There comes a time when a gaming community can become too big to be enjoyable. What used to be a central location for mature interaction and quality discussion devolves into a cesspool of memes, jokes, and trolls. If you’re tired of all of that, you ought to check out these lesser-known gaming communities instead.
Do note, however, that these smaller forums come with their own set of downsides. They don’t have the same amount of constant, active chatter that you’d find in a huge, international community. The pace is generally slower, which isn’t inherently bad, but it can take some getting used to. If that doesn’t bother you, then keep reading!
Depending on who you talk to, the fighting game community was the first to truly embrace competitive gaming as a concept. Some of the greatest players in gaming history have come from the fighting game scene and they’ve produced some intense moments, such as Daigo “The Beast” Umehara’s incredible comeback at EVO 2004.
Shoryuken, named after the iconic uppercut in Street Fighter, is the central forum for all things related to competitive fighting games. Whether you’re talking Marvel vs. Capcom, Killer Instinct, Tekken, or even Super Smash Brothers, they’ve got it all.
Shoryuken isn’t as well-known as it deserves to be – I’m always surprised to encounter fighting game enthusiasts who haven’t heard of it. If you care at all about this genre of games, you really ought to join in on the discussions. This community is one of the most active, loyal, and insightful in all the realm of gaming.
When it comes to MMO gaming, there are a handful of sites that have attracted the majority of avid fans. MMOBomb isn’t as popular as sites like MMORPG.com, MMO-Champion, MMOSite, and the other big names, but it does have a charm of its own.
What I like about this forum is its density. Many of the bigger sites tend to split themselves into dozens of topical subforums that end up diluting discussions. MMOBomb only has nine and they’re clearly defined, resulting in a clean and compact forum that’s easy to navigate.
Discussions cover pretty much every tangential topic related to MMO gaming (e.g., beta keys, giveaways, clans, suggestions, etc.) but the majority of the talk is focused on free-to-play MMORPGs, including browser games. The community is active, members are helpful, and there isn’t much toxic behavior here.
Game Jolt is the place where “all the best free Indie Games are at,” making it a prime location to discuss the indie gaming scene and find new gems that you may have missed otherwise.
What’s great about Game Jolt is that it welcomes both indie players and indie developers, yet manages to retain that close-knit community feel that’s often lost in the bigger indie-centric communities such as IndieGamer. More than just a forum, though, Game Jolt has a website front-end that regularly spotlights indie games and developer interviews, both of which really lend to that community-focused ideal.
But the greatest distinguishing feature has to be the non-obtrusive integrated chat that sits quietly on the side, waiting for you to join in at your leisure. With it, you can converse with other Game Jolt members and really get connected with the community. It doesn’t get much tighter-knit than that.
We mentioned TrueGaming in our roundup of lesser-known gaming subreddits, but this community is so great that it deserves a second mention. In fact, it’s so great that I’d even go as far as to say that TrueGaming is the epitome of what a proper gaming discussion forum ought to look like.
What makes it so special? The community’s strict dedication against fluff content, which includes idle speculation, generalities, sensationalism, memes, and weak topics of discussion. One look through the thread listing and you’ll see a level of gaming discussion that you probably wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.
Most of the talk comes from the point of view of player rather than developer, though there are the occasional threads that focus on game design and mechanics. However, for more of that, you’ll want to check out this other subreddit called…
In simple terms, ludology is the study of games and gaming. It isn’t strictly limited to video games but, for the most part, that’s what it refers to, and so it should be pretty obvious what is the focus of the Ludology subreddit. Here you’ll find semi-frequent discussions related to video game design, and to a lesser extent board game design.
Ludology isn’t for everyone. While the community is growing, slowly but surely, it could stand to be a bit more active. Perhaps it’ll get there with a bit more exposure. That being said, ludology does focus more on the scholarly side of the gaming spectrum so the subject matter may not appeal to you.
My recommendation would be that you give it a visit, browse through some threads, and see if you’re engaged or bored to tears. If it does interest you, please do contribute with your own posts.
What other lesser known gaming communities are out there? Feel free to share your favorites by posting in the comments below!