PORTLAND, Ore. — Cyborg insects with embedded microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) will run remotely controlled reconnaissance
missions for the military, if its ‘”HI-MEMS” program succeeds. Hybrid-Insect MEMS–a program hatched earlier this year at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa)–aims to harness insects the way horses were harnessed by the cavalry.
“We have used horses for locomotion in wars,” according to Darpa’s description by its program manager, Amit Lal. “The HI-MEMS program is aimed to develop technology that provides more control over insect locomotion, just as saddles on horseshoes are needed for horse-locomotion control.”
Darpa cites that, historically, elephants have also been used for locomotion in wars, that pigeons have been used for sending covert messages, that canaries have been used to detect gases in coal mines, and that bees have been used to locate lands mines. Now it’s the moths and beetles turn to report for duty, just as dogs have already done.
Three research groups at the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boyce Thompson Institute were awarded funding by Darpa earlier this year, when the HI-MEMS program kicked off, and are expected to report preliminary results during each annual review of the three-phase fundamental research-and-development program. There could be a fourth phase at the end–if the program is a success–that transitions the technology of breeding insect battalions to the military.
“Michigan is focusing on horned beetles, while MIT and Boyce Thompson are working with large moths,” said Darpa spokesman Jan Walker. “The program’s first major milestone is scheduled for January 2008, when the contractors have to demonstrate controlled, tethered flight of the insect.”
The final milestone at the end of phase three will be flying a cyborg insect to within five meters of a specific target located some one hundred meters away using remote control or a global positioning system (GPS). If HI-MEMS passes this test successfully, then Darpa will probably begin breeding in earnest. Insect swarms with various sorts of different embedded MEMS sensors–video cameras, audio microphones, chemical sniffers and more–could then penetrate enemy territory in swarms to perform reconnaissance missions impossible or too dangerous for soldiers
Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.
“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”
Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.
First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.
Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”
Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.
Kennedy’s motives? “Like other rational people,” the memorandum explained, “[Kennedy] is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations.” But that high-minded concern represented only one of Kennedy’s motives.
“Tunney remarked that the senator wants to run for president in 1988,” the memorandum continued. “Kennedy does not discount that during the 1984 campaign, the Democratic Party may officially turn to him to lead the fight against the Republicans and elect their candidate president.”
Kennedy proved eager to deal with Andropov–the leader of the Soviet Union, a former director of the KGB and a principal mover in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring–at least in part to advance his own political prospects.
In 1992, Tim Sebastian published a story about the memorandum in the London Times. Here in the U.S., Sebastian’s story received no attention. In his 2006 book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, historian Paul Kengor reprinted the memorandum in full. “The media,” Kengor says, “ignored the revelation.”
“The document,” Kengor continues, “has stood the test of time. I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I’ve ever dealt with as a scholar. I showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery. Kennedy’s office did not deny it.”
Why bring all this up now? No evidence exists that Andropov ever acted on the memorandum–within eight months, the Soviet leader would be dead–and now that Kennedy himself has died even many of the former senator’s opponents find themselves grieving. Yet precisely because Kennedy represented such a commanding figure–perhaps the most compelling liberal of our day–we need to consider his record in full.
Doing so, it turns out, requires pondering a document in the archives of the politburo.
When President Reagan chose to confront the Soviet Union, calling it the evil empire that it was, Sen. Edward Kennedy chose to offer aid and comfort to General Secretary Andropov. On the Cold War, the greatest issue of his lifetime, Kennedy got it wrong.
On Aug. 3, 378, a battle was fought in Adrianople, in what was then Thrace and is now the province of Edirne, in Turkey. It was a battle that Saint Ambrose referred to as “the end of all humanity, the end of the world.”
The Eastern Roman emperor Flavius Julius Valens Augustus—simply known as Valens, and nicknamed Ultimus Romanorum (the last true Roman)—led his troops against the Goths, a Germanic people that Romans considered “barbarians,” commanded by Fritigern. Valens, who had not waited for the military help of his nephew, Western Roman emperor Gratian, got into the battle with 40,000 soldiers. Fritigern could count on 100,000.
It was a massacre: 30,000 Roman soldiers died and the empire was defeated. It was the first of many to come, and it’s considered as the beginning of the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476. At the time of the battle, Rome ruled a territory of nearly 600 million hectares (2.3 million square miles, nearly two-thirds the area of the present-day US), with a population of over 55 million.
The defeat of Adrianople didn’t happen because of Valens’s stubborn thirst for power or because he grossly underestimated his adversary’s belligerence. What was arguably the most important defeat in the history of the Roman empire had roots in something else: a refugee crisis.
Two years earlier the Goths had descended toward Roman territory looking for shelter. The mismanagement of Goth refugees started a chain of events that led to the collapse of one of the biggest political and military powers humankind has ever known.
It’s a story shockingly similar to what’s happening in Europe right now—and it should serve as a cautionary tale.
The high income or.middle class people can’t afford kids, but the poor can pipe out a lot of kids since the poor don’t pay much taxes. Their poor offspring are funded by taxes. The border security is very important in keeping the illegal aliens outside our borders. 85% of the government isn’t even shut down today. Trump isn’t bad. Democrats just lie, because keywiki.org just exposes them all anyhow.
Jim Acosta was surrounded by police officers who are seen walking behind when he made that Texas border video. Of course illegal aliens weren’t around him. He probably wasn’t in the right area either.
President Trump, declare national emergency over the wall. I’d do it too. You’re probably the only president who would have the balls to make that happen. Mr. President, you’re really ballsy!
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a store that sold everything a gamer needs? New games, old games, controllers, headsets, and even rare stuff like memory cards for last generation’s consoles? A store like that would be beloved by gamers worldwide!
Such thoughts probably spurred the creation of GameStop, a store that stands out as the one retailer that caters exclusively to gamers. Little did those dreamers know that GameStop would end up being one of the most reviled retailers in the gaming industry. Time and again, the minds behind GameStop prove that they only care about profit. Even if it means they ruin the very product they sell. And yet, gamers still go to GameStop. It might be because they have no other stores in their town, are blissfully unaware of GameStop’s history of scandals, or see their store as “one of the good ones.” Whatever the reason, people still shop at GameStop despite its very shady business practices.
Even I’m guilty of going back after swearing them off multiple times. As a former employee, I’ve seen firsthand the things that go on behind the scenes. Some of those things are downright terrible. So as a reminder to myself, and my fellow gamers, I think it’s time to pull back the curtain and take a good look at some of the worst things GameStop has done, still does, and will probably continue to do.
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The first thing everyone knows about GameStop is that it sells both new and used games. It’s kind of their thing (although Best Buy and indie game stores have been getting on that bandwagon in recent years). However, you might not know the lengths to which GameStop will go to sell you a used game. One thing employees will do, at corporate’s urging, is hide when certain games are on sale. See this copy of Borderlands The Pre-Sequel? Chances are the weekly deal is that it’s on sale for $34.99. It’ll even be on the weekly ad that way. GameStop would rather you buy the pre-owned copy for $54.99 as it’s more profitable for the company. So the pre-owned copies will be more prominently displayed. Some employees will even try to give you that used copy, even when you show them the ad with the sale price on it. Buyer beware!
24 All Your Pokémon Are Belong To Me
I worked at my local GameStop years ago, and there was one policy that baffled me. I was told one day that employees were allowed to borrow games from the store. As in, take a brand new game home to play as I pleased. It was allowed for the purposes of “research” so that employees would make informed recommendations.
It also means that the “new” disc you purchased was likely already played by every employee in the store.
I know I took advantage of this policy like crazy, trying out both new games I couldn’t afford and older games I was curious about but would never buy. I even took a copy of Pokémon Platinum the day it was traded in because the previous owner had caught them all. My Poké Bank now has the complete (and probably hacked) Gen 4 dex. Yes, I do feel dirty.
23 Meet Me Out Back
This one will make you think twice about trading in your games and accessories. Sometimes the store employees will buy them for a better price than GameStop itself offers. Again, this is something I witnessed at the store I worked in, so proceed with discretion if you want to try this yourself. When a customer tried to trade in an old Game Boy Advance case, my co-worker explained that it was too old for the store to take, but that she would take it herself. That’s when I learned that some GameStop employees will offer to meet customers after their shift to do some outside trading. The best part? The employees would give cold hard cash for the games and accessories, instead of a paltry amount of store credit.
22 Red Rocket
There is a company policy that traded in 3DS games need to be wiped of all memory. This is because, unlike discs, cartridges retain all of a player’s game data inside the actual game.
This policy was created during my time at GameStop, and I can tell you exactly why it happened.
The policy was a response to someone trading in a copy of the DS game Drawn To Life. In the game, players use the DS touchpad and pen to draw their own hero, weapons, and vehicles to populate the game’s world. A fun mechanic, but one that spelled trouble when the trader drew a rocket ship that looked like a certain male body part. A child bought the used game and discovered the crude vessel. His mother made a scene, to say the least, and so now GameStop employees must ensure that every used DS and 3DS game is wiped clean.
21 It Moves Us All (To Hate GameStop)
The Circle of Life is a longstanding policy that made major waves. The program is basically GameStop’s ideal model for operation. Customer buys a new game, trades in that game when they’re finished with it, uses the credit to buy more used games, gets convinced to reserve an upcoming game, buys that game, trades it in when they’re finished, so on and so forth. It’s supposed to create a self-feeding loop where the customer takes all of their business to GameStop. It makes sense, but it got sketchy when corporate doubled down on it last year, pressuring employees to meet certain quotas to keep the circle going or lose their jobs. Kotaku exposed the program, interviewing employees that said they had to lie to customers just to avoid selling things that didn’t help the Circle of Life. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Elton John had in mind…
20 The One Good One
This fact is actually one of the few nice ones. You know those huge displays that GameStop sets up in stores to promote new games? It turns out you can actually own them if you’re so inclined. Employees are instructed to throw out the signs and giant cardboard displays once the games they advertise become old news. Since the average GameStop employee is pretty chill (read: doesn’t care), they’ll let you take the displays home if you ask nicely. After all, your room or the dumpster, they get rid of them either way. Just show up on trash day ready to take it and it’s all yours. Because who doesn’t want a giant cardboard mural of Mario and the Rabbids next to their beds?
19 You Mean You Didn’t Want Tetris Block Lights?
The SNES and NES classic were just two more examples of Nintendo not understanding how to make enough product. One might argue that they’re actually very smart when it comes to controlling supply and demand. Whatever your stance, there was one clear winner of the retro consoles’ launches: GameStop. Both the NES and SNES classic sold out within minutes of appearing online. In a truly shady move, GameStop “discovered” a new stock of them after they sold out everywhere else.
So what did they do with these treasures?
They forced consumers to pay extra, of course! The last remaining NES and SNES classics were sold through ThinkGeek, a GameStop-owned business, in the form of bundles that had the buyer paying double for the console they wanted and a bunch of random statues and posters they didn’t. There was no option to just buy the consoles either, the bundle was mandatory. That’s one way to get rid of clearance items.
One internet user discovered the scheme behind GameStop’s traditional Black Friday deal. A poster on a popular gaming forum says that he checked a local GameStop’s used games weekly when he went out to get coffee. He was happy to see that some of the games he had been eyeing were going to be included in the Black Friday Buy 2 Get 1 Free deal. So he went to GameStop that Friday only to find that the games he had been looking at for weeks were all of a sudden $5-$10 more expensive. Essentially, GameStop raised the prices so that Buy 2 Get 1 Free on Black Friday would cost the same amount of money as buying three games any other day of the year. And that, friends, is how GameStop turns a profit.
Like most retail stores, GameStop hires a bunch of fresh employees to help with the holiday rush. However, in true GameStop fashion, the stores often skimp on proper training for these employees. According to a video by Youtuber Black Pocket Game Reviews, a former employee who loves to dish about GameStop, many stores will throw these new employees right into the shark pit.
These fresh-faced recruits work their first day ON Black Friday!
As you might imagine, this leads to all sorts of mistakes. Black Pocket says that one common mistake the new employees make is forgetting to put discs in game cases. This is especially tragic as Black Friday shoppers tend to be uninformed gift-givers just there to get the sales. Imagine your grandma giving you that much-hyped game as a gift, only to unwrap it and find an empty case!
16 Start Them Young
Since used game sales are so important to GameStop, its employees have come up with all kinds of shady tactics to sell them. One such technique is to sell them without the customer knowing. “Now wait,” you might say. “How does one buy something without knowing?” That’s where things get sketchy.
Because while we gamers might be wary of GameStop, there are plenty of consumers who aren’t.
Gamestop employees will deliberately target children and the elderly, two groups who are more likely to be uninformed when it comes to buying games. When asked for a certain game, the employee will go right for a used copy and ring it in. Since these customers aren’t expecting anything fishy, they’ll just complete the sale as normal. So make sure you go with your younger siblings when they want to buy a new game. And by go, I mean take them to Best Buy.
15 You Started This!
Exclusive pre-order DLC is all GameStop’s fault. As we all know (and hate), major release games have different DLC depending on which store you buy them from. Which essentially makes it impossible to have a complete game, unless you’re rich enough to buy four different copies of it at four different stores. Well, this practice of retailer-exclusive DLC was all started by GameStop offering game developers money for exclusive content. When pre-order sales noticeably shifted in GameStop’s favor due to these exclusives, other stores had no choice but do the same. GameStop has even gone so far as to brag about this practice like in the ad above. Which is infuriating as a consumer, but what can we do? Again, GameStop wins thanks to the power of having lots of money.
14 This Has To Be A Crime
Sometimes in the gaming world, a certain game becomes extremely rare. Typically it’s a Nintendo game, because as we discussed, Nintendo doesn’t know how to make enough product. Take Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. As a JRPG on a dying console, Nintendo didn’t think to produce many copies in the U.S. But when Shulk was added to Smash Bros, there was a sudden and fierce interest in the game he came from.
Since the game was a GameStop exclusive, it happened to have every copy in the States and a desire to sell them for more than the standard $59.99. So a memo was sent out instructing employees to open every new copy, take out the discs, classify them as used, and jack the price up to $89.99 a piece. It’s honestly a wonder this company is still allowed to do business.
13 Have You Heard Of Call Of Duty?
GameStop actually has a select few games that they push their employees to sell. On the surface, this might seem pretty typical of any major store. Don’t Target and Best Buy also have storewide displays for every Madden and Mario Kart? Yes they do. And wasn’t it cool when Target transformed their shopping carts into Mario karts? But the difference is, the Target and Best Buy employees aren’t trying to push you to buy those games. GameStop employees are told to do exactly that. Even if you come into the store asking about something completely unrelated, you’ll receive a “helpful” reminder to pre-order the new Call of Duty. This is because GameStop actually receives money from the publishers of these games for generating pre-orders and hype. Because, you know, Call Of Duty is a totally unknown franchise and really needs the help.
12 But, Really, Have You Heard Of Call Of Duty?
To really nail the last point home, GameStop is the only company that gets money for pushing pre-orders. But it gets worse when you realize that failure to sell those pre-orders only threatens certain people: the store employees. Because GameStop isn’t the only company that offers incentives to pre-order. Other retailers offer exclusive pre-order DLC now. Target will even give you a gift card for pre-ordering. But you never see the cashier at Target pressing you into doing it. GameStop, however, makes it a part of the employee job description. The GameStop cashiers have to meet certain pre-order quotas for the sake of their jobs. Honestly, they feel just as bad about giving you the sales pitch as you do hearing it. But they have to do it, several times a day, or they could get fired.
11 Pre-Order…Or Else
Another manipulative thing GameStop does is only order as many copies of a game as they get pre-orders. Meaning, if you don’t pre-order with them they won’t have any copies to sell you. You obviously expect that with rare collector’s editions of games. But even massive franchises like Pokémon, a series that still sells over a million copies 20 years later, is only bought in limited quantities by GameStop. The reason for this?
GameStop wants consumers to think pre-ordering is the only way to get anything.
Like I wrote before, companies give GameStop a kickback for garnering pre-orders. So it behooves them to train customers into making pre-ordering a habit. That’s also why they offer the exclusive DLC and cool swag with pre-orders. They want you to think that you’re making a smart choice yourself, even while they’re guiding you into doing it.
10 Dat Stock Box Art
This one will make collector’s cry. GameStop regularly throws out Nintendo DS and 3DS game cases. You ever notice how the DS and 3DS games are kept in a glass case in GameStop stores? That’s because the company has its employees throw out the cases to conserve space. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you realize that there is a huge community of fans who like to collect and display their games, cases intact. Or at least don’t want that ugly, generic GameStop case. Yet the stores destroy these cases without a thought, creating waste and depreciating the value of the product. It’s almost as if GameStop doesn’t really care about games, and is only concerned with profit!
9 What’s An EB Games?
EB Games used to be GameStop’s biggest competitor until it just disappeared. That’s because GameStop bought them out. Gamers outside the U.S. still have EB, but now it’s just GameStop in disguise. In fact, GameStop buys out all of its competition. Sure you can still buy games at Best Buy, but there aren’t any stores that just specialize in gaming. Which stinks if you’re looking for a rare or old game that you know a big store won’t carry. The only hope for the gamer who hates GameStop are independently-run game stores, and even those get taken out by the corporate giant. A few years ago in Europe, GameStop bought out a bunch of independent game stores to establish its foothold overseas. Our only hope now is digital downloads. Let’s just hope GameStop doesn’t buy Steam.
8 Won’t Someone Think Of The Corporations?
For the release of the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, publisher Square Enix made a deal with online distributor OnLive to include a download code for a free copy of the game inside the physical version. GameStop didn’t like this, as it was working on its own online platform at the time. So to combat this, they made employees open all new copies of the game, take out the OnLive code coupon, and trash it.
This meant that GameStop sold every new copy of Deus Ex opened.
When exposed by the press, a GameStop leader simply defended their actions by saying they didn’t want to give out a competitor’s coupon. Because GameStop’s business prospects are clearly more important than the customer. Why won’t people just sympathize with the big greedy corporation?
7 Old Dog, Old Tricks
One thing I can’t stress enough: GameStop’s profits come mostly from used game sales. Sales of new games gets GameStop next to nothing. Because of this, the employees are trained to do everything they can to get you to reserve, subscribe to their rewards program, and buy used games. That’s why we see them lie, sneak, and take advantage of children to accomplish those goals.
The worst thing is, the company sees these actions as completely fine, as long as its gets those profits and doesn’t get caught.
So GameStop will never change, because gamers will always want games and will always be willing to forget past scandals. Also, they buy out all the competition and hold rare games hostage so we kind of have to shop there.
6 Private Info Is Not A Game
GameStop’s website suffered a major hack. Think along the lines of the terrible PlayStation Network hack that happened a few years ago. Now that in and of itself isn’t scandalous. Large companies get hacked often. The thing is, the typical response to such an issue is to notify customers the moment it happens so that they can take any necessary steps to protect their accounts and sensitive information. GameStop, however, didn’t tell anyone for months. It wasn’t until long after any damage would have been done that letters were sent warning customers of the data breach. It seems GameStop preferred covering up its embarrassment over protecting its customers.
5 You Want Money For This?
We have yet to talk about the stupid guarantees GameStop sells for its games. This is something every store does, but GameStop is especially stingy in its execution of it. Should you ever decide to guarantee a purchase, prepare for torture should you need to redeem it. First, you need to have the receipt. Even if you have a Power Up Rewards account, they can’t just look it up. Secondly, the game has to be in great condition and in the original box. Which, why are you returning it then? Finally, you can only exchange it for another copy of the same game. Which might be impossible as your GameStop could have run out of that particular game and won’t be restocking. Basically, the guarantee is the exact same thing as a standard return…only you have to pay for it.
4 You Knew This Was Coming
The trade-in program is the backbone of GameStop’s business. It’s also the most reviled. Countless memes have been made about the fact that GameStop will give you $5 for a game only to turn around and sell it for $40. Unfortunately, in this case, memes come from truth. GameStop gives garbage for trades, and yet gamers continue to trade in games there. Now people will come to GameStop’s defense here. “Do you really expect to get $20 for Madden 15?” they’ll say with an eye roll. And yes, it makes sense as a business to offer little for a product you know won’t sell. Yet, GameStop will sell that same cheaply bought game for a lot more than it’s worth. Seems like a bit of a double standard.
3 Applicant Must Have 3 Years Of Relevant Experience
A question one has to ask when presented with GameStop’s history of greed is “who makes these decisions?” Well, like any company, GameStop has executives and upper management that create and enforce various policies and business strategies. So why would someone who invests in the world’s biggest gaming retailer disrespect games and gamers so often?
Here’s a fun fact: a lot of GameStop’s upper management doesn’t even play games.
Let that sink in. The decision makers for this international, industry-defining company don’t even use the product that they sell. That would explain why they make so many decisions that put profit over consumer; they can’t know what gamers want because they’ve never gamed themselves.
2 Somehow Not Illegal
“Checking in the back” is not a thing. Heck, I used to work at a GameStop, Target, and Best Buy and it wasn’t a thing in any of those stores. That’s because all of a store’s inventory is kept in the computer system these days. Even when the system is inaccurate, the employees work in the store on a daily basis. They receive every shipment. So they know quite intimately what is in the back and what isn’t. Whenever you make them go in the back, they really just go and chat with a co-worker or check their phone. Or worse. In some GameStops, the toilet and the backroom are the same thing. So unless you really want a copy of the original Mass Effect trilogy that fell in the toilet, maybe try Amazon.
1 It’s A Living
GameStop, in its profit-mindedness, is terrible about giving the appropriate amount of hours to its employees. Part-timers get about two days a week, and are lucky if those two days exceed ten hours of work. Those limited hours are also at the mercy of various quotas, so they can easily lose them if they don’t get enough pre-orders. Managers, meanwhile, are stuck picking up all of that slack and are often there for well over forty hours a week. Many times alone. Waiting for hours for a customer to come in and give them some form of human contact. You’d think they could give the eager part-timers more hours to keep them company but…you’d have to buy a few game guarantees to make that happen.
This article isn’t even true. Or is this county a really strange, fucked up county.
Video Games Help Make Lifelong Friendships
Online video games have become one of the most common places for teens to meet their peers and create lifelong friendships.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of teens ages 13-17, 72 percent of all teenagers spend free time playing video games on a computer, game console or portable device, with 36 percent reporting they have made a new friend through networked video games. Pew’s research echoes findings from the ESA’s 2015 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, which found that 54 percent of frequent video game players feel video games help them connect with friends.
These young video game players also feel a real sense of kinship with their online teammates, especially through voice connections that help them develop and improve friendships. According to Pew, playing online video games helps 78 percent of teens feel more connected to those they already know; 52 percent also report feeling closer to friends whom they only know online.
“It’s an easy way to keep up with friends,” said James Koepke, a student at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. “I have friends going to Ole Miss, UT-Arlington, and the University of Houston. It’s hard for us to meet up. We play games together online. We’ll just chat and may not even play but just talk. We use games to stay in touch.”
National video game retailer GameStop is also highlighting meaningful relationships developed through online game play. Recently, the retailer concluded #SummerAtGameStop, a five-week contest series in which players from across the country submitted personal stories about how playing online video games fostered lifelong relationships.
“Gaming is a great way to get to know someone,” said self-professed lifetime video game player Chris Wiseman, whose relationship with his fiancée developed while playing Halo 4 together. “It’s a team-building and relationship-building experience where you can really learn about the other person.”
Researchers have been observing this trend for decades, prompting the academic world to refer to the online game environment as a “third space,” outside of the home and workplace, where people from different backgrounds come together to reinforce a sense of community.
“Studies have shown that many players establish very positive and close relationships with each other,” Elizabeth Gee, associate director and professor at the Center for Games & Impact at Arizona State University, told the Dallas Morning News. “In some cases, players use online games as a way to have fun with friends and family they also see in the real world, or with other players whom they would never have the chance to meet otherwise.”