Why community is important to me
The community I’m talking about here is the LotRO community but it doesn’t have to be game specific. It just happens to be so here.
I used to read the LotRO forums ALL THE TIME! I knew the posters and enjoyed reading their thoughts on the game, their experiences and their views on what should or shouldn’t happen next. If you were in game and looking for information on this or that it took me seconds to pull a post and direct you to it as the forums were, at the time, part of my virtual home. I don’t remember what happened exactly but there came a point where they took a severe turn and the negativity was astounding. It was so bad and hateful it led to me taking a month or two off from playing LotRO period. When I decided my break was over and I wanted to come back I made a decision. I’d not read every post on the forums. Ever again. I tried to keep up with important stuff and would skim here and there but the nay-sayers were still out in force so I went from checking on a regular basis to only visiting when I had to, when I was stuck and needing help with something or if I wanted to know others opinions on bits I found striking.
I was in a kinship, well, leading a kinship and had plenty of people to talk to in game. Something was missing though, a part of the overall experience I’d found was more vital than I’d previously thought. I missed the forums (not the negativity mind you) as it felt like a connection beyond just the pixels on my screen. It was around this time that I stumbled onto the blog A Casual Stroll to Mordor. Here were people putting their experiences and thoughts online about a game I played, too. It was magical and I found so many other blogs where my fellow LotRO players were talking about the game we loved. These blogs and podcasts, the stories and commentors all sharing experiences and viewpoints filled the community void I was missing!
There are times when things get negative and I have to call myself out for that first. We don’t always agree with the direction the game or systems appear to be going in and can get quite vocal about it. The majority of posts and comments I’ve read, however, aren’t negative. They’ve made me feel connected again, part of the community in some way and I value these people for that. When I mention, for instance, Merric and Goldenstar at home, my husband will sometimes say ‘Baby Hobbit’s parents?’ because I talk to him about the community a lot. It’s important to me, they’re important, an integral part of the overall gaming experience for me. That’s mostly who my Twitter buddies are: gamers and a lot of them LotRO gamers.
I just can’t imagine playing LotRO without having access to such a wonderful community of passionate, intelligent and funny folks to connect to. I did the beta for a metaverse ‘game’ (wasn’t really a game) called There. The community around There was full of wonderful people and made my experience in There an awesome one. The Sims community on Usenet (way back in the day) were absolutely my online family for many years. We laughed together, cried together, cheered each other on and fought like cats and dogs. We were a family and, here again, made playing the game so much more.
Sometimes the interactions do spill over into real life. A friend of mine from the test server in ToonTown sent me a book on the Green River killer because she knew I hadn’t read that one yet. I have decorative dish towels hanging on my oven door from a LotRO friend. A buddy from the Sims community came to visit me in real life several times. She has a son about the same age as my oldest and we bonded over lots of like-interests. Another community friend fell on hard times when her husband had a heart attack. We came together and paid her bills so her husband could take the time he needed to recover without them losing their lights. Or their house. When a fellow gamer and friend heard my oldest was having a baby, she met up with my husband (he’s an OTR driver and travels a LOT) and gave him a bunch of baby clothes and items to help out. This was months ago and last I heard, her son still remembers the horn on my husband’s truck. The people who say gamers are antisocials who don’t want to be positive parts of society have no idea what they’re on about. If that were true things like The Fellowship Walk would *never* happen. We do care and we care deeply because we’re not just pixels on a screen.
I’d be lost or, at least, rather lonely without my gaming communities. I’ll never go to a con (I’m positive I’d come home sick as a dog) and will most likely never meet many of them in person but I still consider them a vital part of my online family. I don’t feel like an ‘outcast’ so to speak, anymore, for being a mom who games. I don’t even feel the need to defend myself anymore as I’ve found a wonderful group of like-minded people who’ve made me feel a part of something greater. And I thank each and every one of you for that.