From online strangers to offline friends: a qualitative study of video game players in Hong Kong

Gina Lai*, Ka Yi Fung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This exploratory study adopts a dynamic approach to the understanding of video-gaming and social relationships. It examines the development of friendship ties initiated by video-gaming over a 10-year period of time. Based on qualitative data from 22 Nintendo DS players in Hong Kong, we find that the game play platform functions as a social media platform enabling individuals to make new friends. Four stages of friendship tie development are identified, from total strangers, online acquaintances, online friends, to offline friends. While the digital technology overcomes the structural constraints for relationship building and fosters perceived trust and intimacy among people, face-to-face interactions are important for authenticating these perceptions and sustaining the relationships. Our study also underscores the interconnection of the game world, virtual world, and physical world. Directions for future research are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-501
Number of pages19
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • offline friends
  • online forums
  • online friends
  • social networks
  • video games
  • virtual community


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