Video games are fun!
Although I may be Captain Obvious, it’s important to note this simple observation. If games weren’t fun, then 150 million Americans wouldn’t play them. It’s also important to note gamers aren’t just college age or younger. The average age of all people who play games is around 34 years old. Further, females account for 47 percent of all gamers.
Clarifying the age of gamers extends beyond the stereotype is important. Video games are an influential media and large business. Given their wide-ranging popularity, it’s unlikely that they will be replaced anytime soon.
Since a wide array of people enjoy games discussions around video games as a scourge seem pointless. Instead of viewing video games as “the end of society,” we should examine how gaming can benefit people.
You can Contribute to the Game Community
Many video games are now primarily, if not solely, an online experience. Video games have moved from something you play alone or with a few friends to something you play with hundreds if not thousands of other players.
Popular genres currently include MOBAs, Battle Royal, and FPS. Of course, this isn’t to say that single-player experiences don’t still exist. Instead, it’s just acknowledging that a growing number of games are prioritizing or solely building multiplayer experiences.
Since these games have huge player counts, smaller communities naturally develop. People’s desire to form smaller communities creates a golden opportunity. Since games attract a large number of people, it’s highly likely you’ll find a group of people who you’ll vibe with.
In MMORPGs, these communities are usually in the form of clans or guilds. The idea of clans has also reached other games like Fortnite, COD, LoL, and so on.
Once you identify a clan of chill people, you can ask to join their community. It’s like a real-life version of Sims! Although forming a community with strangers may be scary at first, the community can become a place you enjoy spending time and where you make friends.
I still struggle with self-confidence. I was super timid and disliked talking to others until I played MAG. In MAG, noncommunication wasn’t an option if you wanted to have a good time. Although I ran into the occasional asshole, generally people were nice, especially as I got better.
Eventually, my adventures led to me being invited into a clan of people. Although they were strangers, we developed a bond. We laughed, had good games and bad games, but we enjoyed the experience with people of a similar temperament.
We also exchanged tips on how to play better and what we thought were the superior strategies. Over time, my input became valued and it was a great feeling. I slowly learned most people are nice and I’m not as intolerable as I believed. An additional bonus was that as I improved I could help new members.
While I still struggle with self-confidence, this experience reminds me people can like me. My time playing MAG also taught me how good it feels to contribute to a community. My desire to learn how to best form harmonious communities is largely attributable to this experience.
I still feel uncomfortable around new people and in new communities, but I know I can slowly become comfortable and a valued member.
You can Become Good at Something
According to Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, a critical component of happiness is esteem. Part of developing self-esteem is curating a skill. While Maslov’s theory is contested in academia, it seems good enough for now.
Several authors and thought leaders agree that being valuable is empowering. I especially love Cal Newport’s take on this belief. In essence, he claims we develop a love of life and our craft through doing good work.
Cal’s argument is that at first, we’ll likely hate our work when we realize how incompetent we are. But, if we stick with a particular craft and develop the required skill, we will eventually grow to love the work and value ourselves more in the process.
I experienced this phenomenon. I loved Starcraft II when I was in high school. During my junior year, I spent a disproportionate amount of time playing this game. At first, I was awful. I felt awful and often got frustrated with the game, but I couldn’t put it down. Losing was never fun, but I loved the mechanics and yearned for a well-earned victory.
As I continued to play and improved my mechanics, I got better. In a little over a month, I went from bronze (the lowest rank) to Gold/Plat (top quarter of players when I played.) My friends also benefited from my improvement. They would ask me questions about the game or if I could play a certain way so they could practice against it. As my skill increased, I was able to resolve their issues more often.
Starcraft II was largely what kept me going during this otherwise dark year. After earning Gold in SC2, I felt like I was capable of developing the skill in most things if I put in the effort. Before, I felt like my success in academics was a fluke and I was destined to be a loser after school.
It sounds dorky, but I was genuinely proud. I set my mind on becoming decent at something and was able to hit the mark in a fairly short period of time. Confidence is often gained by earning credibility with yourself.
How to Use Video Games to Build Self-Confidence
Hopefully, I convinced you to try and use video games to build your own self-confidence. I also realize you may be confused how to do this. Below is a four-step process which should be a good starting point
- Find an interesting game with a positive community
- Enjoy the game and look for similarly chill, nice people
- Join/form a guild with them and improve together
- Share your thoughts and knowledge as you improve
Finding a Community
Since the first step will likely be the hardest, this is where I’ll focus most of my attention. There are three communities I’d personally advise against joining. These would be League of Legends, Overwatch, and Dota 2.
Although there are many wonderful people in these communities, overall, these communities are regarded as highly toxic. Considering you already suffer from lower self-esteem, these may not be the best places to begin building your confidence.
On the flip side, there are some communities I would recommend joining. Eve online is generally regarded as a welcoming community. Additionally, I obviously enjoyed my time in the Starcraft II community, but I don’t what it’s like now. Lastly, my friends generally enjoy the fighting game community. They highly recommend the Smash Brothers Community.
If you find a game interesting that I haven’t commented on, googling for forums dedicated to that game is a quick and easy way to investigate. After you scroll through a few pages of responses to other players, you should get a sense of how welcoming these communities are.
Pushing Through Your Fear
I’ll also note that if you suffer from low esteem then you would likely ask yourself why anyone would want you to join their group. I know I still struggle with this thought myself. To act in spite of your doubt, I’d recommend 20 seconds of courage and ask when the time is right.
At worst, they’ll say no but will kindly explain why they aren’t looking for you to join at that moment. At best, they’ll welcome you with open arms and you’ll begin your journey into becoming a new member of their community.
Improving at anything makes people feel good. In the case of large multiplayer games, skill can also make you desirable. In turn, you can find access to communities of wonderful people who welcome you for your skill and personality.
Once you realize people can enjoy your presence, and you start to make their lives brighter, I firmly believe your own life and self-view will improve.