“As gaming grew into a mainstream social activity, communities became more transient. There were fewer and fewer spaces—digital or physical—that felt psychologically safe.”
As Popularium co-founder Jennifer Yi embarks on a lifelong quest for the perfect gaming community, she stumbles on the secret sauce for innovation and growth in game development.
Twitch averaged 2.78 million concurrent viewers in 2021, making it one of the most trafficked sites on the internet. Once targeted at hard-core gamers, game streaming platforms have evolved into major mainstream media outlets that scratch a universal itch for connection.
Communities are built and defined by the behavior and personalities of their members, both towards other members of the community and the world in general. Examples of toxic communities abound in gaming, resulting in games losing audience over time and capping the growth of the industry overall. Virtual community platforms often lack incentives for good behavior.
By contrast, once a year, 70,000 people flock to Indianapolis for Gen Con, the world’s largest tabletop gaming convention. Widely known as “the best four days in gaming”, this beloved event welcomes players of all backgrounds and gaming formats to the table for a mad-cap, joyful, and robustly inclusive good time. Gen Con President David Hoppe traces the roots of this inclusive community and discusses what virtual communities can learn from its model.