Why I Distance Myself From Gaming Communities

Staying away from gaming communities has helped me to appreciate games more.
Image credit: Geeky Shots/Unsplash

When was the last time you played the perfect game?

It’s the elusive Holy Grail for any gamer: a game that’s so good that a single fault can’t be found. A few titles have come close in the last decade, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but even those critical successes can hardly be called flawless.

Every game is flawed. Every game could have been better in some way, either by way of improving an existing feature or adding something that feels like it’s missing. No game is so completely perfect that you can play it and be wholeheartedly satisfied with it as-in. You may be content with it, and you may not feel the need to voice your qualms, but you still have them—you just choose not to air them.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem is, somebody out there does feel the need to raise a fuss about this or that, no matter how minor the point may be.

And how do they do this? If they’re smart, they’ll convey it using whatever feedback method the game developer has designated. Then again, for the 99 percent of folks who aren’t as clever, they might just hop onto the nearest forum or subreddit and create a rant thread (or a suggestion thread, which is often a veiled rant thread anyway).

The game developer may or may not read such threads. This in itself is a catch-22: if the game developer ignore all such feedback threads, the community will rise up against the developer in outrage until they have their ear; if the game developer does participate and implement any of the feedback they agree with, they’re liable to fragment the community. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

After all, it’s extremely rare—perhaps even non-existent—for any given feedback or suggestion to have unanimous support from every single person who plays the game. Someone is bound to disagree. Even the most well thought-out suggestion that has literally zero drawbacks will encounter pushback from players who prefer things the way they are.

And they’ll raise their own complaint thread in response, thus starting the cycle all over again.

To be clear, I’m not saying it’s wrong to criticize a game or to voice one’s opinions, that everyone should shut up and happily devour whatever candy or rubbish the game developer sees fit to feed. I can be quite opinionated when it comes to games I love, and I’ve written more than my fair share of rant threads in forums and subreddits.

What I am saying is that people who are dissatisfied with a game have every reason to voice their opinions, and people who are content with a game have every reason to say nothing.

For this reason, every gaming community that centers around a particular game or franchise has but one fate: to devolve into a cesspool of threads that solely exist to point out what’s wrong with the game and what could be done better (mixed in with memes and support threads, of course). No game is perfect, people have opinions, and they will bring those imperfections to the surface. It’s inevitable.

And as much as I like to think of myself as an independent thinker, the truth is, my opinions are swayed just as easily as anyone’s.

I hate that feeling when I’m happily enjoying a game, only for my view of that game to be tainted and soured by the game’s community. Ignorance is bliss, and this is a shining example. There are many games that, if I had played them start-to-finish in a vacuum, I would have greatly enjoyed and left satisfied. But once I hear the peanut gallery, I find myself enjoying the game less—even though nothing about the game itself has changed.

That’s all in the past, now.

It’s been over a year since I’ve actively participated in a gaming community, and I have to say, my gaming experience has been far more gratifying. I’m happy I made the change. But what about you? Do you agree about gaming communities? Would you consider breaking away from them?

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  1. While game communities have a well-deserved general reputation for being one of the lowest forms of online discourse, the best online forum on any subject I’ve experienced is also a game forum. That’s CivFanatics.com where I spent an enjoyable ~5 years during the Civ4 era.

    I don’t worry about criticisms on forums, so they don’t affect me like you. Once you’re familiar with the degree of drivel in a forum, it’s easy to scan past it to the occasional better stuff. Steam is a good example—loads of dross, but also lots of good useful info.

    GOG.com community is less teenagery than most, while Reddit is very variable—seems to depend on the game. The least desirable seem to be the big publishers’ communities, eg Ubi & EA. Then again, the BBC’s HYS comments are a disgrace for arguably the world’s flagship media org, so it’s certainly not only gaming which is generally toxic.

    1. True! It’s not just gaming communities, and comment areas can be even worse than forums. Admittedly most of my exposure these days is on Reddit, and subreddits are quick to lose their quality after a certain threshold of activity. Smaller niche communities seem to fare better, and from what I’ve seen, Civ players tend to be nicer than not.

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