|The community that plays together stays together.|
A solid community is essential for a society to function. If the community is strong, the society thrives. If the community grows weak, then the society will fall to the poison of those who betray their own.
Along the lines of Hawkens' remark here, it is my firm opinion that regardless of how fancy or advanced an MMO is, the community can ultimately make it or break it. Really it is one of the best parts of online gaming. No matter how clever or engrossing the game is, it is all the social interactions that really make the setting.
Despite whatever prior gaming experiences one might have there is always a first time for every new game we attempt. We all have to learn and grow as we take our first infant steps in our world. It is only natural to reach to those around you with greater wisdom then yourself. To seek those with more experience and use their words to adapt and to flourish. This is the community's greatest and most powerful time to shine. By bringing a positive experience to new blood you greatly encourage them to not only just enjoy the game more, but to stay. From investing into friends, future random dungeon runners, and roleplaying partners, it becomes a future investment into the life of the game. When a game community thrives, so does the new content from devs. A good community rewards all.
Even after a player has left the realm of n00b and joined the realm of experienced players, community is still critical. MMOs are HUGE and contain so much content. PVE, PVP, roleplaying, rare spawn hunting, crafting, raiding, exploring...there are really so many aspects that is it difficult to be an expert in all of them simultaneously. A roleplayer might enjoy the hard work of a theorycrafter, allowing them to compare already tried and true builds to apply to their character. Or perhaps a staunch PVE player wants to learn more about PVP. By working together and sharing their advice and experiences, veteran players can continue to cement the positivity of the community around them for the benefit of all.
On the complete opposite, a rude, mocking and intolerant community can ruin gaming experiences for everyone involved. They don't just hurt the people they target, they poison the community as a whole; slowly seeding a vile atmosphere that is difficult to recover from. Repeated offenses can even cause people to remove themselves from the community entirely, turning off general chat channels or other communication channels.
For example, when I first joined World of Warcraft during the Burning Crusade expansion I was so excited to meet this amazing concept of hundreds or even thousands of people all interacting together. Although I won't say that the community was perfect by any means, I found this first experience for myself mostly pleasant. Even the infamous “Barrens chat” was amusing. (I'm not saying I had terribly refined tastes for humor at the time and one could only take so many Chuck Norris jokes).
|I always wanted to buy this t-shirt (image found here)|
But what was the most important was the mostly civil interactions between other people. When I asked questions into general chat, I was usually answered, even if they were terribly naïve and foolish.
Today, however, I have found WoW to have one of the worst communities. After returning from a year away to try out the Mists of Pandaria expansion, I found myself beset by many new features I had not seen before. I figured that a quick question over general might save me a couple of minutes trying to hunt down the system online. I was wrong. Immediately mocked by some or yelled at to search online by others, I instantaneously regretted asking. Oh and it only got better. When I walked into the brand new dungeons for the first time, I found that the in-game dungeon manual was really not that much help. So I figured I might as well ask my group for just a quick hint on anything they thought was important to know. Dead silence. Nothing. In the dozens of dungeons that I have attempted asking questions of my teammates I have received no answers. Even after I learned the fights through trial by fire, I still tried asking to see what would happen. It's quite depressing really. Dungeons used to take teamwork and skill and people used to at least say hi to each other, or thank you at the end. Now that is the exception to the rule. Most dungeons are run in pure silence as though the other bodies with you are only barely tolerated nuisances that you must deal with in order to progress.
Now on the other end, my experience with The Secret World was much different. Though the game itself is no where near the extreme polish of WoW, the community is far better. When first starting out, I found the combat systems and questing systems to be almost overwhelmingly different from previous gaming experiences. This time though, when I asked in the general chat for help understanding the game, I was overwhelmed by the responses. People were actually HELPFUL. Overall I saw more positive and helpful communications then most anywhere else. It was very refreshing!
My experiences with SWToR fell somewhere in between. In the initial months of the game, the community was very enthusiastic and very helpful. Once the drastic server mergers began, the community began a steady decline. At this point in time I have found most people engaged in general chat to be as rude, obnoxious and unhelpful as WoW. However, within guilds and at least the roleplaying circles I was a part of, the feeling was the complete opposite. They were still loyal and helpful to one another.
Then I found WildStar.
Lured in by the exciting faction videos, I felt a lot of enthusiasm for this upcoming game. Here was a very promising looking MMO that I could really get into and I just had to share this excitement with others! The very first thing I did was to make this blog. I jotted down all my ideas, got an introduction up and set up the visual style of my brain child and got ready to share. Though when it came time to join in with the community, I balked. Would it be worth it? Would the hype be the only thing keeping people civil towards each other or would I actually find good people here? Would they except me or would I just be lost amongst the other new enthusiasts and largely ignored? I admit it took a lot of courage for me to step in and give it a shot.
And it was so worth it!
The very first sign I had was when Jeremy Gaffney was the first response on my blog. (You can check it out here) I mean wow! I was stunned! A WildStar dev actually took the time to read my words and leave me a comment!? As I was busy wrapping my mind around this concept, Gaffney went on to ask a question directly to the roleplaying community on the subreddit thread I had created to showcase my blog. From there I was fortunate to find some of the excellent folk from WildStar-roleplay.com. Though I was still nervous, I forced myself to join up and start talking to them. I have not once regretted it. The community here is amazing. There are so many people from all over, all happily sharing in their love of WildStar and using it as a way to meet and make new friends. Everyone is friendly and helpful. The chatbox is always fun to watch, and the creative genius is fairly bursting from our forums! People take the time to reach each others introductions and character sheets. They even leave behind positive remarks and if there is ever any criticism, it is always constructive and polite. This is echoed further still on WildStar Central and even other blogs and podcast sites such as Settler in Exile and Nexus Weekly.
Simply put, I have never met a better community. I entered in tentative and nervous and was welcomed with open arms. My blog has received so many positive comments from the community there and has spurned some excellent discussion. Their acceptance and interest in my favorite character of all time, Agent Hawkens, has been utterly flattering and a complete blast. No where else can I joke about an imaginary warplot of vending machine bosses with a dev and fellow fans and then turn around and joke with the talented Mr. Kurtenacker about taunting us with all his tweets on the upcoming music. The tight connections between the development team and their fans is utterly phenomenal. This is no longer just some game we are hoping for, but a game we are a part of.
It will be a great and wonderful ride to release. And it's all thanks to the community.
You guys rock!
Thank you once again for joining us, dear readers! As always feel free to leave comments and suggestions to either myself or Agent Hawkens and we will reply as soon as able.