Abstract This study examines the impact of collective MMORPG play on gamers’ social capital in both the virtual world and the real world. Collective MMORPG play is conceptualized as the frequency of joint gaming actions and gamers’ assessment of the experience in MMORPG guilds and groups. Social capital at the individual level refers to the resources and support provided by bonding and bridging social networks; collective-level social capital refers to people’s civic engagement. A two-wave online survey was conducted to collect data from 232 Chinese MMORPG players. Two structural equation models were developed to test whether collective play influences offline social capital via the mediation of online social capital; the results did not demonstrate the existence of mediation effects. Specifically, collective play positively influences gamers’ online bonding social capital, online bridging social capital and online civic engagement. The effect of collective play on offline bonding and bridging social capital is not significant; the effect of online bonding/bridging social capital on offline bonding/bridging social capital is not significant either. The study finds a significantly positive impact of collective play on offline civic engagement. The effect of online civic engagement on offline civic engagement is not significant. In contrast with collective play, the time of gaming is found to negatively influence online and offline social capital. This study contributes to the knowledge of social capital because it tests the effects of new media on online and offline social capital in the Chinese culture. In addition, this study provides empirical evidence for the positive effects of online games and highlights the social experience in MMORPG play and how it influences gamers’ social networks and collective participation.