New Game+: A sense of community

April 15, 2011

The term “sense of community” is one commonly used by sociologists to focus on the experience of a community. And how does this relate to video games? Every time you play a game online, you are interacting with a community of some sort; the experience may be positive or negative, depending on both the game and the platform. 

Depending on the game, the community involved could either be seen as a positive or negative thing. Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops are known for their great online, but not their great online community. “Why does this matter?,” you may be asking. People still play Black Ops consistently, regardless of other idiots they may be playing with. But what makes people stick around? Clans. If they never found a group of people similar to them, chances are a lot of people would not be playing the game as much as they are, thus reinvigorating the sense of community involved. 

LittleBigPlanet 2 is an example of a game that has an amazing community. The original game stuck around as long as it did because of the creativity of both the developers and the everyday gamers involved. It created a strong sense that people are truly passionate about the game and the creativity it allows them to express. LittleBigPlanet 2 expanded upon it in the best ways possible, adding even more possibilities and creating an even larger community to continue to explore the potential the series has to offer.

LittleBigPlanet 2 isn’t known solely for having great multiplayer, but instead for having a great community of gamers who love to create and share their ideas as well as experience the ideas of others. With any community, you will get a few bad eggs, but they fail to ruin the experience of playing this game with a group of friends or even with random strangers. Exploring the levels, seeing the creativity at work, it’s an experience like no other.

The community involved in that game is what strings it all together. Like your clan in Black Ops, the LBP community as a whole is like one giant gaming family. There are people who help each other create objects and levels as they continue to improve upon their last work. If a level needs improvements or features some major flaws? The creator isn’t flamed, but criticized constructively by their peers. 

Comparing Call of Duty: Black Ops and LittleBigPlanet 2 may seem silly, but it goes to show there are two different worlds of gamers out there. And it has nothing to do with the genre, as I’ve seen many shooters that offer the same great community as a game like LBP2; Tribes 2 comes to mind immediately, as does a game like Team Fortress 2. You can find it in a lot of games, but it seems to be less common than it used to be. 

Why do people keep coming back to MMOs? Why is the original Everquest still being played despite the fact that there are many other more polished and less-dated MMOs on the market? I think you know where I’m going with this. Black Ops may win in popularity, but people won’t be talking about it for nearly as long as they will about LittleBigPlanet 2

inFamous 2, a game that we never thought would have any kind of potential for community building, offers players the ability to create their own missions and share them online. If you play the game while connected to PSN, you’ll be able to see missions created by other people all over the city. It’s hard to say how well it will work, but you can see just how developer Sucker Punch is taking the brilliant idea established by Media Molecule and expanding upon it to work with their game. It’s something that can carry it a long way. 

It’s not about the multiplayer, and it’s not about the amount of modes and levels you have available. It’s about creating a game that allows players to attach to it in some way or another. It’s about filtering out the idiots who go out of their way to annoy and flame from the people who just want to have fun. LittleBigPlanet shows us this, and it allows us to go back to why we play games online in the first place: a proper sense of community.