The popularization and affordability of Internet connectivity has changed the way video games are played by allowing individuals to connect worldwide in shared gaming spaces. These highly social environments allow players to connect, interact with, and learn from each other. This technology has greatly expanded video games’ social functionality by transforming them from a small group activity enjoyed by co-located peers into a vast social network. With this transition have come concerns that these new, mediated social environments can detrimentally impact a users’ sociability by displacing real-world connections and interactions. This association between online game play and social incompetence has been well documented anecdotally; however, empirical evidence illustrating a relationship between video game play and interpersonal social outcomes has been conflicting.

Video Games and Social Competence addresses this academic void and explores the nature and consistency of the relationships between video game play and social outcomes through the presentation of a series of studies exploring these relationships and addressing the following questions: Are there significant associations between video game involvement and social competence? If so, are these relationships attributable to media effects or innate qualities of the game players themselves? The work contained within this monograph uses novel approaches and analysis techniques to unravel the mechanisms that underlie the relationship between video game involvement and social outcomes and generate a better understanding of the relationships between media use and sociability. This monograph also contains the first formal presentation of the “Cycle Model of Use,” which was developed to unite the two predominant hypotheses in the field relating to the mechanisms underlying the relationship between media use and social outcomes (social displacement and social compensation) within a single model.

If this research sounds interesting and you would like to learn more, Video Games and Social Competence can be ordered via Amazon or directly through Routledge. It is important to note that the content within this book does not assume specialist knowledge but builds from the bottom up. As such, it is accessible to a range of individuals interested in this topic and research across a variety of disciplines, such as media studies, communication studies, and psychology.