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Best (and Worst) Gaming Communities

January 13, 2014

Game Informer started a reader discussion about what gaming communities players think are the best, in their experience. I /really/ wish that Game Informer would add a poll – it would make it easier than plowing through a bunch of one-sided comments. Nevertheless I did browse the comments to suss out which gaming communities other players enjoy. A few things struck me as interesting.

The Losers

First, I’ll mention the “Losers”, that is to say the games that are conspicuously absent from the list. None of these are much of a surprise at all, yet these games represent a huge portion of online gamers, and by proxy: gaming communities. So the fact that they aren’t mentioned at all speaks to their lack of positive gaming communities.

League of Legends – or any MOBA. Really, no surprise. I’ll leave it at that.

Counter Strike (and similar military “sim” competitive FPS games) – I’ve actually had some decent CS and shooter experiences online, however in general the communities are just pitiful. They are mostly foul mouthed teenage boys and beer swilling college brats.

World of Warcraft (and /most/ MMOs) – There were a few people that made comments saying “Vanilla WoW was great” and “WoW is the best AND the worst”. I agree with both – Vanilla WoW was very much a different animal (that is long since dead), and the current WoW can definitely be described as one of the best /and/ worst gaming communities… Mostly worst however.

DayZ – I think the idea behind the game is absolutely /brilliant/. However I believe that it is the perfect environment for players to be total dicks to each other. I’ve heard of a few rare situations where random players will work together, however there are far, far more stories of griefers and weirdos.

StarCraft – Yeaaaah. Add the elitist, clique-y attitudes of MMOs, and then pile on the immature, impatient, hateful rage of competitive FPSes and you pretty much have the SC community.

Call of Duty series – While I’m personally a big fan of the series, I’ve got to say that the multiplayer environment is about as bad as it gets in FPSes.

Left4Dead – I have very ambivalent feelings towards L4D multiplayer. Some of my best co-op experiences were playing L4D with close real life friends – either just jamming through a level on normal mode while we chat about stuff, as if we were at a sports bar, /or/ plodding through an Expert Difficulty mode session, planning every boss fight and thinking strategically. Yet, my absolute worst team experiences in gaming were also with L4D – playing 4v4 Versus mode. I’ve never heard so much verbal abuse towards strangers /in my life/ than when I played L4D Versus mode. It was /fucking awful/.  Granted, “Versus” mode isn’t co-op as much as it is Team Deathmatch; nevertheless there’s still a PvE / co-op aspect to it, at least for the Survivor team. Even regular mode co-op was still pretty bad. Most of the players don’t use their mics, those that do are often impatient and verbally abusive, random AFKs are ultra common (which can result in a wipe)… it’s just not fun at all to play. Overall the L4D community is /shit/.

No Surprise Winners

Mass Effect 3 – Being a co-op only game, the spiteful, spawn-camping, face-sitting, tea-bagging attitude that permiates every single Call of Duty match is almost entirely non-existant in ME3 multiplayer. Overall, my player interactions in ME3 was just so much better than any other game that I’ve played on a console so far. Many others felt the same way, apparently.

Borderlands 2 – Another co-op game, so of course the community is going to “better than average”.

TF2 – One of the very few FPSes to get a mention. The laid-back, non-tournament feel of TF2 definitely fosters more of a “screw off and have fun” attitude than most FPSes. Maybe it’s how long and how bouncy 1v1 battles can be – where 1v1 battles feel much more like Tom and Jerry than a “military simulator”. Or maybe it’s the whimsical weapon design and cartoony graphics. Either way – people tend not to take TF2 nearly as seriously as other shooters, so the player community is MUCH better than other FPSes.

City of Heroes – This game received at least a few mentions, and rightfully so. I’ve played the game three different times, the first two were before the Free to Play period at the very end of its life. During those to play sessions, I was part of a few different Super Groups (a guild, basically) – and each one was extremely helpful and friendly. Likewise, playing with random players on /most/ occasions was a warm-and-fuzzy, friendly affair. About 1/4 of the time I’d run into a “pro” player that just wanted to plow through content to level up – those were the jerks of the game – but they weren’t very common. Moreover, with the Sidekick / Mentor system, it wasn’t absolutely necessary to group with random people – it was easy enough to find a Super Group with friendly players that would take you along on their higher level quests, or would help you on your lower level quests. The game was far from flawless – but the community was by far and away the best in any MMO that I’ve ever played. Unfortunately the F2P era ruined the community and atmosphere. As with most games that switch late-in-life to F2P, it created rift between players – the subscribers and the non-subscribers. The subbers became aloof and snotty, and the non-subs were mostly pre-teen WoW washouts that wanted handouts, or just sat in general chat bitching about how the game isn’t like WoW. The game shut down, and the non-subbers moved on to Free Realms or whatever, while the die-hard CoH fans have been holding out for the game server to be emulated – which probably wont’ happen… Unfortunately.

Big Surprise (to me) Winners

Demon / Dark Souls – This is the one series that really blew my mind. Being a mega-ultra-super hard game with multiplayer that I can only describe as unlimited freedom to grief other players, I would expect this game to have some of the WORST communities imaginable. Quite the opposite is true, apparently. Players are respectful, bow to each other before duels to the death, and will even wait for their opponent to finish combat with a deadly monster before engaging them. I can’t even fathom this kind of etiquette manifesting in a vacuum – yet it has, apparently. I’m quite impressed with that.

Halo – Another game (or publisher, really) that surprised me was Bungie and their Halo series. They received quite high praise from numerous players. My experience with multiplayer with console games (including Halo) has been so negative over the years that it has forced me to disable voice chat… But other players feel that Bungie has gone out of their way to foster a positive community of players for their Halo games. Hrm. This gives me a /bit/ more hope for Destiny.

Gears of War – Yet another fairly big surprise. This game was Cliff Bleszinski’s attempt to recreate his experience playing paintball – and single-handedly cursed us with ten years of cover shooters. To me, the game looked to be aimed at the frat-guy crowd, so I assumed that the online community would be something similar to CoD… Apparently not. I didn’t take into account that the game /is/ co-op. <shrug> Maybe I’ll have to give it a try.

Monster Hunter 3 – Huh? I didn’t even know that series had multiplayer – yet this game received more mentions than most other games. I’ll definitely have to keep an eye on the series.

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