This study traces the boundaries of online-based social networks and its possible extensions and intersections with offline social networks. It focuses on the massive multiplayer online (MMO) gaming community. Most online gaming research has only addressed one side of the equation, that is, the online aspect of social interaction, omitting the offline context. The primary objective is to look at both offline and online social contexts of gamers. The data analyzed here are part of a bigger research project. Using a sample of 242 respondents and a total of 1,452 social ties (three online and three offline) this work addresses the differences and similarities between online gamer’s offline and online networks. Around 72% of the participants were between the ages of 18 and 37. This group provides insight into the management of social interactions and ties in the digital age among millennials and the coming-of-age of Generation Z. The analysis suggests that overall offline ties are slightly more important than online. Still, this does not imply that online ties are not meaningful at all. The length of their online relationships plays a significant role in how participants qualify their ties. Most participants that had not met face-to-face were willing to meet their online ties. They also reported sharing personal and everyday life matters with their online social network at a lower rate of their offline network. Time spent with online relationships stemming from online gaming and a cooperative environment is more likely to be considered higher quality time. This suggests that in MMOs the gap between online and offline relationships is becoming narrower.
Arroyo-Flores, J. (2019), "Online–Offline Social Ties in Massive Multiplayer Online Games", Schulz, J., Robinson, L., Khilnani, A., Baldwin, J., Pait, H., Williams, A., Davis, J. and Ignatow, G. (Ed.) Mediated Millennials (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 51-69. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020190000019004Download as .RIS
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