"Gamers are not the anti-social basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes. They are highly social people," said Nick Taylor, an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University.

This would not be a surprise to the gaming community, but it is worth telling everyone else. Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm, he added.

Researchers travelled to more than 20 public gaming events in Canada and Britain, from 2,500-player events held in convention centres to 20-player events held in bars.

They observed the behaviour of thousands of players and had 378 players take an in-depth survey.

The idea was to track the online and offline behaviour of gamers, focusing on how they communicated with each other.

They found that gaming was only one aspect of social behaviour at the gaming events.

"We found that gamers were often exhibiting many social behaviours at once: watching games, talking, drinking and chatting online. Gaming did not eliminate social interaction, it supplemented it," Taylor said.

This was true regardless of which games players were playing and whether a player's behaviour in the online game was altruistic.

For example, a player could be utterly ruthless in the game and still socialise normally offline.

The researchers also found that gamers did not distinguish between the time they spent playing games and the time they spent watching other people play games.

The paper titled Public Displays of Play: Studying Online Games in Physical Settings was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.


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