• On finding a community

    by  • March 12, 2012 • Essays • 5 Comments

    It’s been awhile since I’ve considered myself a “new” gamer. I’ve been doing this for almost ten years after all! I’m an old hand at this!

    Until I started meeting more and more gamers, discovering this vast community of people, some of whom seem to have used a Monster Manual in place of a blankie, and Warhammer miniatures in place of Barbie dolls.

    Compared to them? I’m a total noob. Until I joined Google+ last July, I hardly even realized there was a dedicated community of “gamers” online.

    I knew there were sites about gaming, and many of those sites had forums where people were discussing their favorite games. But jumping into a well-established forum is overwhelming and intimidating sometimes, not to mention I had a very real fear of running continually into the male gamer stereotype that didn’t want “girls” at his table, virtual or otherwise.

    So I held back, content to game with my usual group with the occasional foray into a discussion with farflung friends on Twitter or at a con.

    And then Google+ happened. The friend that gave me my invite is part of my gaming group, and he was friends with other gamers who had early invites. Automatically, my extended circles were full of gaming talk. So part of finding the gaming community online was a case of “who you know.”

    But secondly it was the timing of joining Google+. There was a lot of excitement about how G+ could and would be “different” from other social media sites last summer. We were in a walled garden, so the system didn’t feel like it was working if you weren’t following several people. That encouraged people to circle other people they didn’t know at all, just shared some interests with. The shared circle feature made it easier to find a bunch of people with similar interests all in one go.

    There was also an emphasis on heightened discourse. It was incredibly encouraging to see people early on talking about the standards of discourse we should have on G+. Public shaming of people who casually made insults using words referencing sexual orientation or mental ability. Multiple calls to get more women involved on the platform. This was a place where I wanted to be.

    Meeting a wide variety of gamers all at once, most of whom seemed committed to this higher standard of discourse that was part of many of the early G+ conversations, introduced me to more and more places to talk about gaming on the internet – culminating, for now at least, in this very site you’re reading now. You can read more from wundergeek on how this all happened regarding this site in particular. But my previous experiences on G+ were what led me to find this prospective community, and feel that even though I’m a relative newbie to the world of gaming in general and the online gaming community in particular, that my voice was one that could be added to the conversation.

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    About

    Lifelong geek and feminist, my geeky passions include YA books, movies, and role playing. I've been playing table top games on and off for almost ten years with a wide variety of games under my belt in that time. Born and raised in Michigan, I've fulfilled a life-long dream and now live in New York City with my spouse and three cats. My gaming exploits are recorded at http://www.fandible.com

    5 Responses to On finding a community

    1. avatar
      chemrebel
      March 12, 2012 at 21:45

      I’d like to find more analog gamer voices on G+ but among my group of friends, IRL and online, I seem to be the one who is utilizing social media the most. My contacts aren’t the most early of adapters, heck neither am I! But it seems like I’m not having the best of luck on G+.

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      • avatar
        Angela Craft
        March 12, 2012 at 23:49

        A lot of other social networks have an emphasis on friending/following/verb-of-choice-ing people that you already know IRL. G+, due in large part, I think, to the graduated roll out of the platform, is more about going out and finding brand new people to follow. It can feel a little weird at first, but the gaming community welcomes new voices. If you see an interesting-looking conversation, jump on in!

    2. avatar
      March 13, 2012 at 01:35

      I know of said RPG forums and I no longer frequent said RPG forums because my life needs less drama, not because I fear the boys. The ratio of sexism to random and constant drama weighs heavily on the drama side. I don’t have enough bile any more.

      I’m an avowed and admitted twitter junky. I do love the twitters. Twitter is like a chat room full of friends that occasionally spews news, rumors, and/or comments about the NCAA Basketball Tournament (I just did brackets) into my stream. About 1/2 of my twitter follow list are gamers but they’re active so while 1/2 of my twitter follow list are gamers about 2/3rds of my stream are people talking about games or spitting up links to their current projects.

      I’m having a hard time getting into G+. I post things there from Google Reader all the time but I’m not pulled in. Could be all the time I spend on twitter pulls from my other social networking time. Could be I’m in the wrong magic circles.

      I’m clearly too old to do The Facebooks.

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    3. avatar
      March 13, 2012 at 20:03

      Twitter moves too fast for my tastes, especially as I do have a life away from the monitor. On the other hand, I have been part of conversations that really utilized its pithy potential. (And, of course, I occasionally write dirty weasel poetry within 140 character constraints.) Facebook is… annoying and the only reason I maintain an account there is because it is the sole source of updates on some friends and family (although I do try to train my mom out of presuming that just because it’s on Facebook I know about her expectations of me to be somewhere.) MySpace and Friendster…okay, stop laughing. (Heck, I have a Tumblr and a LiveJournal, too.)

      Google+ actually provides everything I would have been getting from the other places in a way that doesn’t annoy me. It’s easy to follow people, it’s easy to control conversations, and while it doesn’t shun long posts, it does provide a “read more” that makes you want to keep things somewhat terse. (And I find myself saying, “If I have that much to say about something, I should put it on my blog instead and just link it.”) I have actually gotten to know some gamers who were more peripheral on some of the discussion boards I read a lot better because they’ve really developed their writing to the G+ format.

      That being said, I do understand the other side of it; when I sit down to play AD&D with my family, we trot out well-used 1st Edition rules (with _Unearthed Arcana_ add-ins.) My dad’s DMG really IS a teddy bear, with all the highlights and notes and places I can feel where he had worn down the pages for looking at them.

      I have never, ever, looked for 1st Edition resources on the net. By now, thirty years plus (and three generations of input) into it, my game has so little in common with the rules and the expectations that I wouldn’t even know where to start. I think it’s true of lots of people who got into that generation – their game is so much their game now, there’s little to be had from outside input. …but I lurk several FATE lists and forums. So what I’m looking for as a gamer shapes my experience in finding resources, too.

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    4. avatar
      mechanteanemone
      March 14, 2012 at 00:50

      I think we all need communities, and tabletop gaming is a fundamentally social activity. It’s fun to meet new people, hear about different games, learn tips and trick, and share ideas. I also think that yes, women gamers sometimes need a place where we can metaphorically kick off our shoes and shoot the breeze without having to be defensive about the fact that we’re women… I used to be very active on some online gaming forums, but gradually dropped out because I was so tired of explaining Sexism 101.

      I do read a lot of feminis blogs, as a personal interest. On the other hand, I don’t want my gaming community to be the same as a feminist rally; I’ve dropped from one forum dedicated to women in gaming because the level of feminist theory and protectiveness required was greater than I wanted to deal with for gaming. After all, our hobby involves pretending to do some pretty outrageous things — killing monsters to steal treasure being only one example — and I want to be able to discuss them without having to write a journal article every time.

      Nowadays I keep in touch mostly via G+ and Facebook with my gamer peeps — many of which I’ve known only online, some since the late 90s! In the end, we not only stick to, but also create, the communities we need. If no one has created the space we need, it’s worth it to explore whether we can create it ourselves, since the Net makes it so easy nowadays. Like this place!

      Some time ago I wrote an article on creating gaming communities, based on my experience. It’s still posted on the site of the club I was active with when I lived in Seattle; it may be of interest to thos loooking for some practical tips: http://gamefest.wordpress.com/articles/forming-a-gaming-community/

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