Co-playing with Friends and Social Capital: A Comparative Analysis of Two Dota 2 Communities
Co-playing, or playing video games together, is a social practice that enriches relationships and game experience by providing the players with informational and social support. This study explores how co-playing integrates into friendship in two small (6–7 people), male communities of adolescent and adult friends. Both communities are local and school-based; both focus on co-playing Dota 2. The study focuses on the leadership in these small networks, compares their co-playing patterns, and the ways in which co-playing affects the relationships in both communities, enhancing their bonding social capital. We apply network analysis and personal interviews to compare and contrast how the co-playing communities emerged, are maintained and evolve along with the friendship. The main conclusion is that such co-playing communities emerge around a single Dota 2 enthusiast in the early secondary school as a common pastime, but co-playing video games increases bonding social capital among the community members. Network analysis demonstrates the differences in leadership in the teen and adult communities. The research shows how video games are embedded in collective everyday friendship and how co-playing communities function in support of such a relationship. The findings could be further tested against female and mixed co-playing communities.