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MMORPG.com Jaime Skelton uses her Player Perspective column this week to wax poetic about the importance of community in the MMO space.
We play massively multi-player online games. Despite certain trends that seem to show an interest in making MMOs geared more for a single-player experience with a chat room attached, what defines any and all of the hundreds of games in our favorite gaming style isn't the genre, it's the fact that hundreds or thousands of people are attached to our gaming experience. While the choice certainly remains for a player to build a solo experience, MMOs are designed to be for a large amount of players, from chat channels, to groups and raids, to the behemoth that a player economy can become.
When so many players are gathered together for common gaming goals, they form a community. Defining a community can be broad: some lay definitions simply label a group of people with common interests (in this case, the game they are playing) as community, sociology may choose to label a community based on whether or not it is geared for common or self interest, and psychology may insist on emotional connection between individuals to establish community. The difficulty in defining a game's community, therefore, becomes more complex, as it takes up no physical space, no psychological needs, and involves more strangers and cliques than friends.
Read Dissecting Community.