My Fantastic Gaming Community
Three years ago I had just started a job working for a small health and safety consultancy in Wootton Bassett where I live. I had always been a huge fan of games, but safe to say I had no idea about the sheer scale of likeminded people who were only a tweet away. I had no idea how to get a job in the games industry – I knew I had probably missed my chance by not studying the right subjects at college or gambling on university, but hey, this was a time where I didn’t even know community managers for developers existed. I didn’t know about things like Gamescom or Eurogamer Expo – I had never looked beyond the titles on the shelves, satisfying myself with the escapism they brought me and thinking that this was all I needed to enjoy games. You may say I’m a late bloomer to the world of gaming. True I’m a relative virgin to the community but I’ve loved and played games since I can remember. But if the gaming community is a party, then I’ve shown up fashionably late… and the party is awesome.
It all started with something called Twitter – this new fandangled social media thing where apparently you can stalk celebrities and find out what they do from cutting their toe nails to abusing their fellow celebs. Whilst this is loathsomely possible, it can also be used to do a great deal of good. On signing up to Twitter I thought I’d search for any local-based tweeters that I could start following. I came across a certain Joe Dale who I happened to go to school with, albeit a few years below but knew him through my sister and the occasional ‘hello’ over the years. It was the start of something meaningful to me; Joe was writing for Death by Robots (now TheGameJar) at the time and I thought that sounded wicked cool. I enquired as to what he did there as it sounded like something I’d like to do and he gave me some pointers as to who to follow on Twitter and to get writing some reviews.
I quickly found that the gaming industry had a great and active presence on Twitter. I found myself following a whole host of users and engaging in conversation with people I’d never met, but regarding topics we were passionate about. I’d never had this with friends from school so Twitter became a great place for me to critique and discuss topics – and people who shared that interest would see it and engage with me. Twitter, I thought, you’re onto a winner with me.
Death By Robots needed a few new writers – Joe introduced me to Jenn and Ryan to whom I submitted a few pieces to try and showcase my fledgling writing skills. They were thankfully impressed, or I was the best of a bad bunch, so we had a Skype chat, which I found scary. How am I meant to come across to these new people? I want to impress but don’t want to look like a douche?! However, my fears were misplaced and we got on great again thanks to similar interests in games and music alike. Here I’ve met two people who six months before I probably would never have met had I not joined Twitter.
What I want to get across in this article is not my whole backstory on how I came to TheGameJar but how social media and the wider gaming community has played a huge positive role in my life. I have a great group of close friends from school but they can’t satisfy me the way my gaming community can, and I don’t mean sexually. If I went to the pub with my friends and started talking about games or some sociological and ideological aspects of gaming most of them would switch off – it just doesn’t interest them the way it does me. Yet if I post on Twitter or write a feature for TheGameJar on why games make us happy, people respond and interact with that and there aren’t many better feelings than when people give you positive feedback and interaction. We all have an opinion that we love to air and Twitter gives us an outlet to vent our frustrations, joy, anger and happiness to people who will, in some cases, actually listen to you – a hub of likeminded souls.
Some people are lucky enough and have the skills to pay the bills and work in the gaming industry as programmers, coders, PR, community managers (I know what they are now) and a whole host of other roles. Unfortunately there are those of us who work in the ‘real’ world and engage as much as time allows into our gaming community. I’ve come to appreciate the hard work and dedication required to make a successful game, be it the Assassin’s Creeds of this world or the iPhone apps of Hardlines and New Star Soccer. Twitter is the best way to engage with an audience who are after what you have.
Through TheGameJar I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few expos and meet a number of people who work within the industry. Being able to redeem the occasional review code for a new game is a great perk, but pales in comparison to the buzz I get out of my timelines and writing feedback. Being able to meet the people you interact with on a regular basis is fantastic and I hope for more opportunities in the future as we gamers are often the shy type. Hence we seek out the contact from our online peers as we often find it a struggle in person.
There’s just something about my gaming community that fills a hole. I’m checking my Tweetdeck as often as I can and get frustrated when I have to work, therefore missing a few hour’s worth of tweets – I could have missed something big! There’s always a game or controversial topic being discussed that naturally needs my opinion whether others care to read it or not, but that’s the beauty of Twitter; you can divulge your opinion until the cows come home and more often than not someone will come back with their own opinion, sparking a heated debate than ends up with more Twitter handles in the 140 characters than actual opinionated content.
My gaming community are my followers and the people I follow on Twitter, Skype friends and Facebook friends, people who interact with my blog posts and game posts. They give me joy, laughter and at times incredulities. A few have gone on to become people I talk to every day and may even get an invite to my wedding next year (if they’re lucky/add me on Skype). This world I was unaware of only three years ago has now become the backbone to my daily life and a whole world I now can’t live without.