Communities and Online Gaming

Online gaming communities have made it easier for people to communicate and form friendships.

Online gaming communities have made it easier for people to communicate and form friendships in a space where they feel more comfortable as they usually share things in common. However, as online gaming has become more mainstream, some communities have attracted a negative stigma around them and their player base.


Online gaming has changed the way we interact with people daily. Our lives have been changed since the introduction of social media, gaming and online communities. Different online gaming communities have significantly changed the way you present your online identity. Gaming was originally seen as a hobby; it was something you would do in your spare time or call people you knew over to enjoy with you, but in the beginning, playing game was seen as anti-social behaviour, and there was great concern that kids and teenagers would replace socialisation of going outside and just spending time with friends and family. Since the emergence online gaming people have abandoned the old model of single-player games and are just more focused on enjoying games that they can share with others by having social interactions only through games and in such forming online communities. While this has benefited some people, it has negatively affected others. The type of online community you join also playing a big role in how you will present yourself through your persona. Different types and styles of games will also impact this, and this has been a heavily debated topic ever since the introduction of games. Online personas can vary greatly from games like World of Warcraft to Fortnite. I will go into detail to discuss what some of the negatives and positives of online communities and go into details on why people put effort into creating an online persona.

Marketing and the Negative Media Perception.

While community is important in today’s gaming culture, it has taken some time to evolve and build up to what it is now. Gaming was originally marketed at the individual player and as such most of the games were geared towards single players. As time went on and gaming game developers started creating games that multiple people could enjoy together. While multiplayer games gained a huge popularity, it required gathering all the people together in one place to enjoy the game. Generally, this required for you to know the people. Playing these types of games always drew the attention as there has always been a negative stigma attached to certain styles of game such as First-Person Shooters, the media has always made the connection between violence and playing violent video games especially after a big event happens such as a mass shooting, this was a huge debate when the Columbine High School massacre happened back in 1999 and every subsequent one after. While this has been studied extensively, studies have shown that extremely violent game may increase aggression, but this does not mean this aggression will be carried over to real-world scenarios and that these incidents are the rare exception.

In recent times certain games have really gained media attention for just exploding into the spotlight a great example of this is the game Fortnite, the game had been out for a few years but had a fairly small player base; eventually, it started to gain traction and exploded onto the market quickly rising and reading over 250million players at its peak. Fortnite is generally a very kid-friendly game with cartoon-like graphics and low depictions of violence, but this did not stop the media talking about the negative impact the game would have to children.

Forming Bonds Online.

Some communities differ greatly from others, for example, certain MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. This type of game promotes working together to clear quests and objectives, some of the quests also take quite a while to complete in upwards of 8 hours so having people you’re comfortable with will make the gameplay more enjoyable. Most people that play these styles of games typically fall into one of the four categories Role Players, Gamers, Virtuals and Skeptics. Each has their own reason for playing the game, but the Virtuals are “those interested either in online meetings with virtual partners and in chatting with them or in development of virtual environments’’ (Cole & Griffiths, 2007, p.) These people were playing for the sole purpose of making meaningful relationships with others. It was shown that these people view the relationships made online nearly as meaningful as. “Approximately three-quarters of both males (76.2%) and females (74.7%) said they had made good friends within the game’’ (Cole & Griffiths, 2007) from these good friends majority of them would meet with them in real life. These friendships are easily made in these types of games like World of Warcraft because it allows the players to form groups together that are often called clans. These groups can range from a few members all the way into the thousands. We can further separate these groups into two categories community and competitive. The community-style groups are the ones where “players interact and communicate with each other to develop an equal and harmonious community consciousness. The players then have a sense of belonging to the virtual community and members” (Chuang, 2020, p. 4). It is usually through these types of games where people will create those meaningful relationships and be more willing to meet with them in person. This does not necessarily mean that you would need to form a clan to create a meaningful relationship. Other styles of games, such as First-Person Shooters can still accomplish without the formation of close communities. Unlike World of Warcraft where most of the interaction will take place during the gameplay games like Call of Duty the majority of the interactions in-game will be focused on actually winning the match while bonding with that person would be left to the lobby in between the matches themself.

Creating your online persona.

Many modern games will allow for player customisation; this means when creating an account, the user will have the option of making their in-game avatar look exactly how they want. This gives the player an emotional connection to the avatar they have created and  ” many studies have shown that by creating an attachment between the player and the avatar is a key component to a player continuing to play the game.”(Manocha, 2017, p. 2). This usually leads to the avatar becoming an extension of the player themself “thus creating a space where the player’s real-life fault does not apply, whether it be physical disabilities, or mental obstacles.”(Manocha, 2017, p. 3). This allows the player to feel more comfortable with the game and gives them something to work towards. In games like World of Warcraft, as the player progresses throughout the world, they level up, and with that, they gain new skills, abilities and equipment. Because of this, it feels like the actual player has achieved something through their avatar and gives them a sense of belonging to the game.

Negative Communities.

While many people have made meaning connections by playing online games, some communities have become increasingly negative and have put unneeded stress on its player base. Certain types of MMORPGs will have special events that would time-sensitive these sort of events “Often in-game challenges must be completed by all team members, and it is worth considering whether a degree of cyber peer-pressure to be “awake and available” in order to complete team tasks is present.” (Scott & Porter-Armstrong, 2013, p. 5). Players that could not attend these events would be criticised by other members of the clan as it could impact the whole team receiving the awards. This can lead to the negative wellbeing of players as they are constantly forced to perform to the level expected of the other members or else will be removed from the clan. This is not limited to a game that involves groups or teams. Single-player games also have their negative issues. If you’re not a top-level player, the chances are you will have somebody messaging you after the match telling you how much of a total life failure you are and that you shouldn’t even be playing. This also happens even if you win the matches, the other players will feel the need to belittle you. Players do not always start off with these negative emotions, but they develop them to try and fit into the communities and get a sense of belonging. One of the main reason people feel the need to be negative is that these communities provide anonymity to the player. Players within these communities will not be using their real-life details but instead will come up with a new name or person and as such “The offending players may feel they have free range to do what they like in the game world without any real-world consequences.”  (McQuarters,  2013, p 43). Because of this disconnection, they feel to the real world, and it does not feel like they are doing any harm.

Some companies take communities very seriously such as Microsoft which have issued a Community standards document that outlines the sort of behaviour, they expect of people playing on their network.


In conclusion, many people have benefited from the formation of these online communities; it has allowed many players to escape their reality by creating an online persona that they feel comfortable with and is basically an extension of themself. Playing games that allows that person to relax and unwind especially and have a sense of achievement as they progress throughout the game. It also proved the social interaction that some people might struggle with finding in real life as the communities in certain games are extremely welcoming due to many of the players being likeminded and wanting a similar experience. As good as some of these communities are there will always be negatives and certain individuals that feel the need feel the need to belittle and put down other players just due to the fact they feel like they will never receive any consequences for their actions. The media perception of certain games will not change, no matter how good the community is as an overall it only takes a few wrong moves by some players to give that whole group of people a bad stigma which they will never be able to get rid of.


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Chuang, Y. (2020). Promoting Consumer Engagement in Online Communities through Virtual       Experience and Social Identity. Sustainability12(3), 855.  

Ducheneaut, N., Yee, N., Nickell, E., & Moore, R. (2007). The life and death of online gaming communities. Proceedings Of The SIGCHI Conference On Human Factors In Computing Systems – CHI ’07.

Griffiths, M. (2003). Internet Gambling: Issues, Concerns, and Recommendations. 
Cyberpsychology & Behavior6(6), 557-568.

Manocha, U. (2017). MMORPGs and Their Effect on Players. Presentation, San Jose State s       University.

Matthew McQuarters, G. (2013). The Social Relations and Interactions of a First Person Shooters (FPS) (Masters). The University of Waikato.

Seay, A., Jerome, W., Lee, K., & Kraut, R. (2004). Project massive. 
Extended Abstracts Of The 2004 Conference On Human Factors And Computing Systems – CHI ’04.

Scott, J., & Porter-Armstrong, A. (2013). Impact of Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games upon               the Psychosocial Wellbeing of Adolescents and Young Adults: Reviewing the a          Evidence. Psychiatry Journal2013, 1-8.

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14 replies on “Online gaming communities have made it easier for people to communicate and form friendships.”

Hey Zlatan!
I liked that you discussed multiple MMORPGs in your paper, their genres, and the types of connections made through the games. Your points in your paper were really interesting.
I enjoyed seeing the positive and negative sides of your argument. It was great how you mentioned them both!
It would have been nice to see more about the positive connections, and maybe a case study/example of this.
What company do you think has the strictest community standards?

Hi Anne,
I’m glad you enjoyed my paper!
I had so much material that I had to cut it down somewhere so it would be easy to create a small case study of the positive connections.
That’s a tough question to answer as many communities have struck standard, but not all of them are adequately upheld.

Hi Zlatan

Thank you for your paper!

That’s terrible that people send such negative feedback to someone if they do not complete a WoW task or attend an event. The peer-pressure that is put on players is immense and it seems that once they’re in a clan it would be very hard to get out so they’d always feel the need to live up to the expectations of others, hence people would be playing continuously to ensure that they have EXCEEDED expectations (not just met them!). I supposed this is one way addiction starts. Or when someone is cut out from the clan, I imagine this would be extremely shocking and traumatic to someone who is addicted, to be suddenly left with nothing!

Hi Indre,
It really has become a severe problem, especially for those people that have dedicated a lot of time into a specific game and or community, so losing the connection they have to clan can be devastating.
Some people do also push themself to try and break into the competitive scene, but that’s another topic.

Hi Zlatan, great paper. It seems in this stream, at least for me so far, everyone is focusing on the positive connections between communities and online games so its great to see someone take a look at the negative side too. The link media makes between violence and video games is ripe for examination and I think you tackle it well. You also talk about negativity, toxicity, forming in video game communities. What do you think, if anything, the connection is between the media’s perception of toxic video game communities and video game violence? Again, great work.

Hi James,

Glad you enjoyed the different perspective compared to the other streams. The media would pick up on the toxic communities. It would be easy for them to link a community that shows complete disrespect and aggression to each other to a violent video game when, in reality, a community can be toxic but the game its self show no violence at all. It seems like its much more natural for the media to make the connection between violence and toxic communities when, in reality, that’s not always the case.

Hi Zlatan,
Gaming is an unknown to me, so your title stood out immediately. I enjoyed the paper.
It’s unfortunate to read about stress impacting players as it takes away from the original intention of the game. Do you think this kind of behaviour will continue if more companies issue standards or that anonymity will override? Or perhaps they will lead to regulations put on these types of communities?
Thanks again,

Hi Charlotte,

I’m glad this was a new topic for you, and hopefully it gave you some more insight into gaming and communities.
Honestly, companies can try and implement stricter rules and harsher punishments, but for the people that just want to cause havoc, this won’t change a thing.
Someone that wants to stir the pot will keep creating new accounts and won’t be bothered if their account gets banned. Although people that have dedicated a lot of time into a specific community would be more conscious about what they say to avoid getting banned as this could be a game that they have dedicated hundreds of hours into.

Hi Zlatan,
It did – as an outsider to the world of gaming, I found your paper very insightful. In particular, reading about ‘virtuals’ who seek meaningful relationships through gaming emphasised the transition that gaming has gone through and the strong sense of community it has today.
Thanks again,

Hi Zlatan,
I find it interesting the ways in which social technologies continue to affect how we interact daily. As you said that gaming has shifted from single player to local multiplayer, and now to worldwide, almost instantaneous interactions on scales previously unfathomable through MMOs. Many game developers strongly focus on these multiplayer interactions as a strong community base keeps the game and any others relevant and profitable. It is apparent that this is mutually beneficial to the publisher for that reason, and also the player base for a strong sense of community and socialisation of commonality. I have seen the argument you mention many a time, that of video games causing violence. You mention that violent games can cause aggression. Do you think that the link between the two is causation or correlation? I mean, who is to say that those shooters didn’t simply enjoy the video games for the violence because they were already a violent person?
I read an article the other day about a very good 9 year old Fortnite player was banned from playing in competitions for 4 years as the age restriction is 13. What are your thoughts on this and similar age restrictions for video games? Would the targeted audience and average player base be much older that this?
Thanks for your interesting article Zlatan, I really enjoyed reading it!

Hi Michael,

You have an excellent point about the aggression and violence. This is something that would need to be tracked and document over a long period for us to get a concrete answer. Although some could argue that the disconnection felt while playing the video game could carry into real life so the person might not feel remorse as it is not “real” for them.
Restrictions of that type makes sense, and competitive gaming requires the person to dedicate so much of their day so that you can stay on top, and someone whos only nine that hasn’t had the chance to develop shouldn’t be trying to break into the competitive scene.

Hi Zlatan,

Very interesting topic, great work on your paper.

I liked your point about how multiplayer games before the emergence of easily accessible internet required everybody to be physically near each other in a ‘LAN party’ setting. I also liked how you explained the negative portrayal of shooter games in media decreased the reputation gamers had, even though there is no substantial proof that violent video games are the cause of real-world violent actions.

The ability to form bonds online is a crucially important part of what makes online communities beneficial to all that is involved. Do you agree that the ability to chat or group with others to form a bond is crucial to the online experience?

The anonymity that comes from an online identity is extremely important for those that may be socially inept or have mental health issues. These people struggle to socially interact with others in the real-world but can thrive in an online setting. While this anonymity is a boon for some, for others it can be curse. Cyber-bullying provides anonymity to the bully that is not possible in the real-world. This means they can say horrible things to others while sitting safely behind their computer or phone screen. While I think the anonymity provided by being online is a net positive overall, are there enough systems available on these online platforms that can assist in preventing horrible things like cyber-bullying from getting out of control?

Thanks, Stuart.

Hey Zlatan,

I like that you touched on how gaming was initially seen as an “anti-social behavior” whereas in the current day, it is seen as an inclusive and cooperative experience. I think that the development of games that feature “couch co-op” gameplay was a large factor in this, would you agree?

I would have liked to see you touch on online communities from the perspective of a First-Person Shooter in more detail. I’m personally more of a fan of FPS games than MMOs so a more expansive look of gaming communities outside of the MMO genre would have been interesting to see. Do you think that MMOs are the games that are the most receptive to a positive online gaming community environment? Why would these be more efficient than another genre, like an FPS game.

Overall, I loved reading your paper, was a pleasure the entire way through.


Hi Zlatan

Well done on this piece! Friendships forming around online gaming communities is something that I have personally experienced a lot throughout my life and I found this piece to be very accurate. I also liked your take on the negative reputation that certain player bases receive based on how a community is perceived, over all a really well written and presented piece!

Regards Jacob.

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