06
Nov 17

Do online games have a sense of community?

Nobody can deny that almost everything is online these days. When corporations have Facebook and Twitter accounts to interact with customers and produce advertising at a staggering rate, it’s hard to imagine that at one point, the internet wasn’t in every household and in everyone’s hands at all hours of the day. With the rise of the internet, more and more people have connected to each other that might not have otherwise been able to, and we have seen an increased presence of online communities. Message boards, IRC, chatrooms, and, of course, online video games are all examples of mass communication and subsequent community formation.

In many online games, the game itself allows for players to group together and unite under a common banner. These groups can take on many names — clans, guilds, and so on. By allowing players to have a dedicated game infrastructure to their group, communication is easier, and players can cooperate on in-game goals. However, sometimes those goals don’t always stay to just the game, and this sort of thing can lead to circumstances such as those that led to Dr. Mark J. Kline’s fascinating column titled, “Physician, Gank Thyself”. In essence, a licensed psychologist who was treating a particularly bad game addiction in one of his patients got curious about the game World of Warcraft, which was the source of his patient’s addiction. He wondered about how a mere video game could result in someone rebuking every part of life that “got in the way” of the game. As a result, he took to playing it, and he eventually found himself addicted to the game — though not as extreme as his patient’s addiction, he noted that games like World of Warcraft are of a different magnitude than offline games, and part of what rooted him to the game were the people he played with in his in-game “guild”. They regularly confided in him and each other about different problems they faced — dull, monotonous jobs, marriages in trouble, mental health, and more (Kline, 2010). Within the game, they could seek comfort in an escapist world while still remaining in contact with other human beings. But can an online game really have a sense of community when it’s so divorced from real life that it can serve as escapism?

Schneider et al. (2012) define a sense of community as having four components: Membership, Influence, Integration & Fulfillment of Needs, and Shared Emotional Connection. Using Kline’s experiences as an example, we can see that his guild absolutely met these four criteria. Membership in his guild was exclusive; one had to be invited into the guild to be part of it. Influence within the guild was also possible, even though one might think in a game, everyone would be on the same level of influence. Kline (2010) found that once he disclosed his profession, more and more of his guild’s members relied on him for emotional support and advice, demonstrating a higher level of influence within the guild. He also realized that his guild was a fulfillment of many guild members’ emotional needs; while his patient’s addiction became debilitating, some of these people clearly used World of Warcraft as a more healthy hobby to take off the edge of long days of work at grueling jobs. In this sense, the guild they had formed together in the game met the need to have somewhere to belong to without having the stress of real life. Finally, the shared emotional connection is perhaps one of the most tangible elements of an online game’s community. When the guild succeeded, so did the individual members. Kline noted that he specifically did not want to let down his guild by being ill-prepared or bad at the game, indicating a social connection and even obligation to the community he was part of.

An online game cannot replace conventional social interaction; however, as the world becomes increasingly virtual and always online, it’s important to recognize the relationships that form within these virtual spaces. Sometimes, they can be to the point of debilitating escapism as Dr. Kline’s patient and eventually Dr. Kline himself discovered. In moderation, though, perhaps online games with groups like Dr. Kline’s guild can supply a community for lonely and isolated people.

References

Kline, M.J. (2010). Physician, gank thyself. The Escapist, 253. Retrieved from http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/issues/issue_253/7529-Physician-Gank-Thyself

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understand and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


06
Nov 17

Living in a large city

Large cities tend to have the most unique communities. Cities such as New York City and Chicago have large populations of people. This creates a melting pot in the community that makes up different race, ethnic background, class, religion, political status, and much more. This formula creates a large community within the boundaries of these cities. Many people even have expectations for how people within these communities respond to everyday life. You might hear something like only in New York City people bump into you and keep walking like nothing happened. This shapes the characteristics and culture of certain communities. With the origins of communities coming from hunter-gatherers of a max population of 200 people (Schneider et al. 2012) why do so many people enjoy living in large populations. Has the thought process of people shifted overtime away from the hunter-gatherer mentality. Is the technology and communication era the reason for the change in mind set?

As noted in (Scheider et al. 2005) communities originate back to hunter-gatherers. These communities with a maximum capacity of around 200 people provided the members with the many qualities people seek in communities. Qualities like sense of community, and citizen participation (Schneider et al. 2005). Research shows that these values are essential in communities for its people to have a quality life.Having that sense of belonging in a community promotes involvement inside your community. Inside a small community it is easier to meet the four elements of a positive sense of community. (Schneider et al. 2005) notes the four elements are membership, influence, integration and fulfillment needs, and shared emotion connection provide of a sense of community. As mentioned before with the sense of belonging you develop emotional connections with other people in your community. Why is it then that many people love to live in large cities when cities do not have these characteristics of smaller communities.

Living in a large city creates stimulus overload to our bodies. Stimulus overload is when to much is going on around us that it is impossible to decode all the information around us. This occurs because our nervous system is overwhelmed by the environment that we block out and select what we choose to respond to (Scheider it al. 2005). This challenges a sense of community because it does not provide the necessities to have a sense of belonging in the community. This is why when you travel to New York City people walk by you like you are not even there. Yet, people love to live in New York City because they like the be a part of something big.

People will sacrifice influence and a sense of belonging to be a part of something bigger. Maybe this is because over time people have developed a different mindset. With the huge number of people living on the planet and the wide available technology to communicate with others it seems that people are more disconnected than ever. These small communities were more traditional in the past because they did not know anything else. In today’s world the information overload that people have has changed the mindset of small communities. Millenials have flocked to large cities. Their sense of community has diminished. Millenials seem to be perfectly fine with living in large cities to give up the positives of being living in small communities.

Although living in the city there is exposure to more crime, and disregard for others (Schneider et al. 2005). It seems more people are flocking to large cities to work and live. People as mentioned before like to be a part of something big. Cities have a certain culture and lifestyle which intrigues people. The amount of diversity creates a unique culture that cannot be found elsewhere. As technology improves will more people continue to move to cities to live and find opportunities or will we see a growth in small communities.

Schneider, Frank W. Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. SAGE Pub., 2012.


05
Nov 17

Creating a cross-cultural campus

 

Creating a cross-cultural campus

  1. Introduction

As colleges look to create an educational and social environment that will contribute to developing global citizens they must also take responsibility to be intentional in their support of programming to encourage the cross-cultural growth of their students both domestic and international.

  1. Proposal

In order to be proactive colleges and universities must commit staff, money, and space to support a cross-cultural and inclusive campus. Programming for international student involvement on campus should focus on providing support and experiences to ease student adjustment and facilitate interactions with all members of the university community. To promote a diverse campus, program development must first identify a theoretical foundation that has supported other successful programs. In addition to addressing the developmental needs of college students the program should emphasize the value of the interaction of international students with both domestic students and faculty. In this paper a sample program will presented by honing in on the educational and social initiatives that will encourage understanding, adjustment, and learning about self through experiences and friendships.

  1. Background

Currently most universities actively recruit international students, in order to support their vision statement of having a community of global scholars. Mingled with the benefits of having international students on campus is also the responsibility to provide the international students appropriate support to facilitate their adjustment and inclusion.  In addition to the normal changes for any student going to college, an international student may need support on the basics of living in a new country, lonliness, and the need to be included.  Without these needs being met international students are more likely to want to return home or act out. While services may be in place, and domestic students may know how to navigate the system, international students may need something extra and universities must commit to meeting those needs.

  1. Solutions

Addressing the adjustment issues of college students can be influenced by intentional programming and opportunities to increase knowledge, understanding and skills that will support the students at home, work, and as global citizens.

  1. Theoretical Base

Basing the program development on Gordon Allport’s contact hypothesis the program is intended to promote interactions that will allow for commonalities to be discovered and friendships to grow. Participants, domestic and international students, having a shared goal of meeting and learning about other cultures will benefit from the planned events. Additionally, opportunities to express and develop personal and social identity in a safe environment would be applicable for all students involved, both domestic and international.  Social Identity Theory (SIT) applied in this framework will encourage the development of all students and will also result in building the type of community that universities’ are committed to.

 

  1. Sample Program

The proposed program would include creating opportunities for social interactions for students through mentoring, and social experiences. Practical support should also be available for navigating the administrative side of college and the basics of cafeterias and grocery stores that offer varieties and social norms that may be new to the international student. Programs that are culturally inclusive: talent shows, fashion shows, cultural food festivals benefit both the international and domestic student and the campus as a whole.

  1. Conclusion

Developing a program focused on the adjustment and retention of international students by utilizing current domestic and international students provides an opportunity to encourage interactions and support the development of personal and social identity.  The result of this type of program aids the students’ adjustment, their satisfaction with the experience and the universities ability to declare the scope of their global vision and cross-cultural interactions. The results of this program will also support the university financially and extend a loyal alumni base. Cross-cultural programs can benefit every aspect of the university and should become a staple of the programs options available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Andrade, M., & Evans, N. (2009). International students: strengthening a critical resource. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pensu/detail.action?docID=466684

 

Burkhardt, J.W. (2013). A qualitative study of undergraduate international students’ everyday experiences with cross-cultural interactions and the student adjustment process (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Northeastern University, Boston, MA. Retrieved from https://repository.library.northeastern.edu/files/neu:1081/fulltext.pdf

 

 

Glass, C., Wongtrirat, R., Buus, S., & Aw, F. (2015). International student engagement: strategies for creating inclusive, connected, and purposeful campus environments. Retrieved from http://sk8es4mc2l.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Abook&rft.genre=book&rft.title=International+Student+Engagement&rft.au=Glass%2C+Chris+R&rft.au=Buus%2C+Stephanie&rft.au=Wongtrirat%2C+Rachawan&rft.date=2015-03-01&rft.pub=Stylus+Publishing&rft.externalDocID=11170673&paramdict=en-US

 

Zhang, J., & Goodson, P. (2011). Predictors of international students’ psychosocial adjustment to life in the United States: A systematic review. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(2), 139-162. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/science/article/pii/S0147176710001288

 

 

 


05
Nov 17

Virtual Community

The emergence of the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has significantly changed today’s society. Unlike the old days when people used the post office frequently and had physical social gatherings, today’s events have eased everything. However, these platforms have provided a new virtual or electronic community (Schneider, et al. 2012).

All the social gatherings that were so popular during the old days are now happening virtually over the social media. The society can only be described as a global one thanks to the social platforms that are available to the masses. This is because no matter where one is, they can be able to reach their friends, relatives and family members through these platforms instead of traveling to meet them physically. In fact, the essence of face to face talks has been erased and forgotten courtesy of the online platforms. This global community has given rise to the interest in research on how these virtual realities might affect behavior in a nonvirtual world (Schneider, et al. 2012). Surely one may think there might be a slight difference in realities of the virtual and nonvirtual world. One study conducted by Putnam (1995 cited in Schneider, et al. 2012) found that “there has been a steep decline in what Putnam described as civic engagement and social participation” (pg.281). This may further research conducted by Reich (2010 cited in Schneider, et al. 2012) which found people experience a sense of community on the internet.

When such changes take place, it means that the old ways are no longer viable; they no longer make sense. The sense virtual world has already taken over each and every aspect of the life of today’s generation. The socialization has been extended to not only during daytime but any time of the day or night. This means that whatever the interaction, it does not have to be limited by the time of the day. This has generally made me interested in how my own life would be affected by social media and the internet. Although, I don’t have social media I utilize the internet daily for my online courses at Penn State. I have only been on campus a few times but I feel as if I am a part of the Penn State community and have a connection to fellow students. This proves how the internet can foster a sense of inclusion and create communities. In my normal nonvirtual world I don’t have social media and don’t gather or socialize with other Penn State students, however, I still feel a strong sense of community via the internet resource I have to gain the education.

 

References:

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understand and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


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