Stop managing your community debt

Building a game community takes a lot of work.

But regardless of the work, if you started one, you need to stay committed.

If you don’t, you’ll be managing your community debt.

Trust me…that’s not fun.

What is community debt?

It’s basically when your community suffers from neglect and can become toxic.

I did not coin this term.

That credit goes to Kitfox Game’s Captain Tanya X. Short. (You really should follow her on Twitter if you don’t already).

Acquiring community debt happens to a lot of devs and studios.

What’s interesting about this, I’d say most of us understand the importance a community has for games and studios.

Then why so much community debt?

Decisions are easy

Let’s talk about financial debt real quick for a second.

The simple reason any of us acquire debt is this.

You made a decision.

Regardless of the reason for that decision, you ended up making a commitment.

And if you don’t stay committed to the responsibilities associated with that decision, there are consequences.

This is important to emphasize because it’s never the decision that’s hard. It’s the commitment.

Understanding commitment

We know the benefits game communities have and this understanding leads us to decide to create one.

What we don’t always know or fully understand, is what’s required to commit.

We always have the best intentions and plenty of examples of how this can be achieved.

However, these usually don’t give us the full breadth of what’s required to stay committed.

Last email newsletter I shared Victoria Tran’s blog post about budgeting to build your community.

She provides a great breakdown not just from a financial perspective, but what resources and tasks are required as well.

I’m sharing this because if you’re going to understand commitment, you’ll also need to set expectations for yourself and your team.

It’s when those expectations aren’t set and in line with a team’s capabilities and resources, that I see most studios begin to acquire community debt.

That becomes the uphill battle that Tanya refers to in her Twitter post.

And when you start managing your community debt.

Let’s stop that.

Look at your game community as an asset

As much as commitment and setting expectations are important to understand, so is your mindset.

We probably don’t like to look at game communities as assets.

It kind of makes things less…human.

But, a community is an asset.

And treating it like one will provide you with a more practical and objective lens.

It doesn’t mean you have to be less human.

If anything, this mindset will help you be more empathetic.

And having empathy is one main ingredient that can help turn your community debt into an asset.

Staying committed with your community

So time for the million-dollar question.

What does it take to stay committed?

Purpose and consistency.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone and oftentimes the answer to most million-dollar questions are things we’re already aware of and may even seem obvious.

But doesn’t this sound similar to something we mentioned earlier?

…I’d say most of us understand the importance a community has for games and studios. Then why so much community debt?

And like earlier, the answer lies in what you understand.

Truly understanding your purpose will help dictate your actions with clarity.

That confidence can make it easier to operate with consistency. When your actions have a purpose, you’re no longer guessing what you should be doing next.

When all of these things align, the commitment becomes part of your purpose and vision and will drive all of your indie game marketing.

It’s at this point your community will notice your effort and you’re not dealing with community debt.

Instead, you’re building an asset.

So as you look at your game community’s future, don’t just make a decision.

Make a commitment.

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