While I was doing my thanks you’s for the new year, I mentioned “awesome gaming communities” more than once. A good community is important to me when I’m deciding where I’m going to spend my time. I’ve always said I deal with enough jerks offline, I don’t need them during my game time, too. Just calling a community “awesome and win” isn’t very descriptive though, so let’s talk about something my favorite gaming communities have in common.
My favorite gaming communities all have player based help for newcomers. Tutorials are great, but I haven’t seen anything that beats a group of players actively interested in welcoming and helping people new to the game/community. In The Secret World this is primarily done via a few global chat channels; with the Video Games Awesome servers I’ve seen new players get newbie-bombed with all kinds of offers of help. In both cases there may be groups that are known for being “in charge” of helping new players – but the rest of the community is also on board. I’ve seen this to a smaller degree in other games and on other servers, and it always hits me as a good sign.
Newbie groups, and communities who are helpful, directly help the new players, of course. What folks may not realize is that they are also good for the game since they help retain those new players, increasing the playerbase. They also help experienced players – both by giving those players something different to do and by encouraging them to grow as players since newbies will often have new questions and new ideas. Forming a culture of helpful behavior also helps make the community as a whole feel stronger. Players see each other as part of a team even if ingame they’re on opposite sides. That sounds corny, but it’s something I’ve noticed.
Some people aren’t very good teachers and I’m not slamming those who don’t have the patience or skills. I tend to think newbie groups help those players as well, though. When a player is still learning, they’re less likely to group above their paygrade just to get a mission done if there is a better option. I had no reason to bother speed runners in TSW when I could find players who wanted to run with someone new to a dungeon.
I hear people complaining fairly often that they don’t like the way many games and communities seem to push away new players. Forming newbie groups and making an effort to reach out when someone needs help is one way players can make a change in their communities without waiting for “somebody else” to fix that problem. (Mods and GMs can definitely encourage this.) Given time, helping newcomers seems to promote better and stronger communities; and I find it much more fun and challenging than “LOL, N00b1!!”
Anyone else have stories about their experiences as new players in different games? Things you’ve seen that make that experience either better or worse?
In blog news, I’m getting more information up in the About Me and Otterly Gaming sections. I’ll be continuing to add to those, and new sections, as I have the time and decide what I want to do with them. Thank you for your patience with that and while I decide on a posting schedule! 🙂
LATE EDIT: Added tumblr share buttons on posts and pages.