THE PCG Q&A
Is there an online game where you've found people happy to co-operate and help new players? Or a singleplayer game where the forums are full of useful advice and people giving positive feedback on each others' creations? Let's help hook some people up with the nicer groups of players, wherever they are.
This week's question is: Which game has the friendliest community? Here are our answers, plus a bunch sourced from our own friendly forum.
Wes Fenlon: This question feels like a setup for disappointment, because it seems like any gaming community will inevitably have some bad apples. But anecdotally, when I played Phantasy Star Online on fan servers a few years ago, people were incredibly nice and ridiculously generous. I think there are a couple reasons for that.
The biggest is that everyone playing Phantasy Star Online today is there for some nostalgic good vibes; this is a game they have fond memories of from their youth 20 years ago, or they had an older sibling who played it, or they're looking for something that makes them feel the way they did playing games as a kid even if this wasn't their particular childhood game. PSO is pretty archaic, and the "simpler times" feel sets a lighthearted, wistful mood. Second, PSO is a really grindy game, so the people hanging out on these fan servers have mostly done everything in the game a dozen times over and have vaults overflowing with money and gear. So they know the monotony ahead of newcomers, and are happy to give newbies a leg up with some gear. Generosity comes easily.
Also, PSO predates voice chat, so if someone wants to be casually racist or terrible they have to actually type it out.
Christopher Livingston: I'm not an insider or anything, but The Sims community has always seemed a super positive and friendly bunch. When I've gone digging through forums for info or help I don't see a lot of rancor or nastiness, they've got a really creative and busy mod community, and despite the sometimes eyebrow-raising prices on some of the expansions and add-on packs, I don't really hear a lot of complaints from the people who I know play (and buy) all the additional Sims stuff when I think many other communities would be breaking our torches and pitchforks. I know you can't play The Sims 4 directly with other people (yet) but in terms of a community for a singleplayer game, they seem largely awesome.
Jody Macgregor: I've played a lot of online games where people say the community is friendly, but it turns out what they mean is it's friendlier than in other games. Like, they still shout at each other but they're less racist about it?
And even offline games can have forums full of jerks. Stardew Valley is a rare exception, with a subreddit full of people showing off pictures their children drew or photos of cats. Even when they disagree about something ("Is Penny too judgemental?" "Does tapping trees prevent them from dropping seeds?" "Parsnips, good or bad?") the mood stays cheery. There's just something about that game.
From our forum
Zloth: BattleTech has a very friendly community. There really aren't that many that have bad ones, at least in the realm of single player games.
XoRn: Under Night In-Birth's community discord channel has guides on every character and match up, dedicated channels for every character so you can talk specifics with others who play what you play, and is populated with players of all strengths, from the fledgling beginner to professionals who have won multiple tournaments. I only started playing fight games last year and my continued efforts to improve in them is in large part thanks to the massively supportive communities behind each of them.
SWard: Gosh I mean, it's not a PC Game but it would be hard to discount how amazing the Animal Crossing community has been during the last few weeks, the spirit of collaboration, wholesome fun and meme-ry, humour and frustration has been a joy to watch. I don't play it but it's certainly made my twitter feed a better place, given people some much needed escapism and given folks a reason to talk to each other, trade goods and meet digitally. : )
Pifanjr: The Stardew Valley community is very friendly as well.
I suppose it comes with the genre. It doesn't seem particularly well suited for mean-spirited people.
Zoid: @SWard I second the Animal Crossing community! I started playing New Horizons as a way to relieve the large amounts of stress I've been under, and everything I've seen from the community so far has been just as wholesome as the content of the game. @Pifanjr same goes for Stardew Valley as well. Wonderful people.
There are lots of communities I could mention, but I'll stick with two for this post. I'll start with the game everyone is probably tired of hearing me mention:
The Kerbal Space Program community. Even players who have poured hundreds of hours into the game still remember the challenge of landing on the Mun for the first time, and the sense of accomplishment they felt afterwards. Players who have been to every corner of the Kerbol system still welcome newcomers who are trying to make it into orbit for the first time, and offer sincere congratulations when they succeed. The game is all about stretching yourself to achieve new goals, even small ones, and the community is very supportive of that.
Even though this one isn't a specific game, I'd like to mention the speedrunning community as a whole. You could pick any of the most popular games and this would apply. I've had the most experience with the Super Mario Odyssey speedrunning community. Everyone is working towards the same goal of beating the game as quickly as possible, so even though players are competing for the best times, they also want to see the record get lower and lower. It's not uncommon in the more popular speedrunning games for a player to put a cash bounty out on their own record, hoping someone will beat it by discovering even faster strategies. People also put tons of time into coming up with beginner routes and tutorials for new players to help bring more people into the community. As I've found with many niche communities like this, most people are just in it for the love of the thing and want to see their community thrive.
Oussebon: One of the most generous-spirited communities has to be the modding community on Nexus Mods - best known for Skyrim, Fallout etc modding. Fundamentally it's about people sharing their labour and their art with others, for free, and giving players huge choice in how to play their games.
There's a huge amount of discussion and help with using mods - I've found lots of answers and learned a lot from the knowledge people share on those threads. Also lots of screenshot sharing and commenting on the Nexus.
Of course the community needs active support to keep going, but the beauty is it serves everyone, including relative lurkers.
There's one popular FO4 mod made by some super well known and respected modders that had a very minor issue with one of my other mods (also a popular one). I'm no modder, but I've used mods enough to know how bits of them work and what the conflict was. I contacted the author, who was super nice and responsive.
Within a couple of days, I'd made a patch for the conflict which they hosted with their mod - it's since been downloaded ~55k+ times. As someone who predominantly lurks, It was nice to give even a tiny little thing back.