This topic is not necessarily going to be Destiny related, but I didn’t want it to be a huge wall of text without something pretty to look at. This is a screenshot I took the other night while doing Iron Banner, and you are treated to a planetary screen when you travel between two areas on the same planet. This for example is travelling from one crucible arena on Mercury to another one, something I had never seen before. In any case, that is not what is important today, but instead a discussion that was had yesterday… or at least as functional of a discussion as can be facilitated over twitter. Twitter is a service that is great for drive by commentary, and less for actual deep discussion. There were a handful of us bemoaning which social networks work well and which do not work so well for gaming circles. Which started a thread where we talked about missing forums, which is to say that I don’t think any of us actually miss the forum construct. Instead I think we miss the era in which forums were king. In the time before Facebook, the only reliable means of keeping in touch with your gaming buddies were forums… and I had a string of them over the years. For me they carried me through Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Horizons, City of Heroes… and things didn’t start to change significantly until well into World of Warcraft. Sure we had email, or instant messenger… in even in a few cases private IRC servers… but gaming forums served as this cultural common ground for discussing what was going on in your game of choice or quite literally any off topic subject. Hell it was on a gaming forum that I had my first friend come out to me, and forever changed my perspective on the gay rights movement.
The problem started when the social networks proper started springing up. It became harder and harder to get anyone to log into that forum on a regular basis when they were already used to checking myspace or friendster, or eventually facebook and twitter. During this era however it wasn’t just guild or personal forums that thrived, but also individual company run gaming forums. I remember being deeply connected to the Argent Dawn forums in World of Warcraft, and there are so many people that I still count as great friends today that I met through them. It gave me a window into the other side of the server, and the awesome Horde players that we had as well as the Alliance. In fact this is probably the point where I started championing the cause of tearing down the faction wall because I wanted to play with all of my friends at the same time. During late Wrath of the Lich King and early Cataclysm, Blizzard made a number of significant policy changes… or more so began to crack down on some truly silly things on the forums. It is probably not in small part that this also represents the time in which I began to detach from the game because these forums gave us all a common ground to discuss issues at a server level, rather than just focused entirely on our own internal guild politics. Without the forums as a anchor the game felt so much less important and more inexplicably empty. For a period of time I even ran an unofficial server forum, but the madness of trying to monitor and moderate that became an insane struggle when the damage had already been done.
Over the years it became progressively harder to get players interested in checking the forum, so that after Elder Scrolls Online I simply gave up on trying to make them work. Now there are simply too many locations available to try and sort out where we should check for information. Each group of friends tends to favor a different platform, which means I simply do a bad job of keeping track of any of them. The fragmentation of gaming communities has reached a critical mass, and each individual site hopes to be this island in itself. What I need instead is some service that freely glues all of the information together and lets me view it in the portal of my choice. Right now I am actively trying to keep tabs on the following…
- Google Plus
- Over Half Dozen Slacks
- Over Two Dozen Discords
- A Few Actual Forums
Then there are also services that I don’t actively use… but still have accounts on like Ello and Raptr that I never really found a good use for. Then there are even stranger more diffuse communities on YouTube and Twitch that I still on occasion dip a toe into. Basically just like the MMO gaming world has fragmented from a time when there were essentially two to three active games at a time… the community itself has exploded into a million tiny niches. I guess I simply miss the era when it felt like we were all looking at the same things, and reading the same commentary. Forums served this key role in the development of me as a blogger, and I feel like most of us started our careers as “wall of text” posters somewhere out there. I was known for extremely long winded discussions where I essentially worked out my own thoughts in text form much like I do on a daily basis here. The end result of yesterdays discussion was to plant another flag in the ground, and create another place to have discussion. I don’t mean it to sound like that is a bad thing, I just hope that it is something I can remember to check in on because there are so many other places to be checking in on as well. I am not even going to go into the madness of the blogs I read or the fact that I am trying to keep tabs on around three dozen reddits. I am old… and this is just a post of me saying that I miss things being simpler.