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By: meuslix, william dickten
Mar 04 2008 11:31am
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Building Community

 

Lately, over on the fabulous gleemax forums, our friend and proprietor, heath, has started a thread about the decline of the mtgo community, located at http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=997857 . This got me thinking that maybe someone should write an article about HOW to fix the problem, using a few basic techniques that are effective in most any community building effort. I'll try to tweak it up with some examples relevant to MTGO, and i'll lay it out in a nice outlined format for you. Follow these steps, and you'll surely have a community of your own built in no time.

There's basically three steps involved, and i'll be listing them here. Try to follow along.

Step One: Recognizing similarities in the community

This is fairly easy when it comes to online gaming, the community has the game in common. Here on MTGO, we all like to play Magic. That is what holds us together. Your community should all be ready to be activists in making sure that it is able to do that in the manner that pleases it. This is not a hard concept to understand, yet it is fairly difficult to put in practice. A lot of players don't like to draft or play sealed, and a lot don't like to participate in Player Run Events, or even chat casually. These players will need seperate elements of community to keep them involved in the whole, or they will migrate somewhere else they feel more welcomed. They will need something that makes them want to come back and engage the community in their way. Take the following hypothetical example:

Player A is invited to a room (say /join puremtgo for the sake of example.). Player A goes into said room and decides to say hello to the people (his first engagement of the community). He begins talking about how he was drafting the other day and did horribly. He is soon given help on the meta game from the experienced writers here at puremtgo hanging out in the room and is a very happy Player A that chooses to join the chat again at some time in the future, and if given the same results will be a regular.

Take Player B, invited to the same room, yet decides he wants to chat about how much he hates land destruction, at the given time, no one in the room is inclined to agree with him and start talking about how they love land destruction. Player B may or may not decide to rejoin the chat. If he does, and is greeted with the same type of responses over and over, he will most probably choose not to return.

What we recognize from the above example is that Player A and Player B have something in common (they play MTGO), and some things not so much the same. What we can do about, in the next steps.

Step Two: Recognizing differences in the community

Aside from what holds us together, the next most important part of building a succesful and active community is recognizing the differences that the community members have (don't worry, I'll address bridging the gap in the next section). For the sake of consistency let's continue with the Player A / Player B analysis. Player A likes to play limited, and Player B does not. For the sake of discussion, we shall assume that Player B likes to play casually, and Player A does not. We will also assume that Player A has been playing MTGO for a long time, and Player B is fairly new to the game. These are  differences. We can't change one player into the other, but possibly we can find a way for them to find some more common ground other than the fact that they both use the same game client to enjoy the game in different ways. Take the following example:

Player A comes to the chat room and starts talking about his latest PE victory and how much prizes he won and so forth. Player B, who is there giving the room another shot, asks "what is a PE?" This definitely gives away his newbieness to Player A, who proceeds to say so. Player A stays in the room; Player B leaves.

This is an example of differences getting in the way of effective community building. There must be something we can do, right?

Step Three: Bridging the gap by filling common needs

From the previous two examples we can see that any two players you pick will have at least one thing in common, and will most probably have one or more things that are different. The thing that all good community builders realize is that any two people in the chosen community will have more than that same basic thing in common. Be it music tastes, sports fanaticism, love of "The View" (not one of mine, but added for humor), desire to learn more about the game, or simply finding good deals on cards, there WILL be more similarities than make themselves known initially. Your job (if you've read this far, you obviously want to help build a community) as a community leader is to make sure to find those things out, or put people in place that will find them out. For this you may have to fill more needs (we'll use voice chat in the next example). For example:

Player A is in the chat room that i am also a member of, and i'm a regular there. One day he gets on ventrilo and finds out that meuslix is there too. We start talking and I engage him in conversation. MTGO is of course the start of the conversation, but it soon drags away (you can only talk meta so long, right?). Next thing you know we're talking about how we both can't stand it when our wife makes us get off MTGO to go spend "time" with her. He then says he's got to go walk his dogs soon or his wife will be even more mad. I say,  "Oh yeah, what kinda dogz you got?" He responds, "Pitbulls." I talk about my boxers and my brother's pitbulls, and my mom's daschunds and we laugh and he goes and walks his dogs. Soon after, his wife makes him log off MTGO.

The next day, Player B is in the chat and finds out about the voice chat and hops on to see what's up. We start talking about how Counterspell and Stone Rain are really not casual and again, the conversation drags (you can only debate casual so long, right?). Next thing you know we're talking about we can't stand it when our wives make us log off MTGO to go take the trash out. Soon, the conversation gets to everyday stuff and Player B mentions he has to go walk his dogs. Similar exchange as before (with Player A), he has pitbulls, I have boxers, my mom has a weenie dog, we both have nagging wives.  Soon after, his wife makes him log off MTGO.

The next day, while I'm on the voice chat, here comes Player A followed soon after by Player B. Both these guys have found that they have something in common with me outside of MTGO. Player A starts talking about his dogs, Player B starts talking about his nagging wife. I decide to mention to Player B that Player A is also in the group of men with nagging wives that don't like MTGO. They chat it up for a while, exploring similarities in their non-MTGO related lives. Player B soon after says he has to go walk his dogs soon. At this point, I mention to Player B that Player A also has pitbulls. The conversation spirals and the two become buds not based on similar gameplay styles, but based on real life experiences. This is an example of a bridge in the community built by filling a common need (voice chat). Soon we'll see Player B playing Counterspell and Stone Rain and deciding that maybe it's time he tried a PE. Why not, he's in a good community where he can get some help with strategy. He just hopes Player A's wife has to work late.

Conclusion: It takes a leader!

From the previous examples we can see the development of a community at its beginning. We can see the right way to approach it, and we can see the wrong way to approach it. The one thing that we don't need to see is who's behind it. It takes a leader to pull a community together. Someone has to find out where we're going to chat or which forums we're going to use, or even who's voice chat we like the most. I always think it's best to have a leader that engages the community at every oppurtunity, and is genuinely concerned with its continuance and progression. This type of leader will need help as his or her community grows, and he or she should look for like minded people to help him or her out. These people should be actively involved in promoting the services the community has to offer (websites, card discounts, voice chats, draftcap downloads, chat room, whatever it is that is needed in your community) and should use them themselves. It's not a very hard process, it just takes a little dedication and application of three easy steps.

 

Thanks for reading.

6 Comments

by Solice (Unregistered) 70.102.136.132 (not verified) at Wed, 03/12/2008 - 18:35
Solice (Unregistered) 70.102.136.132's picture

Great Article Meuslix!

I agree, community has everything to do with providing an enviroment that allows what you describe to happen.  Great communities find common ground, and discuss things that are not agreed upon without ever losing site of that common ground.

sorry you feel that way by meuslix at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 18:08
meuslix's picture

just because my methods are different from yours, and even though you post anonymously, i think i know who you are, i am in no way trying to hurt anyone with my methods. i just believe that i'm an activist, and i'm going to be active in providing the community with viable options of what to do with their time. simply make your options as or more viable than the ones i offer, and you'll do fine. feel free to email me at meuslix@gmail.com , as this really ain't the place for this.

 

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by SypherSun (Unregistered) 85.146.196.191 (not verified) at Thu, 03/06/2008 - 17:13
SypherSun (Unregistered) 85.146.196.191's picture

Nice article, very true. Also read this classic on magic community building: http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/article/13789.html, by Ben Bleiweis

Two Faced by (Unregistered) 66.177.29.55 (not verified) at Thu, 03/06/2008 - 20:40
 (Unregistered) 66.177.29.55's picture

Funny how you write an article on community, yet at the same time you are hellbent on bring down others.

 Hopefully you enjoy you free credits, this article isn't bad, but coming from you its utter crap.

Hopefully you will practice what your preach and respect others in the community that work just as hard if not harder than you.

by dolemiteX (Unregistered) 72.179.1.5 (not verified) at Tue, 03/04/2008 - 21:18
dolemiteX (Unregistered) 72.179.1.5's picture

I don't get it. What's MTGO?

Great Article. by JoeFiorini (Unregistered) 71.169.183.107 (not verified) at Wed, 03/05/2008 - 11:31
JoeFiorini (Unregistered) 71.169.183.107's picture

I don't think I jave ever seen an article on community like yours. It was a great article.

A person i know once wrote a psychology paper for college, and it was about the differences in communicating between real life and chat rooms. You're article focuses on online only, but is still very good.

I joined MTGO after trying the free trial. I got advice from you guys at this website, and i have gotten so much usefull info about card prices and strategy from you guys. Thanks.

 I am a casual onlinr player,but i like to have a good deck. I am a former Paper magic player, who was quite sucsessfull at one tournament in particular.

 

i play online as: joefiorini

captain of damage inc