I have a seriously hard time buying "socialization in online games" as new. In fact Fortnite is a lot less like a social network than other online games, because the interactions are more sporadic and disconnected than for example a raid group in classic WoW cira 2007.
Back in the early 2000's online games were played by a faction of the population that plays them now. They were fringe, and having "online friends" was consitered to be weird and strange by most (I heard this plenty as my 2 closest friends I only met in person for the first time at my wedding in 2014! After having known them for almost 10 years at the point, and I heard plenty from even family about how it was "a bit weird").
That feeling has changed over the last few years, and now "online friends" are just friends, and the games themselves are actually almost the secondary reason many people play them. The primary being to hang out with their friends online.
Not saying this can’t be happening through forums, but I’d say it’s less likely and slower.
Like others said, voice chat also makes the connection much faster. Get on Ventrilo (RIP), party chat, or discord!
It's now my digital watercooler (I'm the only dev at work), interestingly many of the other regulars are sole devs or small company devs where they are the lead dev.
Now that I'm older, that barely happens. Online or offline, even while I do meet new people and some friendship forms on some level, a certain distance remains and things often stay confided to a particular function (lunch group at work, people in an online group).
I first tried to fight it, but now I suspect that I'm just more interested in furthering the relationships that I already have, instead of making room for new ones.
That seems kind of essential for younger-esque 'Hey, stranger who I know nothing about? Want to spend a lot of time together?'
It is much easier to have friendship when everyone have the same goal.
I made some friends online as early as the 90s, in IRC for example. Some of them are such good friends, we still talk to each other every day. But I personally never remember anyone, neither family nor any of the friends that I did not meet online, giving the impression that they find this "strange" or "weird". And the majority of my friends I did not meet online. Few of them are much into computers, or active online, so I don't think there's some kind of bias.
Even when we directly talk about it, e.g. "How did you meet X?" - "Met him online", I don't recall any surprise or judgement. Come to think of it, it's not really very different from "met in a classic car club".
Having met my fiancée online, for contrast, is a bit different. Probably because it does not leave much room for a meet-cute story, and is a rather intentional thing (two people seeking a relationship) instead of a beautiful coincidence. I don't think people care very much about the "origin story" for friends on the other hand, unless it stands out on its own.
I grew up in Germany, if that matters for context.
It used to imply a decision to spend time interacting through a screen (either in real-time or over email or usenet) rather than socializing in physical space. The people who made that decision, consciously or unconsciously, for whatever reasons, were a self-selected group, and a significant fraction of them would not have identified as mainstream or neurotypical. To judgemental people in the mainstream, that equals weird and strange.
I have had a lot of online friends. I do not think of myself as part of some self-selected group. I'm medically handicapped and I was a military wife. For those and other reasons, I happened to spend a lot of time online and it's become a habit. The internet has been very life enhancing for me.
If I were hail and hardy and had not ended up socially isolated for various reasons, I doubt I would choose to spend so much time online. But I made the best of the hand dealt me and this is where I ended up.
From some perspective, that's probably true of a lot of internet devotees. If you are, for example, not neurotypical, the internet may work better than face-to-face interactions.
I also think it's not all that nice to tell a relative their interests are "weird." I kind of feel like someone who would do that probably would come up with excuses to be othering no matter the details of your life.
I have friends that I definitely would call “mainstream”, and some of them you might call judgmental. However, their perception would rather apply to the person, how they present themselves and behave, rather than to how I originally met that person. That factor is bound to be just a passing interest (“How’d you met by the way? Ah.”). If at all, because come to think of it, you already have to have formed some opinion, or somewhat care, about said friend to go as far as asking such a question.
Ask yourself whether you’ve ever wondered with more than just fleeting, and therefore inconsequential, interest about how your friends have met their friends, the ones that you don’t have any strong feelings about yourself.
Which, again, also seems to be a bit of a different story with the people you’re dating.
You haven't exactly made it clear what kind of relationships you are talking about, but it sounds like you might be thinking of predominantly IRL relationships that just happen to have started online. That is a totally different ballgame.
It had profiles a la MySpace sorta with stickers, music players made, and even a comments section. Groups were similar. Recently they have been ditching their old web pages for profiles and groups in favor of focusing more on the general game client.
You would add friends, message them, instant message with them. Throw parties or create in-game invented games to play. People were literally social, to the point of e-dating and other things. People went to jail over Habbo Hotel. I have an online friend who was arrested in England and questioned for allegedly doing a DDoS attack on Habbo Hotel.
Then theres VMK and Club Penguin. Those were more social based games. I can also see Neopets and Gaia Online considered as such.
You're using the peak from the graph which omits the first 11 years of WoW (graph starts at 2015, WoW launched in 2004), the description to the right of the graph states the peak was 12 million in 2010 (though of course that's still far less than Fortnite's)
But that’s just one example. :%s/Fortnite/wildly-popular game with party chat/g
That's an interesting thought, something that's crossed my own mind before. Are the numbers there to suggest scheduled TV programming is declining, or do the shows that get best ratings and reviews and pop culture buzz these days just happen to be shows on streaming platforms/alternative media?
I actually don't have the answer, I'm just probing the thought, so to speak.
A friend and I used to watch movies together over Skype by counting down before pressing play. It worked very well, but only for local files; on a streaming platform, the slight delay between pressing play and the video starting ruined it. Get (close to) perfect sync was important, as otherwise, one of us would react to moments slightly before the other. Pausing in the middle, etc was also annoying.
P.S. Even watching events which are live, but streamed over the internet via HLS doesn't work well. We've tried it for e.g. Apple keynotes, and the variable delay of HLS ruins the experience.
An app that brings the awful theater experience home to your Netflix would be peak Silicon Valley.
Partial solution to this problem for me was to go to movies early in the week, as early in the day as possible-though I realize it's not a solution for everyone, I'm a remote worker with a lot of schedule autonomy.
I love the onDemand nature of streaming services, but am still a dork for the big screen "event" feeling of catching a movie fresh after release. Just...as you said, minus the talkers.
After Blizzard releases WoW Classic this summer, I already know what will 2019's most important social network be :-)
Check the player count of fortnite from November...
WoW peaked at 12 million during Wrath of the Lich King.
The statistic i checked started after Warlords of Draenor, however... and i didn't notice that
The sheer volume of articles written about Pokemon Go and the future of AR in 2016 was mind-boggling, especially as the popularity of the game peaked in less than a year.
Minecraft is still very popular among certain age groups. Some age out as others age into it.
Over the past year, I've been semi-consistently playing weekly fortnite sessions with three old friends, and it's been great. It's something we all do and laugh at while we're on a group phone call together, and it's good for an hour of relaxing and talking on a Sunday night.
The fact of it being free is important because none of us play outside of these gatherings (making the large-download updates problematic when they show up.)
Fortnite I've only played with my son, for an hour or two a week. Sometimes a friend or two of his will join us but usually its just the two of us. Its been pretty cool to share this, but I'm a little skeptical that overall its really representing something new. Yes, maybe its more mainstream, but it is also much more limited than other environments, because you can only have four people in your party. What if your buddy group is five or six? There is really no practical way to play together.
Fortnite is super popular among humans.
Humans are very social animals.
Fortnite sees a ton of social activity.
This is a big part of why Minecraft was worth buying for 2.5B. Minecraft provides an endless wilderness to explore, modify and hangout. Particularly powerful with kids since that's something they're no longer allowed in the real world.
The big advantage of game-based social networks is that they have a purpose which means they have a constructive goal which is shared among the players, plus they have rules for how to win.
I would rather that my kids spend time in Fortnite than on Facebook.
If streaming starts to lose popularity, fortnite will too.
I can see Fortnite having a multi year run, but gaming is a completely different medium to a traditional 'social network'. Maybe this says something critical about social networks, mainly the fact that a successful social network must be oriented around passive consumption rather that active participation.
I'm sure folks watch Fortnite videos online and live streams, but I get the sense that a large number of folks have spent more time playing that watching. You cant really say that for most other social networks, especially when you remove 'power' users such as influencers and brand accounts.
My bigger point is regarding the nature of a gaming platform vs. a more traditional feed based app as effective social networks (when it comes to lasting power and monetary ability mainly), even the best video games have a flash in the pan nature that makes it difficult to see the MAU increase in a way we've seen with feed based networks.
That said I feel like most game based social networks seem more transitory than the purely “social” networks. Not out of any inherent inferiority but more just as a product of the general nature of games
I find that gaming serving as a social space is not a new concept in any capacity.
Games that attract nearly everyone, even in just some age groups, to one social space are rare.
You won't be joining say...an "EVE Online" discord unless you have bought the game and want to play it. Fortnite is as free as Facebook and is at critical mass for many groups. It ends up becoming the lingua franca of gaming socialization.
Discord is definitely not even a space dedicated to games either (I don't think your EVE example holds up), it's just where people gather to play games and end up using it for everything else too. Everything you've mentioned still definitely applies to a Discord account, free like free beer and the envy of so many other chat platforms.