We all know the worst gaming communities. Some games just seem to bring out the awful in people (I’m looking at you LoL). But what about the best gaming communities? There are some communities where players are friendly, helpful, supportive of new players, free from elitism, free from excessive sarcasm, and even more-or-less free from death threats. Here’s a run-down of the best gaming communities I’ve found, and why I think they incubate a friendlier place to play.
1. Team Fortress 2
First things first, let’s agree that all competitive games can get a bit toxic. But out of all the FPS games out there, TF2 seems disproportionately friendly. While it’s not completely douchebag-free, both the casual and eSports communities host much less verbal pummeling. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, it’s a popular game with a constant influx of new players; mixed skill levels mean that you won’t be instantly decimated as you would in more competitive FPS games. Secondly, it’s a team-based game, going lone-wolf is inadvisable; players must rely on support classes like the medic. Finally, the funny, animated setting creates a laid-back vibe; lots of players are just there to have a bit of fun, rather than proving they’re e-Rambo. Naturally, you won’t find this on every server, but after a little server shopping-around, it’s easy to find and favorite a good’un. I was about to say the same thing about Overwatch, but I played a round before writing this, and a 12-year-old almost made me cry.
I know, I know, but hear me out. Battlefield can get pretty damn mean, but it’s worth noting that there are at least lesser degrees of toxicity in some realistic FPS games. Unlike CoD, I’ve found that EA’s Battlefront can be surprisingly welcoming. Again, this is likely down to teamwork. Successful teams are often the ones that cooperate and communicate to give themselves a tactical advantage. As you might imagine, screaming down your mic that your teammate is a ‘noob-jackoff-waste-of-space’ isn’t the best way to ensure they’ll be watching your back when they respawn. While it’s friendly to play, the forums are a whole different ball game. The rant-filled forums are enough to give casual gamers a light case of PTSD. If you’re looking to discuss Battlefield, their YouTube community is a much friendlier place to go, Battlefielders are great for audience interaction, and fans tend to unite around issues like poor-quality DLCs and pre-order bonuses. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that jazz.
3. Rainbow Six Vegas 2
This brilliant game was years ahead of its time and still draws a dedicated fanbase all these years later. Just as Battlefield is slower paced than COD, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is even slower still. The slower pace seems to attract a more supportive community. Why? I’m not sure, possibly because it’s an older game, so players are true fans of the genre. Alternatively, the slower, tactical game-play may attract a more thoughtful, intelligent player and deter the impatient pubescent rage-gamers who just don’t have the time for it. Its follow-up, Rainbow Six Siege, supports anti-harassment efforts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s just hit an all-time high player count.
4. The Entire Total War Series
While many releases in this franchise disappointed fans, they’ve never failed to produce excellent communities. Considering these games include death and destruction on a scale perhaps unrivaled by any other game, they’re really rather friendly. The forums are full of tactical debate, strategy guides, and well-meaning discussion. Players seem genuinely enthusiastic to educate others on improving their gameplay and RL historical facts. The games draw in like-minded, intellectual (even if I say so myself) players with interests in history and strategy. Heartfelt praise is commonplace for mods who’ve taken the time to produce awesome game variants. And yes, that includes lizard-men.
5. Rocket League
Who would have thought that this 2015 car-football game would still be so popular three years later? Admittedly, you can be placed in servers where as a new player you’re left driving around the stadium floor while pros are masterfully flying around the rooftops, but as someone who’s been that floor-hog many times, I’ve never once received a grilling for it. It seems to have brought with it some of the beautiful game’s better aspects of sportsmanship that are often lacking in Fifa and Pro-Evo. Again, it has a team-play element, but even with that, it’s especially friendly. Play well and you’re never short of team-mates and opposition choosing to send “What a save!” or “Nice shot!” messages. For humanity’s sake, let’s just hope it doesn’t take the restriction to a handful of message options to get people to be nice to each other!
6. Little Big Planet
While you could argue that Little Big Planet’s friendliness is due to its younger audience, the same certainly can’t be said of the hate-stew that is Minecraft online. Little Big Planet’s charm is more likely thanks to its community rating system and world-building aspects. By encouraging creativity, LBP has made an environment more focused no compliments than the usual semi-racist, illiterate hounding that we gamers have grown weirdly accustomed to. Genuine friendships are made in Little Big Planet and it’s a great change of pace from massive online war-zones where the ultimate goal is a ‘killing frenzy’.
7. Left 4 Dead 2
It doesn’t all need to be rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns to create a fun place to game online. Case in point — the ravenous hordes of Left for Dead 2. Perhaps more than any other game, teamwork creates a real sense of camaraderie, which perhaps can only be earned in the face of overwhelming herds of undead. It’s welcoming to new players and different play-styles. And really attracts hero play — more times than I can count I’ve been stuck on my own as advancing flesh-hungry walkers closed in, then out of nowhere, team-mates arrive guns-a-blazing to save the day. One of the key factors that goes into making this community so great, is that it’s difficult. Which brings us to…
8. Dark Souls
This cult classic and its numerous iterations attracts a certain type of gamer, i.e. the type of gamer who enjoys getting his ass brutally kicked, time and time and time AND TIME again. Surprisingly, this also seems to be the sort of gamer who’s happy to spend their time helping other players get their asses kicked slightly less frequently and/or brutally. As well as its difficulty, streaming speed-runners and dedicated lore-creators help forge the bonds of its tight-knit, albeit masochistic following. It’s safe to say that the community does have an ugly side, when Dark Souls 3 players discovered the uselessness of the poise stat, all the frustration of a million-plus deaths suddenly targeted the developers, and anyone who dared defend them.
007 Legends — This 2012 game massively undersold and didn’t get the praise it deserved, leading it to complete removal from digital sales. That said, united by their undying love of everything Bond, it attracted a brilliantly communicative and welcoming community.
Guild Wars 2 — Despite being released six years ago, this fantastic MMORPG maintains a great community. It’s not unusual for strangers to show up in the PvE wilderness and save you from the (literal) jaws of death. Add to that a clever loot system, rewarded cooperation, and cool community events, and you’ve got yourself a game where experts and greenhorns work cohesively side-by-side. Ain’t that nice.
So if you, like me, have long been keen to appreciate gaming in a friendlier setting, you just need to find a team-based, laid-back, competitive, super-slow-paced, historically accurate, child-friendly, devastatingly difficult, zombie-fighting game with elements of sportsmanship and limited speech options… Alternatively, you could just sign up to Gamerjibe.
Do you agree with my choices? Feel free to tell me I’m wrong, but please be nice about it, I’m fragile. If I missed any great gaming communities, let me know in the comments.