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.