No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
Every time when words like ‘community’, ‘group’, ‘togetherness’ reach me, that famous poem is the first thing that appears in my mind. To know that I am not alone, that there are other people who share my interests and people who care about the same things that are important to me – it creates a cosy feeling inside me and a willing appears for me to contribute to the whole of which I am a small part.
There is a theory (it is kind of spiritual thing, but I like the idea of it) according to which we are all connected in higher universal consciousness. I actually imagine it as a cloud of stardust around the planet. When someone is born a bit of that universal mind separates and become that person’s soul/mind/consciousness. During our life we learn how to use new technologies, we develop new skills, we change and adapt to new environments, we evolve. And according this belief, after death our mind (those 21 grams) returns to the universal consciousness and enriches it with everything new, so when the next bit of mind separates for new life it already has that additional knowledge and value.
In my view, communities are quite the same.
Things in common: the learning part, sharing, helping and the most important – the drive for moving forward. Most of the time and cases our community makes us better, affecting our social life, personal engagement and improvement. Developing the ‘we-feeling’ and sense of belonging are an essential moment of our growth and often in a certain moment the community becomes part of our identity, it defines us as individuals.
There was a time when different kind of communities were form based on locality. And this makes perfect sense. But as part of the 90’s generation most of my consciousness life is in the digital world. I hardly even remember the landline phones which never run out of battery. While my parents still invite neighbours to dinner, I prefer to communicate with my friends online. Some of them I have never met in real life.
In fact, a whole new era began with the Internet widespread usage. Now it is easier than ever to meet the ‘perfect matches’, to join the ‘right community’ and to communicate with thousands of people no matter where you physically are (as long as we have access to some kind of device with Internet).
The mass usage of social networks brings online communities on a whole new level. I feel that currently I belong to dozens groups – in some of which I am more active, in others less, in some I spend a lot of time and in other I briefly observe. At present, the online community I belong most to is the one of handcrafters. To create things with my hands is something I love since child – glass painting, silk scarves, encaustic art, quilling, polymer clay… the list is endless.
Like every crafter I have days when I simply cannot find an inspiration. Or moments I have an idea but have no clue how to realise it. Or I simply want to learn new technique to make a gift for someone special for me. No matter what is the situation, one click and I enter the world where I belong and meet people with experience, innovators, experimenters united in kind and lovely atmosphere. It sounds nearly utopia…
Some people would say quite the same thing about their online gamers community. And it would not be a surprise at all. For me personally it can be said that I have not yet reached this stage in my life. Honestly, the last game I played almost 24/7 was Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros when I was around 8 years old. Probably because my other interests (as mention above – handcrafting) and the time I spend creating I never felt bored or experienced desire to do something like playing online games.
Furthermore, I often like to improvise and this does not apply in gaming all the time – for example, when the team is on mission, my character checks if it can pass through trees, jumping from cliffs and that kind of stuff (which is note supposed to do). In fact, usually I am not even motivated to accomplish the tasks given.
Do not get me wrong. I like games. I like World of Warcraft so far. It is true that I spent a lot of time choosing name for my character – a female blood elf. I even found out that there are online name generators for WOW’s characters, but most of the names they create did not sound very elf-ish to me. After I choose the name I spent some good time trying to match elf’s hairstyle and ears, her eyes colour and the earrings (because she IS elf and these are important things, I thought).
After entering the WOW as a brand new gamer I felt a bit clumsy, not knowing the key’s combinations, trying to learn how to move properly. It was fun, because I use to walk backward more often than forward. Once I kind of got the walking thing, I found it interesting to explore the world around me.
As I already said – I do not care much about the tasks. I am more about wondering around, looking at the grass and the trees – what shape are they, how it was decided which green nuance to use, what is the weather like… And the creatures that I had to kill – how were they created, why they are floating, do they live in groups… The other characters – for what reason he or she goes there, what kind of weapons they have, do they notice me… It is new world, so I am curious. My questions on this stage are more about the designer’s decisions, other players’ behaviour and not so much about strategies and tasks (and maybe I have to think more about them considering I did not play that game before). Definitely, I am the newbie of the newbies!
However, I am not afraid of being newbie, because I appreciate every opportunity to try something different, to be somewhere I have never been before, to observe, to explore. Currently, when I enter the World of Warcraft I leave my comfort zone and find myself into unknown territory.