The rise of ‘game specific’ online tribes and internet-based communication and social media platforms that have sprung up around online computer games and gaming are set to be the next big thing on the online socials. Online meeting places and social media platforms have long been a central element of the internet, but the inclusion of gaming culture, specific game related social spaces and the associated gaming merchandise have made for a wider range and substantial number of places to meet people who enjoy the same things that you do and interact with them, and all online.
What are online gaming tribes?
There are online tribes for everything – as long as something is trending and does so for a significant amount of time (enough to get a large number of people together online to interact and discuss such a trend), then an online tribe can be formed. It doesn’t have to be in online gaming as many assume, there are also huge followings for the best of Bitcade’s arcade games, chess, board games and quizzing. The online tribe provides a place for people with similar hobbies and interests to meet and discuss them and interact.
The gaming tribe is a natural progression of those who meet online to game or to discuss the games that they play, watch others game and share tips around the games being played. Gaming tribes have become associated with either a specific genre of games, a specific game or a range of competitive esports games. It’s essentially a huge number of people who get together or access a specific online space to interact and discuss the games that they play.
Again, it is worth mentioning that for many the online gaming tribe doesn’t necessarily need to be related to a game played online, as long as they meet to discuss and interact around the various games then this is surely an online gaming tribe.
How the online tribe is developing
These online gaming tribes are and will create the next important thing in social media/marketing. The development of gaming tribes may not yet have become a mainstream event, big enough to challenge the established social media platforms. It is, however, clear and obvious as to the manner in which gaming is taking over these mainstream social media platforms, such as YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook, while the newcomers such as Reddit, Twitch and other game specific sites are simply blossoming.
Social media and short form video clips have become a familiar means for gamers to meet, share play against each other and watch other gamers play. There are also now various forums and chat forums related to gaming and specific types of games and these are more social, rather than simply for gaming. Players do not necessarily access the social areas to play, but to interact, discuss and socialize around the games. It is this aspect of the tribe that creates a sense of personalization and a niche form of social media. It is arguably a trend that is only likely to increase and spread as games such as League of Legends becomes more competitive and on the other spectrum, retro and arcade games make a comeback and the online tribe provides a space to share and build the culture globally.
What this means for business
The ability to reach a specific group in one place is a marketer’s dream and the online gaming related tribe presents such an opportunity. The difficulty being presented at the moment is that a lot of these tribes prefer to remain below the radar, preferring the label of alternative culture rather than mainstream and as such they present a very tough market to enter. They are highly protective of the game culture and have noticeably clear rules as to advertising and marketing of game related merchandise and accessories. There may have been a rise in alternative platforms for more personalized and bespoke social media, but these are yet to provide for the social marketplace that Facebook, Instagram and the other more established forms of social media have become. The new social media will perhaps be less approachable and less suited for business and advertising unless it is squarely aligned with the needs and ideologies of the specific tribe.
The rise of the online tribe has been a remarkable phenomenon that has affected most aspects of online life. Tribes that are related to gaming have begun to form online forums and platforms and if the trend continues it is expected that these tribes will form the basis of a new form of social media.