I have been on a bit of a mission for some time. While in Vancouver and now in Calgary I have been actively trying to get to various gaming communities to try to come together under a single forum and/or website to help broaden the reach of the individual gaming groups that are in each city.
Stores have their own forums, Warmachine groups have boards distinct from 40K gamers and no-one really seem to talk together.
I’ve always seen it as a major failing of the community. People seem to want to compartmentalize into small groups and there isn’t any apparent desire to build something bigger that helps the whole community advertise itself and grow.
Facebook seems to have have accelerated this problem. Locally each store has its own Facebook page and some stores have specific groups for games played at their stores. There are several gaming groups that run their own forums and some that even reduplicate this effort with Facebook pages.
Ultimately I think that this sort of fragmentization, especially on Facebook, is antithetical to building a larger community. Facebook works on a model that requires people to join multiple groups but provides no way for those groups to promote themselves in Facebook or outside of Facebook. Almost all groups or pages are not accessible from search engines and things like event postings are not exportable or usable in other sites.
So a person’s comment about a local event or a gaming group won’t appear in a search engine anywhere. This makes finding communities quite difficult in Facebook and absolutely impossible outside of Facebook.
This works well for Facebook since it drives traffic to their site and keeps traffic within their site as well. It isn’t good for groups using Facebook since it means that the only way to communicate with people is to get invited to the group or see some people comment via their timeline.
This is a model that most corporations use for sites like Facebook. Yahoo does it, Google does it with their + and Groups sites as well. They want to have you working with and staying within their ecosystem. So none of your Yahoo data can be used in other sites, none of your Facebook events can either.
The fact that this might not be in your best interest isn’t of any particular to Facebook.
The model means that Facebook promotes distinct groups that can’t cross promote, or communicate, and it creates multiple places where there are similar, or even the same, conversations that other people aren’t aware of. You need to be invited to them or link to them from a friend’s timeline and this then helps Facebook build a more in-depth profile of you, your friends and the people in the group you join.
We have a really great and vibrant community in Calgary and it is a shame to see it fragmented into small inaccessible communities like this just because Facebook doesn’t want to enable conversations outside their site.
When I came to Calgary I was of the impression that almost no-one here played Warmachine. A lot of my decisions made prior to coming here were based on what I could find through a rather large series of Google searches and those searches lead me to think that no-one here played anything other than Warhammer and 40K. I couldn’t find the Warmachine players, the Malifaux gamers or anyone playing anything other than GW games.
The situation is slightly better now but there are whole communities of gamers at local stores that are effectively invisible because they use Facebook and no other means to promote themselves. Good for Facebook but not so good for gamers.
And the thing that really confuses me is that almost no-one seems to see this as a problem.