As with other people.” (BrainyQuote, n.d.) The term

As
the topic of discussion states, there are just several visual media forms out
there in the world and even though they all differ in various ways such as
existing to spread and display information only or for actual entertainment if
not both, I can see how each and every single one of them has been
technologically determined and socially shaped over years and years. I selected
online multiplayer games as my case study for the reason that when I think
about a visual media form, I feel “it’s about being in a parallel digital world
that exists alongside our own, communicating with other people, playing with
other people.” (BrainyQuote,
n.d.) The term technological determinism is a theory that assumes the society’s
technology determines the development of its social structure, or in other
words, how it’s socially shaped. (En.wikipedia.org, 2015) Evidently, online
multiplayer games only exist as a result of technology, due to them being online.
The fact that they are multiplayer games, and not just online games is an even
bigger reason as to why they are mostly socially shaped, because they are created
to bring troops of people together who create another world for ourselves which
we can use to escape our real world at any given time, obviously with the use
of the internet. (Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook,
2018)

 

As we know, the internet plays an
integral role in our daily lives. Technically, these games are still only a
recent thing as internet is still only quite recent itself, as even as little as
fifty years ago, there was no such thing as an online multiplayer game. Technology
improves itself every single day, and it has spread everywhere as shown by this
included. MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) offer a huge, open ‘world’
as most would like to call it for users to become part of. The first online multiplayer
game ever to exist Empire, an arena-shooter style game which was a was created
on the PLATO system in 1973. (En.wikipedia.org, 2017) If we are to compare this
game of the same style to the ones existing today such as TankiOnline, the
change is extremely obvious technologically as we now see the better-quality graphics,
all sorts of maps, different gameplay options such as capture the flag, playing
as part of a team or single-player, space mode and several others. With
technology in gaming advancing all the time, these MMOGs themselves advance
always and get updated regularly by developers. It is safe to say that there
has been an immense success in regards this factor as today we appreciate
things such as gesture control if needed, mobile gaming for more comfort,
role-play games which in my opinion really brings out that ‘extra world outside
of our world,’ in addition to many others. (Mentalfloss.com, n.d.)

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With games
having advanced so much with the aid of technology, this visual media form, the
online multiplayer gaming really is ‘an icing on the cake.’ (Digitaledge.org, n.d.) Not only have the gaming features
improved over the years, but now we can see how there is a huge selection of
these – my personal favourites being Role Playing Games). I feel as if these are the ones who truly have
had a huge impact on people and are the reason why gaming in general has not stopped
getting popular and examining all of the pros, I do not see these ever going
out of style. Even within the category of MMORPG, there are numerous categories
within itself to suit all players around the world such as – gambling (Texas
Hold’Em Poker), racing (Need For Speed), roleplay (HabboRP), open world (GTA)
etc. (MMORPG.com, n.d.)

 

It is believed that escapism is the theory behind individuals becoming
so addicted to this world of online gaming as it itself creates a society of
its own, and even though no one might not know any details about each other, even
simple things such as names or ages of others, a special bond can easily be
created. This theory defines itself as the avoidance of reality by absorption
of the mind in entertainment. (Blackwellreference.com,
n.d.) So, if we choose to believe that this concept is possibly the biggest
reason as to why such a big part of society chooses to play these MMORPGs, it
is clear that this media form isn’t only determined by technology only, but for
sure is also socially shaped for the most part.

 

Evidently, as these sorts of
games create a new community, a society for the people around the world, the
creators have no choice other than actually designing them and developing to
please the world’s society. If there are not enough types to please everyone’s
tastes, the gaming companies will receive less money. The developers and
creators must look at every single game feature and make sure it is suitable
for their target market, yet still suit anybody who wants to try it out. For
example, if we choose to look at TankiOnline which is a MMORPG which would be
considered to be aimed at the masculine gender as the main focus of the game is
to be a tank and shoot other tanks in order to gain points and win the game,
the team who created the team would have had to still ensure that females would
be able to play if they wish, and it has proven to work out very well today.
This was easily done by developing a few simple things such as inserting a set
of rules within the game and making sure the tanks would not only be of just
masculine colours, but feminine ones too. (Tankionline.com, n.d.)

 

Unquestionably, this is only a
small example of how these games, as they are a dimension outside of reality
open for anyone to join as they wish, would have to be shaped by not only what
society wants, but just by who the people are themselves. With every game,
there are always rules even if not stated, or nine out of ten times, there is
usually an age restriction. There are several explanations as to why there are
age restrictions, and even though most individuals would think it is because of
some online games invented for teenagers/adults only, such as a lot of the
role-plays (IMVU), but also because of online safety. As a result of the
virtual world we may enter when signing up to one of these games, and new
communities and groups are formed, the enormous issue is cyberbullying. Our new
online worlds provide such an easy way for people to be who they want to be, and
in a lot of cases possibly someone who they are not, which then makes the
person anonymous, and this can lead into unfortunately a small percentage of
individuals using this visual media form as just another weapon to harm others.
Having issues like such, because society isn’t always ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ or
what we would like it to be, it was once again shown how we ourselves shape how
something is created, such as this case study itself. (Bauman and Yoon, 2014)

 

After examining both factors, the
success and most importantly the outcome is something I would be sure to be
technologically determined and also socially shaped. Online multiplayer games
cannot be what they are without technology or society. If technology didn’t
exist or was to one day disappear, there would of course be no such thing as
this media form. With no society to register, and play the games each and every
day and escape reality, with new people who become either friends or enemies,
these games would be meaningless, as they are there for multiple people to
discover another world that is part of our world.