The Evolution of the Gaming Community

Blog Post 2: Blogging as connected writing

Ever since I have been a little kid, I have loved video games.  I was kind of looked at as a nerd, but if you take a good look at the world, most all people have played a video game in some sort of way.  I’ve played popular games for many years and have witnessed the gaming community go from one player per game to multiple thousands playing on the same platform.  Now there are online communities and even public conventions where people can connect and share their experiences through video games.

In the ’90s, technology wasn’t advanced enough to connect players.  The games were basically one player vs. the computer.

Pika I played Donkey Kong and (yes I’ll admit) Pokemon and I liked them, but there was always something lacking.  I always wanted to play with my friends, but they would have to come over and we would have to be hardwired into the gaming system.

 

As time goes on and technology advanced, so did the gaming community.  My first experience with online gaming was when Bungie introduced Halo to the world.  This is a first-person shooter game, but it came with a twist.  There was a story mode that allowed you to play against the computer by yourself.  The twist is the online community it provided.  For the first time (in my life) I could play a game with my friends while they were still at their house.  Most of us were separated by distance as most of us were in college.  Distance was no longer an obstacle.  It connects friends that can’t see each other every day due to living conditions.  Just like a phone call, you could talk through a microphone to keep a casual conversation going.  The online community allowed you to join a lobby with other people and go head-to-head against them.  Going from playing against a computer to playing against another person sets a new level in skill.  It can be measured with stats (how good your kill/death ratio is, etc.).  Eventually most games have a top tier of players that go on to compete professionally for cash and other prizes.  Some games got popular enough to be televised.  ESPN finally had a report on an online gaming “World Championship”.  See that video here .  As you can see,  there is an interest in a professional scene for gaming.  I mean the New York Knicks don’t sell out Madison Square Garden every game and League of Legends had an overflow of people pouring into the stadium to see professionals play a game.  South Korea was the first country to embrace competitive online gaming.  This dates back to Star Craft which is a high strategy war game.  Since then other countries have started to embrace the concept, as there is a market for it.

This was a major advancement in video games and has been a catalyst for a new era of gaming.  Most games have an online section connected to it.  Some games I have been playing now are League of Legends and Destiny.  League of Legends is a completely online oriented game and has multiple opportunities to meet different kinds of people (although most people are hateful behind the safety of their computer screen).  People can be nasty online as they think there are no consequences.  Online bullying has similar symptoms, although that is a whole different topic.  Destiny is more like Halo as it has a story mode and transitions into an online type game.  Destiny and Halo are both made by Bungie.  There is not as much typing and you don’t really have time to type when you’re running away from baddies.  Microphones are still available but that is really only used with friends who (hopefully) don’t talk shit each others.

Onto the gaming community.  Developers and players have long been separated by a lack of communication.  There was always a support system to report bugs and glitches, but some companies have chose to take it a step farther and implement a public forum.
Forum  No, not that kind of forum.  Here is Bungie’s Forum.  Here players can express concerns and even suggest ideas to improve the game. The forums are separated into categories so you can easily talk about your topic or concern.   In a forum, people can make an account connected to their online account within the game.  They can post to a news feed (similar to Facebook).  Once posted, everyone in the forum can see it including the developers.  In many instances, developers don’t take in ideas because they have a business plan and want to maximize profits.  However, this is very helpful for developers to find and pinpoint major flaws in the game, as most developers don’t play their own games.  You never really know what’s wrong unless you go in and get your hands dirty playing, which is exactly what gamers love to do.

Looking back, gaming has come a long way.  From the old Nintendo NES all the way up to the XBox One / PS4.  The internet has connected people in unfathomable ways in the 1990’s.  Today people are starting to embrace the fact that video games are not “nerdy”, but ways to stay connected with friends that would fade because of the sheer distance keeping them apart.  I hope you have had a chance to experience an online community and, if not, I hope this helps you explore into a new region.  I would expect to see more games covered at a professional level by companies like ESPN.  The gaming community is only going to evolve as technology get more advanced.

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