Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

20 August, 2019

Culture! And a peek behind the scenes…
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:15 PM

Today’s post is going to cover the topic of the streaming podcast tonight: how to build a culture for your community. The podcast will start tonight about 8 PM Eastern at https://twitch.tv/Maulgrim

But I thought I’d talk a bit about culture and show the notes for the show.

I talked about culture a few years ago, although that was more in terms of game studios than communities. But many of the same rules apply here: You’ll get a culture whether you form it or not. And once it’s formed, it’s hard to change without a massive undertaking or a flood of new people with other assumptions. If you want a good culture that will let your group endure, then you should think about establishing things up front and be explicit about it.

Too often people just kind of let culture happen, which works fine for small groups that know each other. But once you get beyond that (and the threshold changes per group, there’s no hard and fast number not even Dunbar’s number of 150 people) you start to get enough friction in interactions between people that there will be miscommunication unless there are good assumptions and behaviors to guide people. This is what culture is, how people interact when they’re out of sight of the leaders.

In RP, you often need to work harder to establish this culture because you have to deal with with IC issues as well as OOC issues. And being emotional people that we are, IC issues can influence OOC feelings, especially over the long term. By establishing a culture where people work out problems instead of just holding on to them, you can avoid a lot of the problems that tend to tear groups apart.

The notes for tonight’s streaming podcast

What is culture?

* The values, beliefs, and attitudes of a group.
* Basically: guidelines for how people interact.’
* It exists even if you don’t define it!

Why should leaders care?

* It’s something that is set whether you control it or not.
* Almost always better to control it to avoid negative elements.
* Toxicity is a default, unfortunately.
* Easier to control development than to change after it’s set.

The development of culture

* http://psychochild.org/?p=1431
* Starting out: easy to just go along to get along.
* At some point culture is defined, by leader’s hand or no.
* People bring in assumptions from other groups.
* It takes on a life of its own.
* New people are indoctrinated if they come in slow enough.
* Maintaining culture in the face of a flood.
* Easy for culture to be toxic with no guidance: least common denominator.
* Difficult to change course because everyone just assumes.

Inclusion vs. Exclusion

* Openness is usually better as you want new blood.
* Elitism drives people away, even if it gives people a sense of belonging.
* Avoid being cliquish.
* Balance with keeping a focus for the existing community.
* Don’t need to accept just anyone.
* Be aware of who you exclude; maybe point them toward other communities.

The downward spiral

* Tribalism: Us vs Them.
* Cliquishness: shunning outsiders because they’re outsiders.
* Elitism: we rule; you drool. Our group is more important than yours.
* Bigotry: Finding a group to hate on.
* Intolerance: Isolating people from the community.

It’s easy to ignore culture

* Write it off as “human nature”.
* Try to remain “neutral” in affairs.
* Giving people “freedom” who use that to spread toxicity.
* Letting things go too long after tempers flare.

DRAMA!

* When people don’t get along… explosively so.
* This tends to build up over time.
* Some people nurture it for entertainment value.
* Drama is caused by miscommunication.
* Be aware of when hard feelings are building up and stop it.
* Set a tone of respect for others and deal with annoyances when they happen.
* If people can’t be respectful when explained, then they need to go.

How to build a good culture.

* Realize you have some control over it and take it!
* Strike a balance between control and freedom: few rules that have high impact.
* Lead by example.
* Emphasize consent and respect.
* Deal with problems instead of “avoiding conflict”.


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