Friday, June 26, 2015

The Fallacy With Serious Gaming Groups

Some random events have occurred recently that made me think about video games and video game groups and their success.

Generally speaking it seems gaming groups fall into 2 major categories. There are the very large groups which can number in the thousands and the very small tightly nit groups that number always under a few hundred.

Larger group dynamics are very interesting but for the interest of time and article length I am only going to look at smaller groups. In particular the topic of seriousness. You see smaller groups seem to fall into 2 main camps as well you have  the groups that seem to be very tight nit that are more or less focused on the social aspects then you have the groups that are focused on succeeding and winning.

The first group that likes to socialize generally tend to be more varied. They are harder to define but generally speaking you see a lot of inner group interaction and very flat structure and hierarchy in the group itself. Everyone tends to know everyone and the environment is very relaxed.

The second group tends to be much easier to define groups that are focused on winning tend to artificially enforce structure and hierarchy. They may have their own internal version of a chain of command. They want to appear "serious" to the outside world. They want fame.

For a second let's look at the silliness of the idea of serious gaming. At it's core gaming you do for fun sure there are those that are pro gamers at which point gaming is work for them. For most players where gaming is something you do in your leisure time you do it because you enjoy it. So what's the problem most people enjoy winning right? Well the inherent problem isn't winning it's all the layers that were put up in order to guarantee a win or further improve a win. All the bureaucratic red tape you hated at work is now in your game. This is a draining experience a lot of us go into our games to recharge to get away from thinking of work and if one group isn't offering that well why stay?

The fallacy of serious gaming groups I find is that they are awesome and everyone wants to be part of them. Another fallacy is that they manage to stay together for a long time. The reality I think from what I've observed is that serious gaming groups are boring and bureaucratic and lack the organic friendships that will form when everyone's allowed to be themselves and serious gaming groups will burn out rapidly since it's built on the foundation of the game and not the people within the group. A gaming guild or clan that is based on the game first lives as long as the game is relevant and fun they also never survive any hiatus since there's always something newer and shinier to play. However gaming groups that are at it's core about the people in them build strong friendships and bonds that cannot be broken and often carry through even after the death of the initial game.

So why is it you see these groups or guilds that are in fact super effective in game? I think like anything effectiveness and likelihood of winning competitive games is due to time spent practicing more than anything else. The more time you spend the better you are. A corollary is time spent practicing with your team the longer you and your team play together the more you're practicing and the better you will be as a team. So ironically in order to get better as a team the focus should be to make the interpersonal relationships better inside the team rather than focus on the actual skills individuals need to learn.

So in my opinion other than professional teams gaming groups and clans that do very well generally don't dwell on winning they dwell on interpersonal relationships and having fun winning will naturally happen with practice and experience. In an environment where practicing is optional ultimately people will practice more if there's more reason to come back and socializing is a large incentivizing device. So next time you try and bring a lot of bureaucracy and start building your gaming clan with military structure think about what that mean to your members you may just be losing the best and brightest within a few weeks.