The simulator used phrases such as ‘finish him’ to encourage the winning player to claim their victory. The players used phrases such as ‘you’re done’ to mean that one of the players was losing the game.

Impact of the observer on the situation observed- the observer encouraged more people to play which led to the formation of more teams.

Reflective information

Ideas and criticisms on observations- there were fewer female participants as compared to male players. The players were also noted to be very sociable and team players. However, the levels of morality during the games were low.

Concerns and unanswered questions arising from data analysis- video gaming was an interactive activity that led to community building through connecting the players both physically and virtually.

Insight and reasons for specific phenomenon witnessed- team building practices were seen because of the idea that working in teams gave a higher chance for victory. The body language observed was due to both the pressures of the game and the ease of being among fellow players, who in this case are also peers.

Thoughts on future observations- future observers should look into the effect of video games on internet addiction as well as the academics of the players. Moral issues should also be considered in future research.

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