Posted in Gaming

Dual Wielding: LFG Edition – What MMO Players Can Do To Foster Community

Dual Wielding: LFG Edition— sometimes a topic is just too big for a couple of bloggers on their own. That’s when we send out the call, and see who steps up to help us with the challenge.

Other bloggers take on this topic:

Last time, I was a little late to the party in responding to the Duel Wielding LFG prompt. Previously, we discussed what developers could do to better foster community in MMOs. And though I felt that there were some things devs could do to help it, my initial response really was… “This is something more up to the community itself.”

So, now we tackle the question of what players can do to foster a better in-game community. And this may be a jaded-sounding reply, but I feel it all goes back to…

The Golden Rule

the-golden-ruleThat’s right. Treat other people the way you think they’d like to be treated.

This is so, so important to me when I interact with others IRL and in game. Sure, I’m not perfect. And sure, I have my grouchy hermit days or rough raid runs. But I still go out of my way to remind myself that each character I meet in every MMO has a person behind it. And that person has feelings and reasons for what they’re doing.

Maybe that “bad” tank had a terrible falling out with their boss that day. Maybe that “bad” DPS in your PUG is emotionally dealing with parents who are fighting non-stop in a rough family environment. Maybe that “bad” healer is piled on with the stress of balancing a newborn baby with the needs of other children in the house. Maybe someone is struggling with bad grades, bullying, stress at work, falling out with a significant other… and they come to the MMO world to blow off some of that steam.

That doesn’t excuse someone for bad behavior. But it’s up to us as individuals to put ourselves into the shoes of others and respond to even mis-behaved players with the same care and empathy as you might if you were there with them IRL.

I feel that if more players saw other players as actual people, then the community in online gaming would be a completely different place. Would some of these folks really be doing and saying the things they do if they could see the faces of the people they were being hurtful to?

Every Ripple…

I believe that kindness starts with individuals. I believe it takes a lot of courage and self-control to be a voice of kindness when you seem to be facing an overwhelmingly toxic environment. But sometimes that little light you shine can have an effect on things.

I can’t count the number of times when I’ve run content in FFXIV where I helped to teach new folks. These players were learning, and sometimes needed patience, understanding and encouragement. And when that’s provided, you’d be surprised at how they flourish as players.

A lot of this comes from my own grouping fears, which I’ve worked hard to overcome over the years. FFXIV in particular has helped me learn that in general, the community isn’t as frightening as I thought it would be. And that’s because I had folks who encouraged me or were kind to me when I was so scared of facing a new dungeon or trial. Their example and teaching helped me turn around and do the same to someone else.

Be that example. Be the change you want to see.

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Guild Influence

Surround yourself with positive people in game. Choose your guild and friends wisely. Be that example for your guild and hold strong.

If your guild is full of folks who trash talk and treat others with disrespect, it’s much easier to fall in with them and find yourself slipping into that toxic behavior. If you’re in a position to help change this guild environment, do so. If you’re not, and there’s no chance things are going to change, leave. Bottom line.

In FFXIV, I moved from FC to FC looking for a group that fit not just my play style but my philosophy. I didn’t really find one, so I helped to found one with other folks who were looking for the same thing. When I inherited leadership of the FC, I started to mold it into the environment I wanted to log into every night. We’re not perfect people, and we have our own difficulties. But I’m proud of what we’ve built and I’m genuinely happy to talk with every member in our FC whenever I log in.

This is tough. It’s not always easy to find other people who understand the “no drama, clean language, family friendly, respect others” creed we uphold. This means being strict and not allowing things to move in the wrong direction. This means removing people who don’t fit in. This means folks joining and realizing we’re pretty serious about where we stand on these things, and discovering it’s not for them, which means they end up leaving.

But it also means folks joining and realizing… hey… I like this environment. I see the merit in removing what makes things toxic. I understand what it means to value my fellow guild mates as people.

And each person within that guild is hopefully one more positive influence on the community within your server.

Beyond the Guild

I think the greatest good you can do is to take a guild full of like-minded positive folks and spread that influence. Maybe that’s by hosting server-wide events. Maybe that’s by offering to help new players or by kindly answering questions in chat.

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Everything you can do to make empathy and a helpful spirit the rule and not the exception is a win. It’s also not an easy thing to do.

Expect possible push-back and ridicule. Expect folks who may not want your help, or may misunderstand what you’re offering. Sometimes, I find that players don’t know what to do when they’re faced with kindness rather than toxic behavior. They think you want something from them, or you’re out to dupe them…. it’s what they’ve come to expect.

So my TL;DR:

Players can build a better community by being the kind of positive person they want to see in their community.

Follow up:

This is hard to do. 😦