Ahhh, The Community. It is simultaneously the reason for and the bane of the existence of entertainment producers (no, not just games), media publishers and politicians the world over. It is an odd grouping of people, publishers, producers and politicians, but the truth is, we do not exist without a community. We also get no rest with a community; a community keeps us on our toes, calling us on our every slip-up, purposeful or not, and wanting ever more from us in the form of product, information and promises.
I'm not complaining - it is what it is. In fact, the careful dance between community and the "owner" of said community can be quite entertaining and exciting. Trying to guess what the community wants, and guessing correctly, is exhilarating. Watching the speculation of a community about some new Thing being released or revealed is highly amusing, especially if you have the inside info.
But there is a flipside to all the fun. Guessing what the community wants incorrectly sucks. That speculation by the community can sometimes do more damage than good, i.e. overhype, incorrect speculation being accepted as fact. And undoing erroneous speculation or negative rumors is tough business.
Knowing this, people have always had to pay attention to the community. But that alone is no longer enough. In the past, our communities have been severely limited by geography. The farther away someone was from you, the harder it was to maintain a relationship - the travel time was longer, the post took longer, the phone calls were more expensive.
Enter: The internet.
It hasn't made travel take any less time, but it's made ticket booking easier. Email is a button away in many homes and at the workplace. With IM and message boards, phone usage has declined, as have phone bills. I can contact nearly anyone I know in an instant.
I can also contact people I don't know at all in an instant. I can find a forum, website or chat room dedicated to pretty much any topic I'd want. I can and do talk to several people from many different countries everyday. People from several dozen countries read this site every month. All of a sudden the world is a much smaller place.
And dealing with communities has become an entirely different ball of wax. We now have people of all different walks of life - religions, ages, native languages, socioeconomic status - mingling together on the forums of the internet. Creating a solid community that feels comfortable for different cultures, but similar interests is a difficult task. This, layered on the careful dance mentioned earlier, makes Community one of the most challenging aspects of business today. And for this reason, we've chosen to focus on community in this week's issue of The Escapist, "Block Party." Enjoy!