So you’ve found an MMO you like. You’re thankful that it exists. It’s fun, it caters to your personal tastes, and it may not be perfect, but at the end of the day everyone has to pick a place that’s home and you’ve found one. And that’s great. I’ve written multiple times about being thankful for things in games, and that’s something to be thankful for right there, even if you prefer to think that you’re not so much in the right game as in the right now game.
Here’s a question, though: How do you show your thanks?
I’m not talking about supporting the game’s developers financially, since that’s presumably happening anyway (and frankly, that’s kind of a back-and-forth relationship anyhow). How do you show your thanks for the game in a way that makes stuff better? It just so happens that I’ve got some suggestions about that. Ten of them, even. Funny old world, ain’t it?
1. Help a new player
There is an unwritten rule in the Final Fantasy XIV community: protect sprouts. New players get a little sprout icon, and the majority of the community gets very protective around these new players just because new players are the beating heart of every game. They’re the new explorers, people just on the cusp of getting into your favorite game.
So help them out. Explain tactics. Offer to help them with runs. Offer to show them good places to go. In fact, why not go the extra mile here and…
2. Craft starter stuff
MMOs with a stable population often wind up with a lot of people at the level cap who have no need of anything related to leveling. This makes it a bit harder to get started, especially if you’re a new player looking at the auction house for gear and seeing nothing but high-level things to equip in some insane number of levels.
Forget that. Craft the cheap starter stuff and put it up for sale for level 5 players, and price it cheap and affordable. This isn’t about making money; it’s about making sure that these players have stuff to use! Spread the love around.
3. Give things away
If you’ve been playing a game long enough, it’s entirely possible that you have what I refer to as “stupid wealth.” This is the state in which you are not only rich in materials and money, but you are rich in a way you will never be able to realistically use. You have rare materials, cosmetic rewards, and the like. These things are in your inventory, but you will absolutely never need them and you have more than you could ever use.
So give them away.
Find new players and give them currency for no reason. Ask if anyone needs certain crafting resources and just hand them over. Even dropping things in a guild bank when you aren’t required to can be helpful. Don’t hoard things; let others have access to them.
4. Help community events
Maybe you don’t have tons of materials or just don’t want to give in-game items away. That’s fine, because there’s something else you can give away: time. You are no doubt aware of the cool events that your community puts on, and most of those are usually organized by volunteers who want to make things neat for everyone.
So be one of those volunteers. Heck, if there’s a neat event you want to see that isn’t being held? Kick it off. Give players a place to congregate and gather. Maybe it’s a roleplaying event, maybe it’s just an absurd fun run. Help your community do fun stuff.
5. Spread awareness (appropriately)
Showing up in a thread about Guild Wars 2 to talk about how great The Elder Scrolls Online is and how everyone who plays GW2 is a stupid baby fart? That is not helpful. What is helpful is recommending the game to your friends and people asking for suggestions, and so forth. Make posts about the game in social media and on communities. Keep things active, you know?
6. Boost community outreach
This is kind of an extension of helping community events and possibly creating new ones, but it extends in a wider sense. If your game has some kind of charity thing? Spread awareness of it. Support it. But even beyond that, you should be sharing the stories of the way that the game and its community has helped you and welcomed you, and helping others to feel welcomed into the game as well.
Community outreach is complex, and it can often be time-intensive to help people feel pulled into a game and encouraged. But it’s a good way to make the game about more than just, well, the game. Life doesn’t stop at the loot drop.
7. Write guides
You might not have a whole lot of money in-game or a whole lot of time to spend organizing events. But can you share your knowledge? Because sometimes that’s even more valuable. Sometimes someone knows that people like this game and find interesting stuff in the early levels, but the idea of how to get past a certain point is just… unapproachable. The build mechanics aren’t clearly explained, how to gear up is unclear, and so forth.
Guides are sometimes derided as unnecessary, and sometimes MMO concepts seem to be so self-explanatory that no one could need assistance understanding things. But then, just because it’s self-explanatory to you doesn’t mean that it’s self-explanatory to everyone else. So give it a shot.
8. Share positive memes
Look, one of the things I love about the FFXIV community is that it doesn’t start and stop with the game; it includes jokes about things like daddy tier lists or communal chants of “la-HEE” and “SCREE” with the most recent expansion. And that’s fun, and silly, and a bonding experience. Creating and sharing these memes itself helps with the game.
Mean-spirited memes can often make a game seem more elitist, less welcoming, less fun to play. But the fun stuff that celebrates your game’s weird aspects? That’s gold. Sure, it might be silly fluff… but silly fluff is endearing.
9. Write reviews
Why does your favorite game only have a smattering of reviews on Steam? Because no one else wrote any. Reviews and review-bombing are real things, and sometimes people just haven’t given a game its due. You have a voice, though, and you have the ability to share what you know about a game, give people an idea of what to expect, and put the lie to anything that you think is an unfair portrayal of the game.
I mean, really, if you’ve got several hundred hours played, taking a second to check that you want to offer a positive review and writing “this is a good game” isn’t so much to ask, right?
10. Be friendly
Maybe you don’t have the time and energy for all of this stuff. Heck, maybe you’re just plain bad at it. Maybe you don’t understand game mechanics to write guides, you spend resources badly in your game of choice, no one needs your reviews of a particular game, and so forth. So what can you do?
You can smile.
Because ultimately, that’s going to have the biggest long-term impact in any game. You want people to think when they log into the game that they’ll meet other new people, and how you act helps shape expectations for each new encounter. So being friendly helps people see that while the game can get spirited, while there is always competition and the potential for disagreement, at the end of the day it’s a shared space of friendly folks and new strangers are potential new allies.
Unless it’s an open PvP game. Then you should cut that bitch and scream “Law of the jungle!” as you loot the corpse.