Our world is full of conflict and it seems as though human nature always draws people to opposing sides. Television news channels report the worst events making it easy to believe that common decency has ceased to exist. In many of the human race’s most appalling conflicts, the disputes of today have had their roots in history. Each generation has carried on the ill feeling of their predecessors, some with good reason, but some unfounded.
Mutual Ground or Neutral Ground
Quite often, a claim on territory has been quoted as the reason for fighting. Israel has been in various states of war with its neighbours since its creation by the United Nations. Our history is full with stories about the acquisition of land and resources by superior forces. Despite all of this, not all of our worst historical moments are void of the better side of human nature. In the First World War, the German and British infantry called a truce at Christmas time. There were reports of troops from both sides playing games of football in ‘no man’s land’ in between the trenches. This is a great example of how the people who are on opposing sides have found something that connects them at a human level. It is true that people like people who are like themselves. When we recognise our own characteristics in our enemies, they seem less of a threat. When they like the same things as us, we connect on that level.
Online Gaming with Make Believe Enemies
Anyone who has played online will tell you they have no idea where their teammates or opponents are situated. They could be in Birmingham UK, or Birmingham Alabama and it would make no difference. Traditional prejudices that separate people with different colour skin, religious beliefs or indeed, claims on territory, are no longer an issue. The online gaming environment takes away the bad side of human nature and leaves only the common ground. People can exist with a mutual interest and work together to achieve the same goal. Members of a team playing Call of Duty online, have no interest in knowing where the other members of the team live. Occasionally, it is obvious where people are from, what they believe or what they support because their screen name will relate the message. The difference in online gaming and real life is that nobody really cares online.
Communists or Democrats, Everyone Bites the Dust
Staying with the Call of Duty theme, the national armies featured in the game are often from sides that have had real conflict. Russia and the U.S. have never been at war with each other, but the cold war was the worlds’ greatest ever Mexican-standoff. Each nation had their weapons pointed at each other for decades. The thought of a player from U.S., acting as a Russian soldier at the height of the cold war or vice versa, would have been unimaginable. The fact that a side is chosen for the players at random when they play online, means there will be a mixture of people on both sides. Most importantly, there is no complaint from the players.
Acceptance is Not Just for Children
When considering what you have just read, it is easy to think I was referring to young people who have not yet developed prejudice towards others, which is not the case. Anyone who has experienced online gaming will understand that where people come from, is that last thing on your mind. This is also true for people who you are playing against and not just the people on your own team. If you have ever played poker online, you will understand that it is not a team game. Some poker sites will show you where your opponents are from, but that does not stop you playing the game. I like to see where my opponents are, because I believe there could be an advantage playing someone when it is five in the morning in their country. Nine times out of every ten, I still lose despite playing without tiredness or fatigue to slow me. The point is that online gaming is the perfect leveller, where people from all cultures can congregate and enjoy each other’s company.
Online Gaming and International Relations
Online gaming is unlikely to unite the world and have everyone living in harmony, but it does help us realise we are more alike than we had been led to believe. There are more people gaming online at any one time than there are fighting in the world. That alone says a lot about how much online gaming is breaking down previously erected borders, at least in the psychological sense.