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Community management has become a vital aspect of maintaining a successful gaming ecosystem. Jared Creasy, Senior Community Manager at Tripwire Interactive, shared his insights during his IndieGameBusiness Sessions talk. Toxicity in online gaming communities is not just a moral issue, it’s a matter of business survival.
Gaming communities consist of diverse subgroups and individuals, all seeking a good time. An astonishing 89% of gamers play to relieve stress, making it crucial to ensure they have a positive gaming experience. Recognizing this fact is essential, as it was highlighted in the Entertainment Software Association’s Essential Facts 2022 report. Community interactions occur both inside and outside the game, so fostering these interactions is vital.
The Impact of Toxicity
Toxicity in gaming communities has severe repercussions that may not be immediately apparent. Research from takethis.org reveals some startling statistics:
“6 out of 10 players have quit a session due to hate and harassment.”
“6 out of 10 players have refrained from spending money on a game due to its community.”
“7 out of 10 players avoid certain games because of their community’s reputation.”
The financial implications are significant, with an average monthly spending difference of 54% between games deemed non-toxic and toxic. The financial bottom line is impacted, making it crucial for professionals to address online toxicity effectively.
Meet the Community Management Team
Jared Creasy leads the community team at Tripwire Interactive, which includes a Community Manager and Player Support. Volunteer moderators also play a crucial role in maintaining their community across various titles. Having a well-structured community team is vital for managing gaming communities effectively. “If you’re thinking about having your own team for your own games, this isn’t a bad place to start, and it scales well because you can add more people as needed onto these branches. You can start with one and then grow because it can get busy quite quickly.”
Strategies to Combat Toxicity
Creasy outlined the do’s and don’ts to effectively combat toxicity.
- “Moderate how players express their opinions: Encourage players to share their thoughts within the boundaries of clear rules.”
- “Be clear about your rules and keep them up to date. Tweak and improve them as time goes on and as you run into new situations.”
- “Treat everyone with respect while maintaining professionalism. It’s easy to become friendly with members of your community, and you should. However, you have to remember that at some point, you might need to take action against these people, and you need to keep that level of professionalism involved.”
- “Never stop players from expressing their opinion. Don’t stop players from telling you what they think about their game.”
- “Don’t allow toxicity to fester, be it an individual or a group of people. Make sure you document, warn, and act as quickly as possible.”
- “Don’t be afraid to say you aren’t equipped to answer something or to have a particular type of interaction or apologize if you get something wrong.”
Toxicity in gaming communities comes in various forms, from the blatant to the subtle. Creasy categorizes them into three types:
The Easy to Spot Ragers: These individuals are cheaters or people in chat whose primary goal is to make others upset. They are the most straightforward to identify and should be swiftly dealt with.
Personality Conflicts: As communities grow, conflicts inevitably arise due to differences in mindset, cultural values, and regional tolerances. Handling these conflicts requires a delicate approach and clear community guidelines.
It’s Just a Joke: Some individuals make seemingly innocent or innocuous jokes that gradually create a negative atmosphere. These “jokes” need to be addressed as they can significantly impact community discourse.
Setting the Ground Rules
Setting clear community guidelines is crucial to combat toxicity effectively. Creasy suggests some key basics:
- “Disruptive behavior is not tolerated.”
- “Treat everyone equally and with respect.”
- “Avoid prone-to-heated-argument topics like religion and politics.”
- “Be mindful of how channels and subforums are being used.”
- “Avoid unnecessary tagging and spam posting.”
These rules serve as anchors for maintaining a healthy gaming community.
Regular Interaction with the Community
Engaging with the gaming community regularly is essential. Creasy emphasizes the importance of being present and approachable: “Talk with your community, have chats with them, tell them good morning, and show off your pets in the pet channel.” This regular interaction humanizes the development team and keeps the community engaged even when they’re not playing the game. It creates a sense of attachment, ensuring players stay connected with the game and its updates.
Online toxicity in gaming communities is a pervasive issue that can significantly impact a game’s success. Professionals in the games industry must understand the consequences of toxicity and implement strategies to combat it effectively. In the end, a positive gaming community is not just good for business; it’s essential for the long-term success of any game.