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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 January, 2004, 08:38 GMT
Getting sociable with gaming
Daniel Etherington of BBCi Collective thinks games like Sony's EyeToy offers a more sociable form of gaming fun.

It may be a cliché, but gaming has often involved a bloke committing himself to its pleasures while his girlfriend sighs in the background and derides the activity as anti-social.

Screenshot of EyeToy
Gaming can be a more sociable experience
Thankfully, this set-up can be knocked aside completely these days.

The Christmas season is very much a time for good old-fashioned socialising, involving actually physically being with people and sharing a drink or six.

So where can gaming fit into this?

Playful parties

Well, at the suggestion of my girlfriend no less, we introduced EyeToy to the New Year's mix.

And it was a resounding success.

When I was a kid, we always used to play games like sardines on New Year's night.

For every ostensibly grown-up New Year's party experienced in later life, I had always pined after such play.

In many ways, EyeToy satisfied the craving this year.

Screenshot of EyeToy Groove
With EyeToy, which simply does not incur the usual vitriol of those who have a blanket negativity about gaming or the ever-increasing online multiplayer opportunities, the emphasis of much video gaming is becoming increasingly social

Sony's hit innovation, which has been in the games sales charts since its original release in July, reaching over two million in UK sales by early December, really did fit right in to the requirements of the season, notably socialising and silliness.

Gaming is increasingly confounding the long-held criticism that it is anti-social.

Personally - despite a love of good ale - I hate an evening of passive smoking, so pubs are not always a 100% appealing.

However, online gaming sessions can in some ways fulfil similar requirements to a jaunt to the local for me. I can have a few beers and I can socialise, without the smoke.

Have to be there?

Some maintain that without the physical proximity of friends, this just is not proper socialising.

I do not buy that, and nor does the dictionary definition of "sociable".

It is just a different, new(ish) form of interaction. If you do need to be in the same room to feel you are fulfilling the correct criteria of socialisation, playing ostensibly one-player games - Silent Hill, Medal Of Honor or Prince Of Persia say - with a mate is just dandy.

A few beers, swapping turns at every death or save point, giving each other tips, is a very pleasant social activity.

And of course, racing, fighting and other such traditionally multi-player games have long involved mates crowding round the TV.

But with EyeToy (which simply does not incur the usual vitriol of those who have a blanket negativity about gaming), or the ever-increasing online multiplayer opportunities, the emphasis of much videogaming is becoming increasingly social.

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