The past few weeks I’ve been investigating different online communities and have been trying to integrate myself into them and offer up my contributions. But one specific online community I’ve been using is the Steam Community (http://steamcommunity.com/). It’s a subsection off of the Steam store, the biggest online video game store. This community platform allows users to post content related to specific video games that can be purchased through the store. Whether that be through the Forums, uploading screenshots, videos, artwork or even the workshop which allows you upload modifications to games that anyone around the world can use.
But what makes this website a community? When looking at communities we can recognise that they are formed on 3 general points. Central unifying values, participation within a conversation and a sense of shared experience. The community is unified by there not only their love of video games but for the Steam platform itself. It allows users to interact, post pictures and discuss this love within the forums and enables participation within an overall conversation. The sense of shared experience comes from playing the video games themselves and being able to share your own personal experience of the video game, with other likeminded individuals on the Steam platform.
The particular part of the Steam community I chose to partake in was a sub-section for the video game Counter-strike: Global Offensive. I made a couple of different contributions. The first two contributions I made where videos (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=676604611 and http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=676604607). These videos acted as a review for the latest patch notes for the game. This allowed me to share my own opinion on the changes and hopefully spark discussion with other community members that are interested. “Hypertext thereby blurs the distinction between what is inside and what is outside the text” (Landow 2006) In these videos I attempt to make use of the intertextuality of hypertext, making direct reference to popular (http://www.reddit.com/r/globaloffensive) community threads and known image macros in the community. Such as the ‘volvo’ meme, that is used to reference the company Valve, the owner of steam. This is a theme I thought pertinent in other videos I looked at from the community. Another contribution I made was in the forums under the alias ‘ReveZ’ (http://steamcommunity.com/app/730/discussions/0/364039531225509113/), where I offered my opinion on ‘smurfing’ an issue currently plaguing the community.
“We can’t exchange social currency in a vacuum. We need other people.” (Oatway, 2012:98) I came into this experience with this quote in mind. I wanted to break into this community and offer my own social currency to them, instead of just indulging on the side lines and giving nothing back. While I believe I’ve created content and shared content with the community in mind, I have received little or no response back from them. The reasoning for this minimal success probably comes from the fact I’m not an established figure in the community. “The hunt for community is hardest at first, but gets easier once you’ve established a presence. Overcoming complete obscurity, moving from being a complete unknown to being recognizable presence is all it takes to being to attract an audience.” (Oatway, 2012:100) This is just my initial offering to this community. To eventually attract a bigger response, I’ll need to keep offering up my social currency and progressively gain more contacts, connections and opportunities within the community. Only then will I truly establish my presence.
Landow, George P. “Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization” Hypertext 3.0, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2006 117-118
Oatway, Jay, Apr 26, 2012, Mastering Story, Community and Influence: How to Use Social Media to Become a Socialeader Wiley, Hoboken. 97-109. ISBN: 9781119943457.