Regardless of the content involved, communities exist within practically every aspect of humanity. From nationalities to hobbies to favorite foods, people in general find comfort and joy out of finding a group of other individuals with mutual interests. Thanks to social media and online communication, gaming communities have grown to being incredibly large and vast. Beyond providing people others to play and talk about games with, it has provided a place where people feel they belong.
To reflect and discuss what community can truly mean to gamers, I spoke with Overbuff Social Media Specialist, Sabriel Mastin. Overbuff is a fan run website, sharing news and updates happening in Overwatch, the popular and high action first person shooter by Blizzard Entertainment. Sabriel’s first major interaction with gaming communities began when she was playing World of Warcraft nearly ten years ago. She eventually found the opportunity to attend BlizzCon, Blizzard’s very own convention in Los Angeles, California, and was able to meet her dear WoW friends in person. The ability to make these fantastic connections through a mutual love for such an immersive game, let alone be able to meet the people she had been playing with for years in person, was indescribable for her.
As she grew to be more open about her gender identity as a trans lesbian woman, Sabriel decided that she did not want that part of her to be kept in the dark with her work. After Overbuff approached her with the opportunity to manage their social media, she began to share more of her story and experience being a trans woman with those willing to listen. The outpour of support was more than she could have ever imagined; she recalled attending PAX East 2014, a video game convention in Boston, Maryland, and the roar of applause that erupted from the audience when she courageously came out to them during a panel. She even had a line of people waiting to speak with her, and one interaction especially was unforgettable to her: a single person who came up and told her “thank you for being here and being visible”.
The incredible effect that communities and visibility of them can have on people goes without saying. Representation for things seen as nerdy, out of the ordinary, and especially for marginalized groups help those who may not feel like there are others like them out there, realize that they have a place where they belong. They no longer need to feel outcast and alone, knowing that future friends can simply be a convention, panel, or click away.