As the video game industry has grown in size and organization, so too has the community for video games. Video games have always had a certain social potential to them, whether it was hanging out with friends at an arcade or linking up with others in a matchmaking lobby online.
This social aspect to video games has resulted in many forms of community developing in the medium. A big example of community driven interaction is the creation of clans and guilds. In clans and guilds, people with gather together to play a variety of games together, and they can be either casual or competitive in nature. Even for people who aren’t in organized clans/guilds, they tend to play and enjoy games with the same group of people. Large or small, people tend to create communities around games.
A sense of community can really enhance the experience of a video game. In a community, people can talk freely on the topics that they’re most passionate about, meet like minded individuals and forge friendships. A well organized community can make an audiences love for a game grow to sizes that would have otherwise not been possible. It is an element that exists entirely outside of the game itself, and yet it remains intrinsically tied to it.
Of course, the quality and attitude of the community is entirely based off of the game in question; people will be more passionate about a game that they enjoy just as they are less likely to feel invested in a game that does not stand out to them. A quality community in no way replaces or covers up the issues that a game may have, so the game itself should always remain the top priority.
Another thing that must be taken into consideration about a community is that if a company actually wants to have any control over the direction it takes, the community needs to be managed, and it needs to be managed effectively. Companies can attempt to make their consumers feel more involved by setting up community events; these can be days when members of the community get together to play games, or if a company does live streaming, they can announce their streaming schedule so that people can drop in and watch.
Creating a community around a game can inspire a certain sense of loyalty toward a company as well. If consumers look kindly upon the people behind one project, they then become more likely to invest in future projects of those people.
Some communities are formed completely independent of video game companies. They consume a game and enjoy it to such an extent that they form groups so that they can discuss and relish in the experiences that they come away with from the game. One example of such a community is one that formed around FromSoftwares Dark Souls.
The particular community began when the Youtuber VaatiVidya started to created videos in which he dissected the game to reveal details and lore that many people had never noticed while playing through the game. Dark Souls is a game that lent itself to such community discussion and theorizing because so much of its story is ultimately left up to interpretation. Very little is explicitly told to players throughout the game, so Vaati’s content attracted a following as they offered well thought out explanations to questions that the game seemed almost unwilling to answer.
Vaati’s audience is now extremely large, and his community shows a tremendous amount of interest in FromSoftware’s Soul series.
Developing and managing a community can pay off in spades if done correctly, and it can win consumers to a developers side for future endeavors.