Community Vision, have it? What is it?

May 01, 2010

I love the title of this post.  I have a hunch that after reading that your first thought was something like; "What's that?" or "What does he mean by that?". Good! All through time, or at least the last 29 years, I have read and it has been said ti me to: "Get the vision" or to "understand my vision".  I have actually said that a big part of my job early on is to communicate the vision of the product.

I am a visual guy.  I am an awful speller in part because when I imagine things, I see shapes and colors and objects, not letters. It's these shapes and objects that becomes games, or control interfaces, or blog posts. My job is to communicate that vision to people who look at things differently than I do.

Now that we've defined "vision", let's talk about community.

A game board of alfapet.
Back in the old days, the community was JUST those people who bought your game. The question was, how do we keep them involved. Side note here: companies that only care about getting the product purchased, and then ignore the customer, often go bankrupt or are just a flash in the pan.

Community is the made up of first, people who bought your game.  It then splits into factions.  There will be those who tell their friends about it, those that only play it on their lunch hour, those that only play it when their friend is over to play multi-player, those that use your in-game tools to create content, those that blog or create fan sites about it, and those that will follow yur around like puppies at game conventions.

That's a lot of different needs that need to be met for "community". Most companies fail to meet all of these factions needs. Actually, most just meet one or two, and hope that's enough to encourage people to buy the downloadable content, DLC, or at least the sequel.

But let me through another wrench in the mix, Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook IS a community for your game all by itself.  Their needs are communication directly with YOU.  The twitter folks are a offshoot of Facebook and there is huge crossover between them. We've been known to call these groups Twitbookers or the Twitbook community.

Your vision of your community must include all of these factions and your priorities must be on the amount of impact these groups have on your sales.  Obviously the Twitbookers are about immediate communication.  Gone are the days where a product was a "fire and forget" proposition. I suggest also that the days of complete secret development are gone as well.  We want the consumers to know what we're working on, we NEED them to know.  And furthermore, we HAVE to let them know so they'll talk about it.

At board game conventions I always say, "Draw a crowd, because crowds breed crowds.  And crowds mean buzz, and buzz means sales".  Your job as a developer or publisher is to create a community vision, which are your major groups and how will you meet their needs, BEFORE the product is launched and  suggest you do it as the game is being designed.

Feed the community by creating the vision.  The more you feed them, the more they're talk about your game.

So let me ask you this, what is the vision of your community?