Steinkuehler and Williams have been studying video games as "third places" — locations where people regularly socialize outside of the home and office.  They’ve found that massively multiplayer online video games (or MMO’s), where people create their own digital characters, have begun to function as "third places" for many youngsters. 

While these social connections don’t provide deep or lasting friendships, they do function as way to expose players to a variety of world views and broaden their social horizons.  This research is published in The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

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