“Parallel play is a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another’s behavior. Children usually play alone during parallel play but are interested in what other children are doing. This usually occurs after the first birthday. It usually involves two or more children in the same room who are interested in the same toy, each seeing the toy as their own. The children do not play together, but alongside each other simply because they are in the same room. […] The image of parallel play is two children playing side by side in a sandbox, each absorbed in his or her game, not interacting with the other.”
The idea is that it’s typically something that small kids do on their own – or are directed to do by educators – before they’re capable of coordinating their play. But I can’t help but see the adult version as being “alone together” play in online games. Unlike the tiny tots in the psychological scenario, MMO gamers are capable of coordinated and cooperative play – but they don’t always want to engage in it. And we’re far from the only people to wonder about this; there was even a study in 2013 that found that parallel competition in video games “resulted in both high enjoyment and future play motivation and high physical intensity” compared to other types of play.
Do you engage in “parallel play” in MMORPGs?