Are Tabletop Games More Social Than Video Games?
In a time when Coronavirus is keeping us apart from our friends and family, you may be feeling the need to socialize more than ever. Perhaps part of that need has taken you to playing more multiplayer video games. Does that actually provide better socialization than playing tabletop games? The answer may surprise you.
1. Toxicity is Less Apparent in Tabletop Games
As someone who plays both video games and tabletop games, I am well aware of the toxicity that exists in video games. PVP games or even MMOs are key examples where toxicity can really impact a player emotionally and psychologically. Because large-scale games have an open chat that exists across the server, players are constantly subject to speaking with tons of people in a given time.
Some of those people are genuine players who are just enjoying the games. Others are what are considered Trolls. These are individuals who have taken it upon themselves to grief the other players as much as possible. That may be by hurling insults in the chat, using sexist, racist, or homophobic language in the chat, or performing some action in-game that impedes the progress of the character deliberately.
Because most online games don’t allow you to choose the kind of players you’re settled with, there’s no real way to escape the toxicity in a video game. You may be able to turn off the chat, but that also means that you may miss vital information given by a genuine player.
Toxicity in video games is well-known.
It also exists in tabletop games. Many DMs have nightmare experiences of players trying to sabotage one another–and not for fun’s sake either. Players also have nightmare experiences with DMs with control issues. However, it isn’t as prevalent in tabletop games.
This is because players are, usually, face-to-face with one another. Even when playing virtually, many opt to use a camera or at least have audio recording enabled. Being face-to-face with someone, rather than being protected by the anonymity of the Internet, automatically puts a person on slightly better behavior.
It doesn’t work for everyone. Yet when comparing video games to tabletop games, there’s less toxicity that gets in the way of proper socialization.
Except for that one extremely competitive family member that always ruins things . . .
2. Tabletop RPG Games Encourage Socialization
Unless you’re playing a multiplayer video game, most video games are designed to be played on your own. They’re great and fantastic experiences, but they’re not going to give you that sense of socialization that you need. Even if you talk to your friends or an online community about the game, they’re all separate experiences that aren’t shared together in the moment.
Tabletop RPG games provide that experience. They have groups of friends, or strangers, come together and play a silly game that encourages working as a team. The best part is you don’t even have to play yourself. This can give people an opportunity to come out of their shells if they’re naturally shy.
I’m an introvert. Yet when I’m DMing and playing my NPCs for my players, it’s a freeing sensation. I’m able to get out of my own head and just have fun. Tabletop RPG games reward socialization. It rewards players that speak with one another to overcome an obstacle. A good DM always rewards its players when they take their roleplaying in earnest.
Socialization is at the very heart of tabletop RPG games.
Unless you find yourself with a party of murderhobos.
3. Tabletop RPG Games Let You Share Emotions Together
One of the hurdles that video games have yet to jump successfully is being able to make players share emotions simultaneously. We may all choke up over a particular part of a game, but we rarely do it together at the same time.
Tabletop RPG games, because they happen live, means your emotions are also unfiltered. A great DM can bring a party together, take them through several adventures, and make them care about each other and their own characters. When something terrible happens, like the death of a party member, the rest of the party can allow themselves to feel it.
Sharing emotions like grief or anxiety builds bonds between people.
The same goes for feelings of triumph or victory. When the players defeat a difficult boss, they’re ecstatic. They celebrate together. They go home taking that feeling with them. It’s something they continue to talk about several campaigns down the road.
By sharing emotions together, especially for men, it can help break down the stigma associated with feeling emotions.
And toxic masculinity is definitely something that needs to die with the old world.
And the Winner is . . .
It’s pretty clear that tabletop games, particularly RPGs, are more social than video games. While video games can bring friends together over long distances, it doesn’t provide the same enriching socialization that tabletop games do. If you want to feel connected to your friends more or just want to enhance the bonds that you have with them–or to meet new friends!–starting up a tabletop RPG like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, or Pathfinder is a great choice to make.
Let us know in the comments some of the great experiences you’ve had when playing tabletop games with your friends!