The stereotype of the isolated video gamer is as antiquated as Pong—teens, at least, see gaming as a social activity, new research shows. A clear link exists between gaming, in which virtually all teens participate, and civic engagement, MSNBC reports. That doesn’t mean every Grand Theft Auto expert is a budding philanthropist, but neither does it imply the only people-skill that kids learn from World of Warcraft is trash-talking.
Some games employ concepts of fair governance and civic pride; mentoring new players in other games can mirror volunteering in the real world. And the results hold for bad as well as good learning experiences. “Just as some playground experiences are enriching and some are unpleasant for young people,” a researcher said, “one can imagine that that would be true in the game world.”