A game’s community can be either a huge strength for the game, or something that counts heavily against it. When it comes to online games and MMOs, the community is especially important, possibly more than many people realize. Some games have an absolutely terrible community, which can put people off before they even start playing. Other games have a great community. Most tend to fall in between, and have some bad apples, and some awesome.
Things may change between now and when the game actually releases and it’s given some time to settle in, but so far, the Guild Wars 2 community is leaning mostly towards the “awesome” side of things. And I say that as someone fairly new to the whole “being part of a community” thing. I pretty much just posted on forums, but never really made any friends outside of the art forum on GWG (which is in fact a great little community-within-a-community, but Guild Wars + art will be a later topic for me to discuss). Then towards the end of last year, I saw that GuildMag was in need of people, and I decide hey, what the heck. I’ll apply.
And as silly as it sounds, that was one of the smartest things I’ve done.
I began using twitter more, because it made it easier to keep up with GW news and GuildMag stuff. I started chatting with some of the other people working on GuildMag, and found a few other people who looked nice and like they’d be fun to talk to. And…I enjoyed it. I’ve always been a pretty shy, quiet person, so being able to talk with people with such ease and be accepted was nice. I’ve got a nice group of friends now and we pretty much can chatter about anything – from Guild Wars info, to current news, to just general life stuff.
That all started because of my love for Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2.
The GW2 community so far actually has something of a very odd feel to it, but if you spend any time around sites like GW2G, you’ll see what I mean fairly quickly. The community is actually fairly large, for a game that’s not out yet and won’t be out for some time. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming trying to get into conversations on forums. But there’s also this feeling that we’re really just a small, tight-knit group of people that all like the same thing, and are all excited about it.
For example, look at the number of GW2-related blogs and fansites. There are so many! When I first started up Under the Pale Tree, I fretted about – there’s so many other blogs already up and running and well-known; what chances did I have? I’m used to fandoms and communities where another blogger is simply seen as competition for your hard-won readers. But that’s not the case here. Rather, it’s more of a “the more the merrier!” mindset. Even with the limited info we have now, and the fact that anything new released will spawn dozens of blog entries, everyone is going to have their own interpretation. Everyone is going to have different ideas, different things they’re speculating on, different opinions. And so instead of competition, it’s friendship.
And it’s great.
ArenaNet themselves and their hand in this can’t be forgotten, of course. Take, for example, the recent community open house that they held. How many other developers would do such a thing? I honestly can’t think of any. The contests they hold, both for GW1 and now GW2, encouraging fans to exercise their creativity. They openly admit to reading forums, and I know they like reading what their fans have to say about the games on blogs. Even just chit-chatting on twitter. They don’t do what a lot of game devs do, and hide away as faceless beings controlling everyone’s fates. And the way they approach their games with such love, excitement, and determination to make the best damned game they can…as a fan, it’s hard to not get excited.
Things may change as the game releases, and the community suddenly expands very quickly. But I hope the core of what the GW2 community is and how it started out remains. Because damnit, this is how a game’s community should be, and I love being a part of it.