As a college student majoring in Communication, I spend a lot of time learning what to say, what not to say, and how to say it. Although there are countless theories that carefully explain how to communicate effectively, truthfully, I think most of it should be common sense. Yet, I look around gaming communities and find that most of these unspoken "rules" are thrown out.
Gamers are passionate people, and they're amazing for it. However, discussions can get heated and sometimes good ideas end up becoming lost in rants and rage. You see, the great thing about the Internet is that you can be completely anonymous. The bad thing about the Internet is that you can be completely anonymous. It's a double-edged sword. Believing that what they say on the Internet will have no repercussions, people say things that I don't think they would IRL. I call it "keyboard courage." It's so easy to get worked up over something that you love, but it's also important to remember how to make your voice truly count.
- Whether you're talking to a game developer or just a fellow community member, remember that they're people just like you. Good or bad - what you say can resonate for a very long time. Even if you're having a bad day, it's not appropriate or fair to use other people as verbal punching bags. If you wouldn't say something to someone IRL, it's probably not a good idea to say it online.
- Criticism is awesome, but make sure it's valuable. There's a difference between offering helpful feedback and just ranting. To truly offer valuable feedback, you need to state your opinion, back it up, and if you're not happy with something, offer solutions. Even if your solutions don't end up being used, at least you're showing a willingness to be open-minded.
- Be realistic. Keep in mind that everyone has different resources. Some people spend LOADS of money on premium content to obtain the best gear and items. Others don't have that option or choose not to play that way. When it comes to talking with developers, keep in mind behind the scenes timetables and chain of command. "Just do this" or "just do that" may not be as easy as you think it is.
I'm not naive - I know this post probably won't change anything in the grand scheme of things. After all, people develop communication habits over several years and they can certainly be hard to break (that's even if they want to break them at all). Gaming communities will ALWAYS have conflicting personalities, long rants, complaints, and lots and lots of cursing. That's just how it is. The KingsIsle community is one of the better ones, but it's not perfect. No community is. That's why it's also important to hang around the people that you feel comfortable with. COMFORTABLE with, not necessarily agree with. Opening yourself up to other perspectives and new ideas is never a bad thing. It only becomes a problem when it's argumentative. Regardless, I do hope these points come to mind the next time a big controversy rolls around. And trust me; there will be a next time...