Promoting positive social interactions is at the heart of our project. In this article, we will detail why we care about this, and how we hope to positively influence the interactions within our games!
During the first lockdown, we decided to do everything we could to work full-time on VirtualSociety and build the game we dreamed of. In this difficult period, renewing the social link strongly affected by the health situation was one of our main motivations.
The social dimension is central to the experience we propose. Loneliness is a real problem in society today, with almost one in two people in the world feeling lonely 1; with a public health impact greater than obesity2.
Sadly, social networks don't address this, and often accentuate the problem by not creating real interactions, and by promoting rewarding reactions through the race to likes to keep users on their platform.
This negative effect is not a coincidence. Social platforms aim to keep their users on their platform in order to maximize advertising revenues, and not to create social connection.
However, video games can improve social connections3. Furthermore, one of the main interesting thing to note is that interactions in video games influence the players' behavior in real life. So, designing social interactions well, and encouraging real and positive exchanges can help improve the social lives of our players. The work of designing and thinking about the precise architecture of social interactions in the game is thus crucial.
For example, Disney's Toontown Online was designed to restrict actions to positive interactions, and many players reported changing the way they played all games as a result of their experience in Toontown. The initially constrained, positive-only actions thus permanently influenced how they interacted with others in social games, with new positive social dynamics.
Moreover, loneliness is often a vicious circle, where the lack of social interactions can produce a feeling of distrust towards others, reinforcing the feeling of loneliness. 6. Thus, promoting positive interactions within a caring community in a video game can help break this vicious circle to recreate social connection, including in the real world!
Our goal is to create a safe space, in which exchanges are positive and benevolent, and can have a positive impact on the well-being and social life of our players. To do so, many points of the game design are thought in this sense.
We hope to have explained our position on social contact and our ethical goals here. We will be doing another article soon on our ethical commitments, to detail other aspects outside of social contact.
If you want to know more, feel free to read the sources below!
1 Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index, 2018
Loneliness. Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, 2008
2 Social Relationships and Health: The Toxic Effects of Perceived Social Isolation,
2014 A Longitudinal Analysis of Loneliness Among Older People in Great Britain, 2012
3 The Art of Game Design, Jesse Schell
4 A Longitudinal Analysis of Loneliness Among Older People in Great Britain, 2012
5 Alone in the crowd: The structure and spread of loneliness in a large social network.
Cacioppo, J. T., Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2009). Alone in the crowd: The structure and spread of loneliness in a large social network. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(6), 977–991.
6 Video about loneliness - Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
Written by Nicolas Gauville on 01/25/2023
Co-founder of VirtualSociety - PhD in Computer Science
Super article, enrichissant et qui mine de rien nous permet d'en apprendre un peu plus de ce que VirtualSociety va être :). Un projet grandiose qui met en valeur les interactions sociales et la bienveillance.
8 months ago