The Rise of Low Sodium & Gentle Gaming

Matt Klein
On Advertising
Published in
3 min readNov 2, 2022

--

As any gamer knows, discussions online aren’t the most… let’s say, rosy. However, there’s a sea change as of late.

Surges of gamers are opting into communities where there’s no toxic critiques — only upbeat praise and celebration. They’re creating and seeking out Low Sodium subreddits.

“Low Sodium” is a phrase which means “no salt,” or in other words, no negativity. Stop being so salty.

While first spotted a couple years ago during the peak of CyberPunk 2077’s let down of a release, a separate 2077 “Low Sodium” subreddit community was created to filter out the seemingly omnipresent animosity. This way, fans could just appreciate the game for what it was.

“Gamers are the worst part of gaming.”

Manufacturing ways to filter out the saltiness is now a growing priority.

Since 2077’s subreddit, mirrored “Low Sodium” communities are spawning across Reddit for other popular titles (ex. Halo and Battlefield 2042). Currently, the number of unique contributors in Low Sodium subreddits are growing faster than their original counterparts.

In an industry riddled with intense antagonism and high expectations, “Low Sodium” harkens back to what makes gaming so special: pure play.

When analyzing the language sentiment from gaming subreddits vs. their no salt counterparts, it’s statistically clear: discussions within “Low Sodium” communities are in fact both more optimistic, less angry, and ultimately more enticing.

There’s been a +126% increase in positive-coded keywords across Low Sodium subreddits over the last four months. Deeper, negative-coded keywords are -43% less likely to appear in Low Sodium subreddits than their counterparts. And likely as a result, growth of conversation in r/LowSodiumHalo is up +131% over the last four months compared to r/Halo’s +39%.

If we take these signals and extrapolate, the gaming world is purging some of its toxicity, and gamers are seeking out more innocent and nostalgic associations.

Views to r/RetroGaming are up +48% YoY, and +63% to r/TipofMyJoystick, a subreddit helping gamers remember titles of old games from vague descriptions and foggy memories. Nostalgic gaming is only one remedy.

Meanwhile, there’s been a +92% growth of views to r/PixelArt, while mentions of “Pixel Art” are up +50% across Reddit YoY. On that note, views to r/ChipTunes are up +82% YoY.

The everyday bickering amongst gamers is getting eclipsed by Low Sodium subreddits, nostalgic undertones, and a newfound appreciation for the artistry behind gaming.

Further, with signals like the growth of tabletop gaming, non-addictive games, Farmer Simulator and Can You Pet the Dog? (a Twitter account answering the question for many titles), it’s evident we’ve cleared a key checkmark, coming a long way from seeing video games as violent threats to our children.

While realistic immersion, endless worlds, and intensive combat remain desired, there’s an overlooked and flourishing interest in the 8-bit, slow, low or no stakes, and artisanal components of games.

Larger, it’s a signal of what’s desired all throughout culture today: like-minded communities, decreased hostility, and just some simple good vibes.

Oh, and why does Low Sodium have to stop at gaming?

Matt Klein is a cultural theorist and strategist analyzing the psychosocial implications of our technology to consult on business decisions.

--

--

Matt Klein
On Advertising

Cultural Theorist + CyberPsychologist + Strategist. Foresight Lead at Reddit. Newsletter analyzing the overlooked: ZINE.KleinKleinKlein.com