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Nov 08, 2013

Poker Survey Reflects Digital Migration: Face-to-Face Gaming Gives Way to Online

By RTR Dennis

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Here at RakeTheRake we conducted a survey of our users’ poker and general video gaming habits. Although, as you’d expect, while all our members spent varying amounts of time playing poker online, much fewer spent time playing the game in person. With 26.6% of those surveyed saying they never play poker in person and 49.9% saying they played in person for five hours or less a week, does this mean that the practice of gaming – and indeed socialising – face to face is dying out?

Since the advent of the internet, spending too much time online has been a constant concern, especially among parents. With even more ways to browse, chat and game online than ever before, it’s perhaps understandable that some might find it a concern.

However, for all its naysayers, the internet also brings people together, allowing them to work and play socially regardless of geographic location. Without the internet, many relationships would become much more difficult to maintain, while some never would have begun at all.

There are arguments both for and against this generation’s extensive internet use. A Psychology Today article noted that the current generation spends more time at the screen (at least eight hours on average) than sleeping, with increased web use allegedly linked with depression, the deterioration of real-life relationships and loneliness. Actual face-to-face interaction has been proven by studies to provide comfort and improve mental wellbeing, but is, as UCSB journalist Melissa Nilles observed, technological detachment really an inexorable part of today’s reality?

As well as the wider web, this increasing focus on the online world might also be bad news for poker players (or at least their pockets), with IT expert and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Nicholas Carr saying that the internet “leads to behaviour that people are conscious is not in their best interest”, leaving people anxious and making them act compulsively. The risk of compulsive gambling is one of the key reasons why it’s a good idea to set yourself a budget when playing online poker, and with 18.2% of those surveyed claiming to spend £400 or more a month on the hobby and a significant 10.2% saying they spend over £1,000, it’s definitely something to bear in mind.

However, playing online is also convenient. In the case of poker, for example, think how much easier it is to connect to an online game in a few moments than trying to gather a group of busy people in one place at a particular time before physically setting up and playing a game in person. However, despite the relative ease of playing poker online, only 26.6% of those we asked said they didn’t ever play poker in person, suggesting there’s still something to be said for actually sitting round a table and playing cards together every now and then.

It’s not just poker that’s slowly finding itself moved online, either. Tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs) such as Dungeons & Dragons have found life time and time again online in the form of console and computer-based RPGs and MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), and with games like World of Warcraft having boasted as many as 12 million subscribers worldwide in October 2010, this trend can hardly be dismissed as insignificant. Indeed, today even family board games such as Scrabble can played online in various formats.

However, can online play and socialising truly be considered, as some do, a negative thing?

For all its critics, the internet allows countless people to easily stay in touch with each other regardless of distance, and even when gaming. While letters may be in decline, emails, instant messaging and online voice and video calls continue to thrive, with around 3 million Facebook messages sent every 20 minutes. While computers used to be blamed for causing isolation, now they enable people to more easily begin and maintain friendships, regardless of physical distance. Additionally, even the most die-hard online gamers call it quits at some point: World of Warcraft lost 600,000 subscribers at the beginning of this year, leading to Activision and other online games companies having to look for incentives to keep their players and even in some cases ditching subscription in favour for free-to-play.

While socialising online certainly can’t completely replace doing so face-to-face (indeed, studies suggest the extensive use of social media can damage children’s development), the convenience of the internet and the ease of communication it allows means that online play is here to stay. However, make sure to take a break every once in a while – all things in moderation.

So should you stop playing online poker altogether? Well, we’d definitely be sad if you did! That aside, playing poker online is an entirely different experience to playing in person, which is an option that isn’t always available to everyone. With the convenience of being able to start – and stop – pretty much whenever you want, the ability to play more games for less and the availability of exclusive rakeback offers and promotions, it definitely has its advantages. You may even find yourself at an advantage if you’re known for your overly obvious tells when playing in person.

Want to find out more? Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for all the latest poker and rakeback news. Additionally, if you’re curious about how your fellow poker players feel about the future of face-to-face gaming, why not take part in our forum poll? Do you think that face-to-face gaming will have all but died out by 2050? Have your say!

Oh, and who did our survey reveal as being the guiltiest of using social media to brag about their exploits after the games are over? It’s a close-run thing, but only 29.1% women felt the need to use the internet to tell the world about their triumphs, with a slightly larger 32.3% of men admitting to doing the same.