Social media is certainly a modern day buzzword. Despite that I wanted to take some time to pause and take a look at social media and its relationship to RPG gaming.
Social media networks seem to have permeated our lives in some form or other. For some social media is Facebook, for others Twitter and still for others the recent entry, Google+. Facebook is reportedly around 845 million users, Twitter is reportedly around 383 million users according to some sources, and Google+ has crossed 90 million users. That is a lot of people using social media in some form, it only stands to reason there are a number of RPG gamers amongst these networks.
Gone are the days of not having other gamers to connect with because of your location. Whether you live tens of miles from the nearest one traffic light town or in a bustling city, you can find gamers to communicate with on one of the major social media networks.
Of all of the social media networks, Facebook, while the most predominant, is probably the one I use the least for gaming contacts. I am sure my experiences do not reflect everyone’s experience though, so let us take a look at what Facebook brings to the table.
Facebook is a good place to follow the gaming companies you like – whether it be Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Green Ronin or any number of other gaming companies, chances are they have a Facebook page. This can be a good way to keep up with new releases, previews and more from these companies.
Moving beyond simply following companies there are several ways to interact with fellow gamers. This can range from simply friending them to joining the various Facebook groups for more focused interactions with fellow gamers. There are groups for all sorts of gaming interests it can just be a matter of finding them. The groups make for a more focused discussion and keeps you from filling your status updates with too much gaming talk.
As I noted above, despite Facebook’s size and popularity I have not really scratched the surface for the gamer community on Facebook. For the folks reading this who do use Facebook as an outlet to connect with other gamers, please feel free to add to the comments some of the good Facebook resources for people looking to connect with other gamers there.
Twitter. Conversations in 140 character bursts! Twitter is a great place to socialize with other gamers online. I have virtually met a lot of great people via Twitter. As with Facebook many gaming companies have a presence on Twitter so you can follow them and learn of company updates and sometimes behind the scenes information.
Hash tags are what makes Twitter a real win for me, especially in the early stages before you have made many friends there. By following a hash tag, for example #dnd or #pathfinder or #rpg, you have a constant search to see what people are saying about that topic. So even if you are not following a particular person you can easily see their comments and get involved in discussions about games and gaming.
Twitter moves fast too. You can learn about news that hits the gaming community in mere minutes after it happens a lot of the time. Want fresh discussion on D&D Next? Swing by Twitter and start following the #dnd or #dndnext hash tags. You will read all types of feedback and thoughts on the next version of D&D.
I would be remiss not to mention one of the hidden gems on Twitter, #rpgchat. Thursday nights on Twitter at 9pm eastern hosted by Liz “d20blonde” Bauman. #rpgchat is a weekly gathering of gamers on Twitter that virtually meet up and discuss a topic of the week. The discussions are always informative with lots of ideas from different perspectives. Everyone is always well mannered and for those new to Twitter it can be an excellent way of building up a list of interesting people to follow.
Google+ is the newcomer to the social media realm. I signed up early in the invite only stage and checked in here and there. The place seemed like a ghost town. I’d check my streams, hardly see any posts and head back to Twitter or Facebook. This is what a lot of people think when they hear Google+ mentioned.
Disregard that, it simply is not true – at least for gamers. Here is the trick to Google+. You need to put a little effort into growing your circles in the beginning. See, a lot of people on Google+ are active in their circles, but rarely post public posts. So if you are not in their circle they post to frequently it looks like they are not posting anything. My Google+ account is a perfect example. My public feed makes it look like I am an infrequent poster, but that is not the case. I simply make most of my posts to my RPG circle.
Whether you are new to Google+ or tried it several months ago and gave up on it, I encourage you to give it another shot. Take a few weeks to focus on adding to your own circles, comment on people’s posts and take advantage of circles that get shared by others. Soon you will find your circles growing and yourself included in more circles. That is when the depth of Google+ starts to become apparent.
There are some great gamers on Google+ and we are not restrained by a 140 character limit. So the conversation can be more in-depth. The real name policy helps keep people on their best behavior so you can avoid a lot of the downsides of traditional Internet forums. I have had some great conversations on Google+ and it seems full of gamers with good thoughts and things to inspire your own game.
Another perk to Google+ is Google Hangouts which is Google’s voice and video conference software. With an API in beta that several people are developing virtual tabletops for, Google+ is apt to become an even more popular platform for gamers to meet each other and later game with each other online.
If you have not tapped into the social media networks to expand your gaming circles between games you have several options available to you. I have touched upon the big three. Most likely you are familiar with these social media networks in some way, but maybe you will take a fresh look at them now and see how they can be used to increase your circle of gamer friends!