All online gaming communities share several things in common. Most notably, they’re virtual hangouts where people go to share interests and get more enjoyment out of the games they love.
Nonetheless, there’s often a disconnect between developers and their target audiences. This is often the case with AAA studios of the type which are accused of profiteering and failing to listen to their players.
It’s time to start viewing your community not just as a place for players to interact, but also as a platform for developers and publishers to build relationships with their players. This comes with knowing who your audience is – which is also why the concept ‘made by gamers for gamers’ is important to many players. In other words, you need to demonstrate that you’re one of them.
Here are five types of personalities you’ll find in any gaming community:
#1. The Casual Gamer
Every game has its casual players, even if it’s a title that caters primarily to a dedicated hardcore. Some games, consist almost exclusively of casual players, which can make it more challenging to encourage regular interaction with your community. They’re the ones who play games for casual enjoyment, and they’re not usually interested in competition, grinding, playing for hours on end or even hanging out in the forums.
Accommodating the casual player is important in many communities. This is why, for example, World of Warcraft has distanced itself in recent years from the elite hardcore to build a community that consists of more casual, laid-back players.
#2. The Theory Crafter
Sometimes used interchangeably with hardcore gamers, theory crafters are among the most dedicated players of all. This player is more common among massively multiplayer games that prioritize progression above all else and don’t have an end-game in the traditional sense. They often have analytical minds, to the extent that they’re deeply fascinated with game mechanics and developing optimal strategies around them.
Theory crafters are often accused by casuals of being arrogant and out of touch with those who don’t have as much time or desire to play. Oftentimes, the two don’t sit well together. This is why it’s not always easy to accommodate both player types in your community. On the other hand, if approached with care and encouraged to mix with players of other types, they can also become valuable brand player advocates.
#3. The Tinkerer
While most gamers just like to play, others like to bring some creativity into the mix. These are the players who want to make their own mark on the games they love by developing their own content or finding innovative ways to progress. Not all games attract the tinkerer, but those that do greatly improve re-playability with player-created content such as modifications.
Games that are a good fit for tinkering include open-world titles with expansive scope and potential that can really only be realized by the empowerment of a strong community base. A good example is ARK: Survival Evolved, a multiplayer game that strongly encourages the development of community-generated content through its sponsored modding program and community showcase.
#4. The Pro Gamer
eSports is now a big thing. It’s starting to make its way into many genres, not just multiplayer games. From speed runs to competitive gaming to alternative playstyles and player-made tutorials, the pro gamer is the most valuable player that a studio can have.
The most important thing to remember about professional gamers is that they’re among your biggest influencers. These are the people with large followings and the power to bring your game before the masses. At the high end of the spectrum, they’re the YouTubers with millions of dedicated followers, such as PewDiePie, Markiplier and Vanoss Gaming.
#5. The Troll
Sadly, the world of video gaming sees way more than its fair share of trolling. From attention-seekers to hardcore players who think they’re better than everyone else, these are the people with the ability to give your game a bad name. They’re the ones who need to be taken down a notch so they don’t turn away other players who often judge a game by the health of its community.
Dealing with trolls is a complex matter, not least of which because there are many different types of troll. Oftentimes, people troll without knowing it or even meaning to. Peer-to-peer moderation and gamification of your forums can help keep them at bay, but there will always be times when your moderators need to step in before matters spiral out of control.