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How Important is Community for the Next Generation?
In our internet age being connected to each other is no problem. Social Media could be used as a definition for our generation, something we’re all connected to. It not hard to find each other, and can easily create communities with people from across the world. Of course this connectivity has made its way into video games.
But how important is a gaming community? If I look at the gaming communities I’d consider myself a part of, they are communities that are built around specific games I like to play. My lines are not drawn by which next generation console I’m going to purchase.
In some games, like MMOs, I think being a part of a community can be extremely important. The whole point of these games is to play with other people, and many parts of the game can’t be done alone. It’s convenient and more fun to have a group of players you can call on. Not only is it a time saver, but as you build a community around some kind of in game clan or guild, you know the other members skills, and what they can assist you in.
The same can be said for any online game, really. Outside of the MMO world games might not have the built in community options that every major MMO seems to have these days, but players take the building of these communities into their own hands. It’s not rare to see large groups of some kind of clan jumping onto any popular FPS game.
But I can understand how the gaming community has gone even further, creating communities around games that aren’t even playable online. It doesn’t matter if players are never going to see each other in-game; they still want to be a part of a community. Wikis and forums give players the opportunity to enhance their gameplay in so many ways. Sharing knowledge, giving hints, trading mods, and even bragging about in-game accomplishments can make a game have that much more meaning.
So how important is the gaming community? I think it’s obvious: very. Look at how many forums and wikis, subreddits, and Facebook pages are built around specific games. But how strong are the communities that are built up along console war lines?
All three next generation consoles are promoting the community aspects of their consoles. The PS4 looks like it’s going to have some kind of Facebook page like interface. The Xbox One will allows players to hook up separate online communities, like Fantasy Sports, onto their console. Even Steam is constantly trying to build up a Steam community, promoting players to create a Steam profile and gain Steam experience as opposed to just joining individual game’s communities.
I don’t see the point in this type of community. Next generation consoles don’t need to focus this much on my gaming profile page. If I look at the people I play online games with I can clearly see how we ended up playing together. Most often we know each other in real life and in this case we wouldn’t need to use any kind of online community. I also play with people that I’ve met within the individual game’s communities, and most of the time I wouldn’t want to play any other game together unless we ended up becoming surprisingly compatible players. Finally, there’s the people I meet in game, and the only thing we’re ever going to do together is play that single title.
It just seems like a waste of time to create this large and in-depth community that I don’t believe is going to be that useful. Will most players actively search to make online friends amongst the entire population of PS4 or Xbox One users? That sounds better than being “recommended” friends based on titles we both play.
None of these specific game communities require some kind of online community built up and promoted by my console manufacturer. Maybe some gamers want this type of community, but I could really care less. My friends list on Steam and Xbox Live are filled with my friends, and I don’t need to look at their next generation gamer profile to see what they’ve been up to. I can ask them. If I want to meet new players I can join that game’s community. But having a community drawn around the console, instead of the game, seems completely unnecessary, and in the grand scheme of things unimportant.