It has been increasingly more difficult over the past few years to actually have a genuine discussion and meet people online while playing games – at least that has been the case in my experience. So many games are now sacrificing the camaraderie of playing a game (the creation of a gaming community) for the convenience of playing it.
The most ironic case of this happening has to be with MMORPGs. I was an avid World of Warcraft player for many years, where I remember making a ton of friends through the game that I still talk to on a regular basis many years later. It has been increasingly difficult to create that kind of friendship though.
Before all of the convenience introduced into WoW, like the looking for group system (matchmaking basically), looking for raid, and the far fewer amounts of group quests, you were forced to interact with people to do something. If you wanted to do most 5-man instances, you had to look for people on your server to come and do it with you. Raids? You likely had to be a part of a guild to accomplish that task and spend a lot of time with them to do it. Leveling up and see a cool group quest with an elite mob? Well, you probably had to spam the general chat looking for someone to come help and do it with you.
Now everything is about convenience. A player can get online, look for a group to do an instance or raid, then log off whenever they are finished. More and more MMOs are catering to solo-play rather than group or co-op. Pretty much anyone can complete an MMOs content by themselves without ever really interacting with other people. (I do understand that convenience for many people has been a great thing and allowed them to see content they otherwise wouldn’t have, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has fundamentally changed the game for everyone in the process).
Each server was its own gaming community as well, which has lost its significance greatly. For a long while the forums attached to your server were a cool place to discuss the happenings of the server. There was a certain pride in going into PvP battlegrounds with your server to fight another one. Now that is greatly diminished with certain systems that allow for cross-server play (again, I understand how this in the end was probably a smart move to ensure people wouldn’t have to wait for a long time to get into instances, but, again, this still helped remove the camaraderie in the game).
I used World of Warcraft as an example, but none of what I just said doesn’t apply to many other MMOs as well. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and now Destiny. Both allow players to do their own thing, and Destiny, even though I have not played it, seems to have made it very difficult to play and form groups/clans with other players.
This doesn’t just apply to MMOs either, but many other multiplayer games. Take any FPS out there today with matchmaking. Matchmaking caters to solo-play so anyone can do a match or two really quick and log off if they wish. That is not cohesive to meeting new people online. Matches for many games can last 10 minutes sometimes, not nearly enough to even talk to someone. Add to the fact that in many of those games there is very little downtime, meaning little to no time to socialize, and there is just no chance to talk with people.
Thankfully, some games still allow dedicated servers that anyone can host. Searching through there and finding a server you like will often lead you to a gaming community you enjoy, but it will take some work. I have found a few I enjoy for games like Team Fortress 2.
This is totally reliant on the player base though. It is up to the players to create a server and then foster that gaming community. That can be by hosting a website for their server with forums for people to come and talk or some other kind of socializing tool for when people might not be playing.
There are very few mechanisms in place by game creators to foster a gaming community, many of which have lucked out to have a community so interested that the game stays afloat. Others have gone the route of allowing mods to their games, which if it catches on, will create a community that will stay around for many, many years.
Everything seems to be working against socializing online, with very few things in place to actually foster it. Some games, like WoW, still have some communities online through their official forums, as do other games, but few do much to help people interact with one another. Basically, games need to force people to interact with one another, as we all know when we play we’d more often than not just be happy to go on our merry way than to have to deal with someone else.
I’m glad that some games have forced me to play with strangers because I’ve had great opportunities to meet cool people from literally all around the world. That sense is slipping away to me though and I am devastated to see it go.More About This Game