We've been in downtime for quite a while now, and it's time for us to post an update regarding the state and future of OpenCommunity! But before we move forward, let's take a look at how we got here.
Let's Start at the Very Beginning
I hear it's a very good place to start.
When OpenCommunity was founded, its goal was to create an inclusive space and community which is based on communication, collaboration, and solidarity, particularly as an answer to toxic movements such as Gamergate, and the beginning of the spread of right-wing movements which saw the spaces of many gamers - particularly women, feminists, and LGBTQ+ gamers - shrink and become more hostile, and the wake of the "LFG" world of MMOs, where people's worth and / or enjoyment of content was based not on the experience they had, but the loot they received, or achievements they achieved at the end, reducing the social aspect of games to a minimum, and creating an environment where people treat each others as NPCs which they can use in order to finish specific content.
The aspect of organising events came about as a secondary aspect as a result of who the community's founders were; every single founding member of OC staff was a Triple Trouble commander in GW2, and thus, that was what we did most of the time, and quickly, due to the desire to create a sense of security for our members, we began making commitments in regards to in-game events, which at the time were easy for us to uphold as they were mostly how we naturally commanded anyway. So we created a unified event presentation, promised to uphold a consistent & regular event schedule, as well as set a specific standard of commanding and event notification.
Unfortunately, those projects never worked out due to the pressure of the daily requirements of GW2 organisation. Due to OpenCommunity's open nature, meaning anyone could join and attend the GW2 events we were organising, as well as get involved, we very quickly amassed a fairly sizeable following, but not of people who were actually interested in OpenCommunity's core ideals, or actively participating, or indeed the social aspect of playing together, but were mainly just interested in the events that we organised. In an effort to remain open and continue growing, we did not change our policies that resulted in this, and that's when OpenCommunity began to be seen as a service provider, rather than a community of players.
Fast forward to today, most of the community's members actually belong to smaller groups (guilds), which function as communities, or they are simply uninvolved and log into TS for events, but both of these groups only, or mainly, see OC as a service provider for events and a Teamspeak, which was not our intent. Even when we had a daily traffic of 100+ individuals, most people did not interact with other community members at all, and would log out immediately after an event was over. Such events are much more stressful to organise, and there is much less positive feedback (not in the form of written feedback sent to the forums, but rather in the form of a positive social experience), while commanders still invest the same, if not more, effort and care into organising the events.
As a result of people viewing us as a service provider, many members also have a degree of entitlement, as if we are here to serve them. This has resulted in many negative attitudes, some of which include constant messaging and harassment both in-game and on discord, as well as some amazing threats of lawsuits and demands that we do or provide certain things "or else". There were also cases such as people planning (and succeeding) in creating drama with the sole purpose of hurting those in charge, by individuals, groups and guilds.
Now We Here
OpenCommunity is now a combination of two concepts - one is a community of players who wish to find a safe, inclusive environment where they can discuss and play games together as well as share their creative pursuits, and the other is an open platform for events which are accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, these are incompatible concepts, as the latter draws a much larger crowd than the former, and a crowd which is not necessarily interested in the former's goals, or may even actively inhibit them, which causes instability and unhappiness.
Our commitment to GW2 events has also completely stalled any development of the community's other projects, and, the OC staff is seen somewhat like the staff of a restaurant, expected to take complaints and serve the needs of anyone, rather than as people who are just here to play games and have a good time.
So What Now?
As it stands, this model of a service provider is something that was never intended for OC, and is also something nobody in the OC staff really wants to, or can, continue doing, and as evidenced by our consistent inability to fill new managerial positions, is in general something nobody wants to deal with. This is a status quo that is very difficult to maintain.
We want OpenCommunity to become more than just a "stop by & get your loot" point for GW2 events, and to evolve into a community of gamers, creatives, and friends who enjoy playing games together, chatting, talking about their hobbies and sharing their creations!
Making the change from being just a service provider to an actual living community will not be an overnight process, and will be done in several steps. Our first step will be to try and ensure that our members who were only here for events will still have a place to go.
So here's how we're starting!
Step 1: The Task Force Awakens
OpenCommunity will no longer be a service provider in terms of GW2 events & raids, and will no longer be a direct organiser of scheduled everyday events. It will, however, continue to organise charity fundraisers such as the three annual Gamers Giving Back fundraisers, but this will be done with volunteer community members rather than pre-made teams.
However, a large number of our members and commanders would still wish to join and organise events, and we don't want to simply drop them, and we do want to support a place where commander teams and guilds can organise regular events. Before this ship can be steered into a new direction, we want to make sure we're not leaving anyone in the water. To that end, we want to help establish an autonomous group focused on events, made up of former OC commanders, guild leaders, and any other members who wish to get involved. This autonomous group would have the aim of eventually becoming fully independent from OC.
This autonomous group will be fully in charge of when, how, and which events they do, as well as set up their own structure, leadership, and internal guidelines. The scheduling and cancellation of events would be up to them, as would the recruitment, training, etc. of commanders, and they will have the full capability to unilaterally split from OpenCommunity at any time. The group can be a singular unit, or a collaboration between many groups (or guilds) working together.
In order to truly make this an open process where anyone can get involved, we are putting together a task force which will be charged with founding this new group. The task force will lay down the groundwork for the new group's structure and concept, essentially founding this new autonomous group.
We will offer our resources, advice, experiences, and guidance to the group, and during its transition to independence, it will have its own area on the OC teamspeak for events, but how much they choose to use, and how long they choose to stay, is up to them. We are hoping for a positive, constructive relationship, and an eventual amicable split. Here are our projected goals for this autonomous group:
Phase 1: Task Force
- The task force is formed from OC commanders, guild leaders, and any other members who wish to get involved
- The goal of the task force is to decide on a structure and direction for the group
Phase 2: Autonomous Group
- The autonomous group is up and running with its own structure, running events on their own terms, with the support of OC
- A section of the OC teamspeak will be made for the group to run events in, still subject to OC guidelines
- During this time, the goal is for the group to secure their own calendar/schedule, voice platform, and any other feature they wish to have. As these goals are being met, the level of OC observation will decrease until the group is ready to become independent
Phase 3: Independent Group
- The group becomes fully independent and no longer a part of OC
- The level of partnership and collaboration between the new group and OC is decided
Note that these are only projected goals, and the final result may differ based on further developments, and the priorities and decisions made in the newly formed group.
If you are interested in being a part of the founding task force, contact Stormmy Knight ( @ktommo10 ) - or keep an eye out for an announcement regarding the date of the first meeting!
Once this project is underway, more changes will be coming up in the community to continue the process of transitioning to OC's intended direction. This is only the first step OpenCommunity is taking towards its new horizons, and more updates will be posted as things progress! We're super excited to be starting on this journey - we're hoping you'll join us too!