Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

15 August, 2018

The drama problem in communities
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:53 PM

There’s one thing that kills groups dead more than anything else: Drama. The he-said, she-said garbage where different groups feel aggrieved and upset at the other for perceived reasons. Drama creates a wedge between people and kills communities.

Since I’m talking about communities this week, let’s take a quick look at drama.

Let me make this super clear:

Miscommunication causes drama

You can think of a community like an MMO guild as a relationship between many people. Look at any advice about how to improve relationships and almost every single one will say that communication is key to maintaining that relationship. Nothing kills relationships faster than a lack of communication because that lets the other person fill in the “unspoken” blanks between each other. It allows uncertainty and doubt to creep in and prey on our worst suspicions about other people. And this may not be fair, but it’s how our minds work.

So how do you encourage open communication between people? The first step is to make it part of your culture. Make open and honest communication part of the culture. Of course, this means the leadership needs to embrace this as well: being open and honest with people helps them to understand the importance. Of course, this is easier said than done; sometimes it’s really hard to be open and honest when you messed things up. But if you hide things and people know about it, this becomes part of the assumed culture: hide your bad deeds to save face.

So you need to nurture communication, encourage communication, review communication, and praise communication. As leaders and members of a community you need to make sure you do everything you can to keep communication open. Accept things that might show you in a bad light, but review them and improve your behavior if you were causing a problem. This requires being an adult, which admittedly can be hard for some people. And some people don’t want this responsibility since a game is “just for fun”, but the people you’re interacting with are real even if they’re in a game.

Of course, this doesn’t give you free reign to say whatever you want. There’s being open and honest, and then there’s being an abrasive asshole. For some of us nerds and geeks it can be hard to really understand the difference. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Does saying this help resolve a problem? Or am I just saying it to make myself look better or feel better?” Before you say something potentially hurtful, really look at the problem you want to address and make sure you’re addressing it.

So, look at how your group communicates with each other. One more time for emphasis:

Miscommunication causes drama

Remember this!

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