About Tom


Hi. I'm an author, tech theorist, broadcaster and geek with a passion for exploring video games, educational technology, and the knottier aspects of human-machine interactions. I've written a number of books on digital culture, drink a lot of coffee, and tweet at @TomChatfield.

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Comments & conversations

Tom Chatfield
Posted over 1 year ago
Community Organization and Impact in Online Games
I think this is a great topic, and would like to suggest the importance of grounding it in larger conversations about communities, rather than implicitly treating games as so exceptional that they need to be addressed from scratch. We already have plenty of research about the generic qualities of many successful communities, in terms of human capital, cohesion and mutual acceptance; and plenty of research about what facilitates these virtues in different kinds of digital environments (how trolling is handled; how shared standards and aspirations are developed and enshrined, or not; how 'virtue' is rewarded). I suspect that the important business of addressing precisely what happens within player communities will be best-rooted in these general principles - and in not simply treating games as implacable engines determining certain behaviors. As to how far these virtues may be detachable from the context of a game - and enforceable or enhanceable by external framing - I don't know. But I do think it's interesting to compare, for example, efforts to reward positive community-enhancing behavior (and penalize trolling) in the "meta" aspects of games like League of Legends - and how far such efforts come up against limitations embodied in game mechanics themselves. It depends in part how you define community, of course. Some of the most enhancing gaming experiences I've had have been courtesy of the small "communities" of four or five close friends playing a great game at the same time as me, and the way in which we've dissected its mechanics, bonded, and used play as a bridge to other interactions. Perhaps we need to categorize communities as well as games - by size, by scope and cohesion - if we want to have the best possible conversation here?