Gaming today often transcends the controller and makes its way to internet forums, communities and social media outlets. Much like anything else, fans of games want to socialize with each other and create friendly communities that promote growth and longevity. Unless you run an Etsy store where you sell Final Fantasy pins, or you wrote an important article about some drama that went down with your favorite esports team, that is. Leave that stuff out of it, lest you suffer the wrath of overbearing community moderators. With how globalized and all-encompassing most fandoms are these days, it’s disconcerting that so many forums have strict rules about “self promotion”. In fact, it really hurts the community on a couple different levels.
Gaming Writers and Journalists
As a writer, your main focus beyond writing well is finding the right platform for maximum exposure. Maybe it’s your blog or gaming site that does it, or maybe you’ve managed to finally get some freelance pitches accepted; no matter how you did it, you’ve worked hard, spoken with authority, and have produced work worth reading. It wasn’t easy, either. In fact, it probably took you untold hours of work and outreach to get your foot in the door. So now you have something published on the internet somewhere, and you’re anxious to share it with your favorite niche community. Or so you thought. “Your post violates rule 3 of SocialMedia1’s code of conduct (self-promotion) and has been removed.”
So, let me get this straight. A community was created with the intent of being semi-exclusive because it prides itself in presenting a premium forum-going experience, but it doesn’t want a writer sharing content that may enrich the community’s gaming experience…just because they wrote it? How on earth does that make any sense? Not only that, but it would be okay if the writer just copied and pasted everything as if it were a normal post. Arbitrary rules that interfere with healthy, meaningful discussions are corrosive and must be done away with. Writers have a largely thankless job as it is and have to put up with negative comments and reactions on a weekly basis. The least you could do is let them post their articles and see what people have to say.
Artists and Content Creators
Simply put, you have no idea whether or not a community member has an interest in buying something from another community member. Having artists in your group that regularly contribute is a gift that you can’t throw away. They bring an often untapped wealth of cultural flair to the communities they belong to, and they’re usually some of the nicest people you’ll meet. It’s as easy as scrolling past a post if you don’t care about it, right? That’s what conventional wisdom would tell you, anyway. So why block them from posting?
Even more unfortunate are YouTubers and Twitch streamers who get blocked even though they just want to publicly announce that they’re streaming. It’s just another way for members to interact with each other, and there’s no harm in someone saying “hey, come hang out in my channel for a few!” Again, it’s as easy as scrolling on down.
Another problem that has been popping up more frequently as of late is outlets placing absurd restrictions on their writer applicants. One very famous esports team (who will go unnamed) recently posted about wanting a community writer. Their requirements? Be in the highest tier on the online ladder, be 16 years old, and “know English”. That’s embarrassing. Online skill rarely translates into powerful writing, and it shouldn’t be a determining factor in whether or not you allow someone to produce content for your site. If it’s that important, take it into consideration at the very most. It’s very possible that someone has a deep enough understanding of the game that they can churn out thought-provoking articles without being in Ultra Super Duper Diamond League.
It should be understood, of course, that there are always caveats. The person in question should, without a doubt, be at least semi-active in normal community posts if they’re posting about their store, stream or article. If that’s all they seem to want to contribute, then moderators are well within their rights to prevent someone from “self promoting”. But it’s the duty of the mod team to have a critical eye and always look out for the best of the gaming community at large. Stifling a fellow gamer’s voice runs counter to the generally progressive recreational outlets that are much more than “just games” to most of us. Our purpose is to play games, engage with other like-minded gamers, and always promote discussion and intellectual conversation. To reiterate, gaming is like any other global community, and it wants to grow in every abstract way you can think of. If you’re knowingly working against these natural human tendencies, you’re pulling at the thread that keeps gaming relevant and meaningful as a social platform.