alright... for all you guys the stripping story is in this post. : P
That ever elusive Holy Grail that game designers greatly desire. If you build and foster a strong community, those players will remain in your game for the long haul. A great community also generates good vibes about your game on social media sites. Some will create web pages dedicated to your game.
So, what aspect of the female psyche applies to community, and how do developers appeal to it?
Men tend to be loners (not social butterflies), the massive 2,000 lb. bull on the perimeter protecting the herd. But its women who are social creatures. So if you want a great community, look no further than your female population.
Here are a few examples from various games that I've played and where the developers missed an opportunity to build community:
I knew a girl who occasionally appeared in the game. She never left town square, never went adventuring or exploring.
Of all the myriad number of available skills she trained and mastered only one, SEWING. That's all she did. You see, in that game all clothing deteriorates with time, and it was prohibitively expensive to take them to a specific NPC to have them mended.
She charged only 1 coin to repair any clothing item.
To her, what was more important than anything else was the social interaction. Chatting with old friends and meeting new folk were her delight. She loved talking to people and hearing the latest news. When she appeared word spread like wildfire and players would line up with clothes that needed repair. All of them were grateful for her kindness and invaluable service.
I secretly envied her.
What the developers missed-
Not everyone wants to be "The Hero". Many just want to do simple things well. Some are lonely and only want to chat. The developers should have designed simple merchant stalls where players could open a small business, earn some pocket change, and generally interact with people.
How it can be done. A player submits a proposed business. When approved, the player goes into town square and is able to make a small stall appear with his/her "wares". If the player leaves town square or logs out, the stall disappears.
How interesting would it be to wander into town square and see it filled, not with NPCs, but real folk selling modest wares?
For the really sneaky developers, you could slip in a GM-controlled merchant and have him/her drop juicy tidbits of rumors and information, then sit back and watch the feathers fly.
One world I was in had dozens of picnic tables and park benches scattered throughout the world, taverns filled with tables and chairs. Not a single one could be sat on because they never bothered to make the chairs and benches "sit-able". How dumb is that?
Such a simple request, the ability to sit down. It's been asked for for a number of years. Many players, after a long day of questing and fighting, simply desired to rest in a local tavern, kick back with their favorite brew, and just chill with friends. What a great opportunity for players to socialize!
The developers had lame excuses why it couldn't be done, more important things to do, basically blew it off.
What the developers missed-
The point here is that to build community you must provide places (parks/taverns/merchant shops) and opportunities (events/holidays) for people to socialize. Remember, women are social creatures. We will congregate in those areas. I dare say that socializing is more important than the Next Big Thing™ you're working on.
My elf character used to roam through the wood to a particular lonely and lovely spot where I would role-play swimming nude (you couldn't really get nekkid as the avatar had a starter set of clothing that couldn't be removed). The area even made a satisfying splashy sound as you walked through the water. It was not only fun but also part of my character, and not so unusual for an elf to go 'au natural'. Elves are, after all, creatures of the forest.
I suspected I was being watched (server console?).
note: in this particular game, the developers were also game masters. They could spawn monsters, spawn NPCs that could talk to you, spawn monsters that could talk to you, they had complete control.
As I disrobed and splashed about I could almost "feel" someone watching. But I couldn't prove it. So I didn't tell anybody and kept my secret place, a secret. When I needed some "alone time" I'd visit my secret place and act out my stripping and bathing ritual.
Sure enough, some time later when a new area was added it included a lake with a sign that read, "No Skinny Dipping!"
What the developers missed-
Sadly, real life can be cruel, very very cruel. All of us, at some time in our lives, have gone through a "dark night of the soul". Sometimes players sign-on to escape life for a bit and want or need to be alone. Or someone is hurting emotionally and you need a place where you can listen to them.
It should be a safe place where one's spirit is refreshed, visually beautiful and filled with the sound of living waters or gentle raindrops, trees and flowers, songbirds or crickets.
"We make games for people to have fun in. We're not in the Mental Health business."
-sigh- *shakes head*
Many people don't have anyone they can turn to, especially in this digital age. The only people they may know, outside of immediate family, is their online friends. Should we turn a deaf ear to them and say, "Hey, I'm here to have fun, not listen to your problems."
I've lost count the number of times, in game, when someone was hurting and needed to be consoled or just listened to, both male and female.
How does this build community?
Make a few special places in the world where they can feel safe, they feel accepted. They are much more than a monthly payment. We accept you, warts & all, as a friend, companion, party member, and a valuable and irreplaceable living breathing denizen of this world. *hug*
Wouldn't that keep you coming back?
Game developers, you can have a subtle yet positive impact on many players' lives. You know in your heart this is right.
Do it. Please.
Can I get a "Amen, Sister!" ?