Continued from here:
An entire book could be written about gaming communities and the effects they have on human interpersonal interactions. Overall, I think Tom Chatfield hits the nail on the head in his comment about how we need to look at the general effect that ANY group has on the human psyche and the implications of that group/community on the individual involved.
On a large scale, community-driven engagement in the digital realm has essentially turned normal human conversation and perception on its axis. Human conversation has been altered in obvious ways. The internet blossomed, and with that came less personal interaction, and more in the digital space. Today, it’s gotten to the point where a lot of companies are opting to install social platforms for workflow within their corporate structures (Jive, Yammer, etc.). This has obvious advantages, such as creating a searchable index of all internal conversation for quick and easy review, but the disadvantages include less personal interaction.
I work at a company with 80 people. We use Jive for workflow and indexing, and it works quite well. At the same time, out of 80 people, I’ve probably PERSONALLY worked face-to-face with only 20 or so. That is a 100% shift from previous generations, whose only line of efficient communication came through personal interaction. Before social platforms and the digital revolution, you didn’t post a job-related article/material on a social site for the client to review, you PRESENTED the item to them. This is only one small case, but sheds a huge light on the darkness that social platforms have created in the realm of actual personal interaction today.
Perception is a whole different monster. Social media and mass-online marketing have changed the way businesses, communities and other outlying entities alter perception. Due to online interaction, perception can change quickly and often and often times created a huge polarity between the topics at hand. Apple vs Android is a great example. Would there be Apple fan boys and Android fan boys without the inclusion of social interactions on a mass scale? Yes, probably, but the polarity between the two was created, widened and lives, in the online testimonials and forum trolling of its users. Is only system better than the other? Don’t they both do similar things in a way that we could not have imagined 15 years ago? Perception that was forged in online socially-connected communities is what fuels the divide.
So, how does this relate to gaming? To me, social gaming communities are the savior of this story, and are excelling at integrating classic personal interaction, with new-age digital communication. What mass social networks lack in actually creating organic personal relationships, gaming communities make up for. I understand that not everyone is into gaming, and that’s okay. I actually believe new-age gaming communities are setting the stage for a second digital revolution that reintegrates the old with the new. In doing so, we could create a digital world that inspires personal interactions that feel authentic, rather than counterfeit.
Also, they are controlling negative perceptions by creating communities where gamers feel safe to like games that are considered “noobish” and also are attempting to alter the view handed down to gamer that we are all disrespectful teenagers.
My personal story begins 10 years ago at the conception of online console gaming. Just a young chap at 13, I ventured into the world of SOCOM: US Navy SEALS. At the time, online gaming was new to console players, and it was exciting. It was a great time to build relationships, because not only did the game inspire teamwork, but it also came with a headset. Excluding embarking into the PC world and spending tons of money to play, headsets were new and revolutionary to the world of console gamers. Everyone wanted to not only have them, but they wanted to USE them too.
The community that grew as a result was a great one. Millions of players fell in love with the franchise and that community remains small, but strong today. Being a part of this community creates a feeling that you are “brothers in arms”, protecting the legacy of a now oft-forgotten piece of your life, is an immense one. Communities don’t always have to get along, they often fight like cats and dogs, but another small unit of people has similar qualities. Family.
I can honestly say that the now-archaic community surrounding SOCOM is a small part of me, and in saying that, can be best describe as being my “brothers and sisters”.
Later, I met Justin Bastian and the boys from The Division IGR. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I enjoyed gaming, and had been a part of clans before, but not like this one. These guys were/are serious. This community had rules and standards in place that I had never seen or fathomed in the online gaming universe before. My previous experiences in entering a clan was as easy as having a few tryout games with the guys and then joining up. I realized later that I was misunderstanding what The Division IGR was altogether. These guys weren’t a clan, they were a community.
Everyone was so accepting, but at the same time, I was just a recruit. I didn’t “have my uniform” and I was still in the awkward “new guy” phase for a while. Over time, I realized just how different this experience had been compared to any other in the gaming or online world. I was creating relationships and friendships that I felt were valuable to my life, not just for entertainment value or to fill some false void in my life. The Division IGR changed all of that for me. It changed the way I look at online interactions, and it has already created lifelong memories and relationships.
I have always found online communities to be intimidating, monstrous places, but not The Division. No, those guys are my family.
All gut-wrenching commentary aside, I have rambled enough, and I hope you find some of my points enlightening. At that, I will leave you all with one of my favorite quotes. It just so happens that it was a marketing campaign, but the words relate to how we cannot be afraid to try crazy things, and we cannot be afraid of failure, or how we will be perceived. Once we shed all those fears, that’s when we will change the world.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. – Apple, Inc.”