A Few of My Favourite Things – Community Edition

Bleepbloops on Xboxes and postings on forums;
Halo 3 lobbies and twitching right triggers;
Special Edition packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favourite things.

Sorry that was awful. I know what you’re thinking: why would special edition packages be tied up with strings? I’ll tell you why, because it rhymes thats why. I originally meant this to be my top ten things I like about gaming but when I realised I had more than ten I knew I was gonna have problems so rather than try to whittle it down to ten and then put it in some kind of order I figured I’d just give you a few of my favourite things about the gaming community as a whole.

Online Friends
Online friends are awesome, so much better than real life friends and if you happen to be one of the 88 “friends” on my Facebook that happened to click the link to this that I posted today and your name isn’t Steve, Paul or Lee then I’ve got some news you might not want to hear, I hid you ages ago. Seriously, there are only so many times a 25 year old bloke can hear about how much chocolate a child can rub into its face, I hate raptr updates and they are about proper gaming so what makes you think anybody would be interested in the fact that you need to find a boxing glove in the modern day teletext game that is Mafia Wars is beyond me. If Mafia Wars was an actual game do you know where the pair of boxing gloves would be? In the Gym! Oh and Farmville! Bloody Farmville updates! What the hell do you even do in that game? I saw a screen shot once, it looked like Sim City except rubbish and with no giant robots. That “game” should be killed with fire.

Anyway, sorry, my online friends. My first ever online Xbox friend was a guy called Cliffrat, we played Burnout Revenge together and he was the only one on my friends list for a month or so. There wasn’t a huge amount of people online on Burnout Revenge at the time it came out and it had the old school PC method of playing online with lobbies rather than matchmaking, it was before the days of party chat too and trying to make sure you both ended up in the same lobby was painful. Every so often we’d play with a girl called tomthum, I think Cliff (Cliff wasn’t his real name but isn’t it odd how gamers have nicknames for our actual nicknames) just wanted to play with her because she was a girl. If I’m honest I didn’t want to play with her because 1) she was a girl and I felt like I had to let her win 2) she kicked my arse at that game! Turns out she wasn’t actually tomthum anyway she was just using her fellas Xbox Live. Over the last 5 years? (OMG 5 years, man I’m getting old!) we’ve got to know each other really well and we have met lots of other great friends on the way. There’s Pete who has had so many different gamertags with the word “gash” in it’s unreal, AlmightyOtter who the only reason I started stalking, I mean talking to, was because I thought his gamertag was awesome (sorry Otter, what can I say I’m shallow). That’s not to mention all the gamers I know through Twitter and previous forums I’ve been a member of that I’ve never even gamed with. I suppose I should give special mention to my newest bunch of internet friends, all the guys here at Gaming Lives. I’m trying my hardest not to sound like a completely soft bastard and my mum doesn’t approve of any of you but I really do love you guys.

Gaming Forums
Bit of an extension of number one really but gaming forums are quite good fun while they last, the sad thing is they almost always suffer the same fate. The boards will have to many mods and far too many bitchy girls but these “queen bees” as I call them seem to have a loyal following of a group of guys. As we know if you stalk a girl on Xbox Live and the internet and you pray really really hard one day, if you’re lucky, she’ll send you a picture of her boobs. That’s an actual internet fact.

So a queen bee, who is normally a moderator of said forum or a very active user (normally the most active) would have a tiff with either the guy who runs the site or another queen bee. It would turn into a big thing because she would leave the site in a huff without telling any of her loyal followers and all those guys who are yet to see her boobs would be like “OMG where is she??” then one of the guys who has seen her boobs would set up a new forum just for her and all the other worker bees from the old site would follow because… well… ya know… boobs! I write this like I’m taking the piss but I have been one of the worker bees and I know a few of you reading this have been too. The whole split was bad for two reasons: 1. I’m really lazy and changing my home page, joining a new forum, setting my sig and my avatar is hassle I can do without and 2. The poor guy who set up the original forum is left with a half empty website, all he ever wanted to do was talk to mates and play games then it became a full time job and then at its peak everybody left.

I’ve been a member of a few over the years there was 360consolecomunity.net that split and turned into 360fightclub.net then that split and I got pissed off and set up my own called xboxheroes.co.uk which was a fuckin awesome name but with no queen bee I was doomed from the start, I turned it into a blog in the end before I got bored and left it to disappear then I think I went to fightclub360.co.uk (not to be confused with the earlier one) you had to apply and pass a test to get in that one! Bunch of pretentious fucks! Then there was a queen bee event on there and I decided to set up one for that queen bee (even though I hadn’t seen her boobs!) it was called tainted diamonds. Looking back it did have a pretty cool logo but queen bee didn’t like it and made me change the whole look after I spent the best part of a month tweaking it, it was a bloody awful forum and it had such a shit name.

Then I found Twitter and just decided that forums weren’t worth the ballache. There are a few guys that I consider friends back from the old days of that very first site and we’ve had some good times dicking about on the internet ever since. If you’re looking to set up a gaming forum my advice is don’t bother. Some woman will only fuck you over and take half your stuff, you’ll feel like you never have enough members and it will suck up all your gaming time. If you absolutely have to, don’t give it a .net domain, everybody knows websites with .net at the end are rubbish and a .co.uk will only set you back, like, an extra 50p.

Party Chat
I do love party chat. I was talking to a friend the other day (Paul, one of the real life ones) who is the biggest PlayStation fanboy in the world) about the differences between Xbox live and the PSN. I was shocked to hear that you still can’t have cross game party chat, you all have to be in the same game. That’s crazy. What if I’m stuck on Mass Effect 2 on legendary and I need to discuss tactics on how best to save poor Kelly Chambers with tomthum and Pete but I can’t because they are both playing Red Dead, I’ll tell you what – you can’t! I use party chat a lot and during the week there will be one night where all I will do is sit playing the dashboard game just catching up with my online friends. I’m not trying to incite a fanboy war here, and Jesus Paul don’t you start in the comments, but the PSN has got some catching up to do.

Doing it for the Love
This has to be one of my all time favourite things about various gaming communities; forums, blogs and even some games developers. It’s that feeling you get that when looking at something on the net or playing a game where you know that it’s been thought out, put together and produced with love. Not for money, fame or hits just because we like doing it, gaming is really unique in that sense. The whole inspiration behind this article came from some guy who wrote an in depth guide about which planets are best to find certain elements on in Mass Effect 2, it was so in depth! He had taken a great deal of care and attention just for a forum post on some .net forum tucked away in their little corner of the internet where a group of about 60 gamers hang out and chat about games while they should really be working. I’d love to share a link and I’ve gone nuts trying to find it but I can’t. He didn’t appear to be doing it for any reason other than because he loved doing it and because he wanted to show his friends the best places to find some element zero. It’s kind of like me with this article and all my others, I just love doing this it’s the only reason I do it.

Game studios are the same; at least I like to think they are. Sorry to do it but I’m gonna bring up Bungie and Halo again (don’t sigh at me I’ve mentioned Kelly Chambers in every article since February but you skipped right over that in the last section didn’t you?) you can tell Bungie put a lot of love into a game all the tiny details and the humour that only geeks will get, oh and it actually says “love Bungie” at the very end of Halo’s credits. They are one of those special devlopers that go the extra mile to interact with the fans and make a game thats really for them, same goes for Lionhead with Fable and Epic games with Gears of War and so many others. Now I’m not stupid, I know it’s about making money too but some publishers make it just seem like it’s too much about making money with Call of Duty’s shagged out every November and constant movie tie-ins for everything Dreamworks can bang out. I’m not saying the guys making those games don’t love doing it, I’m sure they do, but secretly I think they all sit there dreaming of the day that it’s their game idea that makes it big so that they can really “love” the game they are making. So hats off to Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux, Gabe Newell and everybody who has ever been involved with the development of a game, you know those special games that we love so much. To every poor bloke who had his forum destroyed by a queen bee I raise my glass and for every person that got bored on a Sunday and thought “I know I’ll make a website about games”…

you guys…

awwww you guys get a hug.

Games featured in this article
For more information on any of the games featured in this article, click on any of the links below

Last five articles by Lee



  1. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I can relate to this, quite a lot… several reasons I suppose. First and foremost, one of my longest standing friends (our very own Pete) and my better half (that girl Lorna, innit) are both in my life because of internet forums – it’s where I met them online, where I chatted with them and where I eventually arranged to meet up with them in person. There’s a lot to be said for getting to know someone online first, as you have to learn their personality through nothing more than text and gauge reactions in the same way. On the other hand, it does make it somewhat precarious as you can obviously never tell when someone’s being truthful with you and I’ve had my fair share of blatant liars and exaggeraters over the years but eventually you just get bored laughing at their idiocy and scrape them off, then on to the next… because there’s always another one waiting in the wings. It’s like a conveyor belt, but each one thinks they thought of it first!

    Facebook is very different, but also very similar in that I have SO many more people on my Facebook friends list than I ever thought possible although, compared to others, 68 really isn’t very many at all. For me, however, it’s perhaps twice the size it needs to be. There are those on there who added me just because they know someone that I also know and that, for some reason, constitutes becoming an online “friend” so I accept their request wondering what nuggets of wonderment they’ll grace my Wall with… and they never say anything to me, ever. There are others who may have known me from school and want to “touch base” after 30 years so I’ll throw caution to the wind and accept their friend request when really, unless I’m being overly cynical, it’s just because they want to see if I too have lost all my hair and started to look like a prune and then, when they realise I haven’t, they never say a word because they know deep down that they only ever planned on bumming themselves up and now they can’t.

    Like real society, online communities have their glowing plus sides and they’re bleak dark sides. When you manage to separate the bullshitters from the genuine article, however, it makes it a little easier to bear… and you can find some genuinely awesome people along the way.

    Except Lee, but he’s “alright I spose”.

  2. Rook says:

    If I didn’t have an Xbox 360 and broadband I wouldn’t be here today (I might be grown up and responsible – ewwww) so gaming has brought alot of good people into my life. And Kat. :D

    I’ve only taken part in two forums and never thought it would lead to meeting and becoming good friends in real life which is awesome; maybe I should look for a forum called Single Hot Online Women Being Entertaining While Beating Scores. I’ve had a good ratio of forum to friends and that forum would have a good acronym.

    Online friends helps those of us (me) who aren’t the biggest social person and we can meet up in a game and share the same passion; taking out Peggles. :D

  3. Ste says:

    There’s only ever been one forum where I consider myself to have been one of the “core” members of the community and that was a City of Heroes supergroup (guild) forum. Its still active today but with me not playing the game anymore I gave up my moderator rights and my activity gradually fizzled out. I made a lot of friends on that forum. Meet ups were talked about but certain members were reluctant and so they never really took off. As for queen bees our queen ruled with an iron fist as she was the supergroup leader and seeing as she was already in charge there never was a reason for a split.

    Anyway, now here I am on GL! I love the site and I’m working on my forum presence. In time I hope to make some new friends too which is exciting. Maybe I need to invest in Gold membership on Live? Meh.

    I digress, nice article. At the end of the day this is what the internet is all about; communication and I’m just grateful there are other people more willing than me to make a site thats dedicated to my number 1 hobby. :D

  4. Tania Tania says:

    Great article. GamingLives is my first forum and it totally rocks! It’s so cool to be part of an online community of funny, witty, smart, nice and entertaining people who all have something in common. Their love of gaming. :)

  5. paul says:

    fanboy that owns an xbox360 thats me, its gonna take me a while to get used to the 360 i haven’t really used that feature as i only have one xbox live friend ( awwwwwwwwwwwww, : ( we all need to remember that the 360 has been out a good year before the ps3 and one day that feature will come , one day xbox will fall and i’ll rule the world with millions of fanboys. and then hell will freeze over. i like both machines however i am still drawn towards the puss3 more?

  6. Lorna Lorna says:

    I’ve been a part of a few gaming communities and can get what you’re talking about. I’ve seen the queen bee syndrome manifest in other, equally destructive ways, seen flame wars start, mods abuse their privileges, and seen the widest spectrum of bad forum behaviour around from misogynistic, rude, sarcastic, ignorant, aggressive nonsense to fanboys turning up just to start a war about their fave game only getting scored an 8 by the magazine. I’ve seen magazine staff have to defend their reviewing policy and writing against incoming idiots and I’ve seen regular posters driven off by unpleasant behaviour.

    On the plus side, I’ve met some great folks, had my horizons and views expanded, been introduced to games and things that I would have otherwise never have tried, met some great folks, seen some top level moderating, learned when to shout and when to let something go, and have had some great experiences. Most of the friends that I now have, I met online…most of whom I speak to more than some family members on my Facebook, but that is probably because you can choose your friends ;)

    I don’t think gaming is alone in this neat little community effect, but I enjoy it…I love to expand my tastes, learn about new games and try things that I would have otherwise shunned. In writing and editing for this site, I’ve played games that I never thought that I would play (Black Mirror 2 for example) and it has only ever benefitted me and given me a broader yardstick. Good stuff, Lee.

  7. Kat says:

    I like forums. Almost all my bestest friends I have met through them. I’m a forum slut though. I’ll be really into one for a period of time before pissing off and finding another that gets my attentions. I think almost all interests will have their online communities, I found the same in my reenacting days. My favourite forums tend to have a smaller amount of regular posters, it gives you an opportunity to get to know people as well as type shit from time to time. When I’ve tried bigger ones such as Metal Hammer or Digital Spy my voice got lost amongst the crowds and there’s a pack mentality which makes it “okay” for people to be complete arseholes.

    What a hot bunch of geeks by that limo too ;)

  8. Samuel Samuel says:

    I have something of a turbulent time with online communities… I tend to sabotage myself by refusing to join things like Facebook or Twitter, and by making a fool of myself on forums when I’m having a bad day and ruining any headway I may have made with people. I suppose I’m just not very social, as a gamer or otherwise.

    Still. It can be worth sticking with at times. Sometimes you do meet some very interesting people through forums. Who might even overlook what a prat I’m being when I’m having a rough time.

    Forums aren’t such a big thing in my life as they previously were, but the forum here is still very important to me.

  9. Victor Victor says:

    Where would we be without the internet, eh? Here is a sobering thought. Without the internet, not a single member of Gaming Lives would have met the other. At all. Like, EVER. MarkuzR wouldn’t be beating me in Words with Friends. Kat wouldn’t scare us with her singing online. Rook wouldn’t astonish us with his cheesecake fetish. Ed wouldn’t shock us with his gaps in popular films. So many things wouldn’t have happened.

    Thank god for the internet, Xbox Live, internet friends and this article.

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