The Art of Building Positive Gaming Communities
The Espots Revue, Episode 6 with our guest David “BowmanShoota” Bowman, purveyor of the Esports Meditation video series on YouTube and @Bowmanshoota on Twitter.
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What is Community Building?
Community building is an activity that takes place in a number of fields. In gaming this role is most notably held by a community manager. The concept of an online community manager has been with us since the early MMORPG days, unfortunately this role is typically limited to one game or a singular developer. There is no community manager or esports ambassador for the competitive gaming scene as a whole.
Defining community building from Wikipedia: “Community building is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement of community among individuals within a regional area (such as a neighborhood) or with a common interest.”
The Tribes we Lead
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” – Seth Godin
Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so.
The Guardian Angel of Esports
Whoever takes this role on will be the guardian angel of esports. In exchange for little to no money or recognition, this individual must selflessly give for the betterment of their community. An decent example of this type of selfless behavior in the political sphere is Cesar Chavez. If you have another example, please let us know in the comments below.
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” – Cesar Chavez
From Smithsonian Magazine: “Chavez’s decision to walk away from a secure job as a community organizer was one of the many brave and fateful moves he made in his short life. But the most significant was his resolution to create what seemed almost impossible, a labor union for farmworkers.”
What almost impossible resolution could be contributed by a singular member of the esports community? What brave and fateful moves could one person make to lead a change for the esports scene as a whole? Is it even possible to impact the entire esports community or is it necessary to start with on specific game? If so, what game’s scene should be focused on in order to enable healthy growth into the future.
How to Build Healthy Esports Communities
In 2013, seven of the top 10 grossing F2P games were esports titles, accounting for $2.85B in revenues. With esports viewership and prize pools topping major sports, organized competitions and content have become inseparable from PVP games. esports is driven by a complex ecosystem of developer/publishers, competition organizations, content producers, media buyers, players and spectators. This session takes a deep dive into:
- The relationships and interactivity between the stakeholder.
- The economics behind leagues, teams and content creators.
- The strategies for building competitive play at both the professional and amateur levels.
- Pre-emptive rules and guidelines for the entire community
- A subset of these rules with legal backing for tournaments and other competitions
- Additional supplementary rules that focus on mitigating toxic players
- Multiple moderating tools both on the website proper, and in-game
- Livestreaming website (Twitch or YouTube are prime choices)
- Livestreaming software (OBS or XSplit are good basic level choices)
- Preferably two shoutcasters (not necessarily from the community dev team)
- Programs that engage the wider community from the core competitive players
- A thick skin when things get ugly or go horribly wrong (which they will)
- Support by the studio to empower you to do all of the above, including a recording space
Most importantly, recognize community leaders. All communities have leaders. Connecting with the leader is easily the best way to connect with everyone else. Support the more vocal members of your community on sites like Reddit.
Building Positive Gaming Communities Resources
- Devs weigh in on esports: Good for the big guys, rough for the small guys via @ Gamasutra
- A Primer on Esports Communities via @ Gamasutra
- Video: How to build a healthy esports community around your game via @ GDC
- The Art of Creating a Community via @ Guy Kawasaki
- The Holy Grail Of Building Communities: Developing A Strong Sense of Community via @ Moz
- How to Build Positive Social Communities via @ Sprout Social