One of the biggest challenges of being part of a global gamer community based on social networks is existing in such a huge ‘hive-mind’ without losing your identity.
Definition of hive-mind in this context: The majority opinion of the influencers in my social graph. The hive-mind that I experience is almost certainly not the hive-mind that you experience since you and I follow a different set of individuals. I don’t mean hive-mind in a negative context, by the way.
For me personally, I find it can be frustrating when I don’t “get it” when it comes to a particular game. A couple of recent examples: Guild Wars 2 and Diablo 3. People who I know, respect, and even look up to are ecstatic about these titles and their enthusiasm is infectious as heck. They get me super excited about these games.
But the excitement dies as soon as I start playing. Now don’t get me wrong, I liked what I saw of Guild Wars 2 during the beta weekend, and I like Diablo 3 well enough, but I’m not feeling the passion that the hive-mind is feeling. I don’t find myself dying to play them while I’m at work, for instance. I certainly don’t feel the urge to cheerlead for them. They’re good games but I don’t love them. I want to. I want to be as excited about these titles as my friends are. It’s fun being in love with a shiny new computer game!
[Backdoor clause: I reserve the right to change my mind about GW2 once I play it more. LOL]
But love is fickle and you can’t make yourself love a game. The best you can do is try to open yourself up to it’s possibilities and see if it can win you over.
But too often we don’t do that. Instead, we give in to the temptation to try to ‘correct’ the hive-mind. While I think to some extent this is a natural tendency (we want our friends to have the most fun possible and in our opinion the games they’re playing aren’t the most fun ones out there) it almost never leads to a positive outcome because our technique is flawed. Our friends love their game. 90% of the time [I made that number up] pointing out its flaws is just going to annoy them (and some of what you see as flaws they’ll see as great features).
(Think of this in terms of people. Your best friend just fell head-over-heels in love with someone who is really cheap. You point out how awful it is that your friend’s new love regularly stiffs the server at your favorite restaurant and it’s making your gang unwelcome at the local hangout. 9 times out of 10 your friend will find an excuse for his/her new beloved’s behavior and if you push the issue, they’re just going to get mad at you. They’re in love! They aren’t looking for reasons not to be!)
For me, and for plenty of others (whether they realize it or not), it’s a constant struggle to “Game and let game.” on social networks.
It’s OK that I don’t love Diablo 3 or Guild Wars 2. Yes, it’s a little sad that I can’t join in on the constant delight that my friends are experiencing, but game-love is fleeting and by the time the dog days of summer hit the hive-mind will have moved on to something else and maybe I, too, will love the new discovery.
I’m going to try and adopt “Game and Let Game” as my new motto. I will continue to extol the virtues of the games that I love on social networks, but I’m going to try to refrain from pointing out the obvious (to me anyway) flaws in the games my friends love.
Oh, and just to be clear, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t talk about a game’s flaws. I’m really speaking to context. I’ll write a blog post explaining what I find missing in Diablo 3, sure. But I won’t jump into a thread on G+ where a bunch of people are sharing the delight they’re finding with the game in order to point out flaws. Let them enjoy the game they clearly love. If they want to read my criticisms, have it be their choice. Don’t shove it in their faces.
I’m hoping if I adopt this new philosophy it’ll make my social graph a tiny bit more pleasant for everyone, including myself. (I’m no altruist!) And maybe, just maybe, others will pick up on the better karma and kick it forward to others.