“More Than Just Games”: How Gaming Can Bring Communities Together
I originally wrote this article for Gamenana — an online used games marketplace — in November 2021. I was hired to promote their business on their blog, and for this piece they asked me to write about “the value of a gaming community”. Unfortunately, for internal reasons Gamenana were unable to publish this article, so I’m publishing it here as a sample for my portfolio.
For as long as I can remember, playing video games has been a great way to bond with other people. I first got into games as a kid through Pokémon Red and Blue, and made many friends through trading and battling Pokémon, working together to fill up our Pokédexes, and cheering each other on as we trained up our dream teams to be the strongest they could be. Even as children, these were more than just games; they were a source of connection that brought together kids who might otherwise never have talked to each other.
That sense of video games as a centre for community followed me from childhood to adulthood, with a lot of my early adult friendships stemming from my university’s Games Society. Many of the people there were big fans of the Borderlands series and Planetside 2, and up until that point I had mainly been into RPGs and had barely played any shooters. Because of this, I sometimes felt like a bit of a “fake gamer” with my new friends at first. However, they were always eager to teach me how to play new games and tell me everything I needed to know so I could get up to speed and play with them. Before long I was confident enough to run my own retro gaming events, and I have a lot of fond memories of playing games like Goldeneye and Super Smash Bros. with the people I met there, as well as bringing new students into the fold like I had been brought in myself. Those games formed the foundation of strong friendships that have only grown over time, and I still have a great community around me because of the connections I forged back then. I’m sure many people reading this can relate, and have similar stories of their own. As people grow through different life stages and move to new places, video games provide a kind of shared language that can both break the ice when meeting new people and ensure you have something in common with old friends as relationships grow and change.
Over the past two years we’ve seen more than ever how important gaming communities can be. With many of us locked down in our homes due to the pandemic and adjusting to some huge changes in the world outside, people have been using video games as a way to stay in touch and make connections with each other in a time where meeting in person has become that much more difficult. Personally, some of my best memories of the past two years come from building galactic empires with my friends in Stellaris and laughing at each other’s terrible drawings while playing Jackbox. Other people in my community have been exploring a vast and beautiful galaxy together in No Man’s Sky, bonding over spooky survival horror in Don’t Starve Together, and using streaming platforms like Twitch to share the experience with others. Even people who weren’t previously into gaming have been picking up a controller and getting involved; from Animal Crossing to Among Us, we’ve seen some great releases that are very approachable for new gamers, providing an easy way for them to bond with their kids or even hold business meetings at a distance.
But not everyone already has a community around them to play games with, and even gamers whose families are getting into Animal Crossing might not be interested in joining them in more hardcore games like Call of Duty or Destiny. Not to mention that expense can be a huge barrier to getting into gaming, with a new copy of an AAA videogame often costing $60 or more. Even preowned games can be overly expensive, with companies like Gamestop dominating the US market and adding extremely high markup. Here at Gamenana, we’re trying to build a platform that will help anyone to find a local community of like-minded gamers, while making the games themselves affordable so as many people as possible can simply pick up a game and play. Whether you’re a veteran gamer or just getting into the hobby, we really hope we can help you to connect with others and build those kinds of lasting community relationships for yourself.
Do you have a story you’d like to share about your own gaming community? Why not tell us about it in a post on the Homepage? We’d love to see what you have to say.