If you Google ‘RuneScape’, you will find more than 8.5 million pages relating to it in some way or another. Some of them just mention it, some are huge fansites. Ignoring the 2000 or so hits from the actual RuneScape website, that’s a hell of a lot of fansites and websites dedicated to RuneScape. Obviously not all of them are fansites – I’m sure some of them are hate-sites, and others cheating sites, but even so, around this game (which you will remember I described as ‘huge’ in the last Thoughts on RuneScape), there is an even more huge community. There is also a pretty large amount of money being spent on RuneScape sites. The RSBandB server costs more than 200 dollars a month to keep online. If it were not for the large community that has built up around RuneScape, I would not be writing this now.
What makes this community so big, though?
There are various answers to this question. I will look at just a few of them.
1. The game itself is massive.
Those of you who read my last Thoughts on RuneScape will know I concluded that RuneScape is huge. There are thousands of things to do – minigames, quests, skills, PKing. Quests are the things that really offer the biggest difference, I think, as many people desperately need some kind of guide to follow to be able to do certain quests (do you remember those levers in Ernest the Chicken? I would never have been able to do that without a guide), although other things make a huge difference as well. There are many guides for things like pest control, PKing, and even basic things like keeping your password secure that people want guides on, and these are one of the principal elements of many fan sites.
Another important factor in this category is the fact RuneScape has a trade system. With so many people buying and selling things all over the place, it a lot easier to trade via forums, organising a place and world to meet, than it is trying to log into World 1 or 2 and trade in Varrock.
The fact the game is so diverse also means that a good community for help is both required and offered. There are many things in RuneScape that can be difficult, and a community is out there for help. People also look for item prices, or just some basic advice.
2. Those who play RuneScape are the same kind of people.
This is a generalisation, but a large number of people who play RuneScape are teenage males from the ages of 13 to 18, who like rock music and gaming, and are slightly more tech-savvy than Mr Average. They’ll also like good computer-made art, as well as fantasy and possibly sci-fi related things.
Now, thats is just a generalisation, but if you look at the people on RSBandB, it holds up for many of them. The fact that we’re mostly in the same kind of age group, with the same vague kinds of interests, means we can all talk about things that interest us. RSBandB, is built around digital art, computing and technology, as well as the obvious RuneScape, and these things are pretty similar accross many other fansites. This is all because we share these common interests.
Take a look at the signatures on RSBandB, and you will see various artists trying their best to make brilliant art, above and beyond the rest. If you take a look at the signatures of those on forums that are not designed specifically for the same kind of age/gender group, you wont see the same kind of thing. Many forums designed more for older people to discuss things have signatures flooded with animated gifs, or simply some text, rather than the clean and precise many people (me included) have on B&B.
And in matters of computing, browser share alone says quite a lot about the users. Many users use Firefox, Opera, or another alternate browser other than IE. As well as that there is an above-average number of people who use an OS other than Windows. And as can be seen in the RSBandB Tech Talk and Troubleshooting forums, there are a lot of people who know their stuff when it comes to computing.
3. Admit it, RuneScape is monotonous.
Ok, not always. But mining, fletching, and many other similar things are quite samey and monotonous for a lot of the time, and during these long periods of occasional pointing and clicking, we need something else to do. This time of monotonous mindless clicking is the perfect time to browse forums in a seperate tab or window. Yes, many of us set aside a time to browse forums rather than play, but I certainly used to browse forums, reading some posts during the time I was mining batches of essence. And the fact that is is easy to have forums open in another tab or window makes us do it a lot of the time, unless we’re doing something like PKing or staking a whip.
So why is the RuneScape Community so huge? Well, unlike last month’s Thoughts on Runescape, the answer isnt just two words, but it’s still quite simple: we all want to talk, we all have the time and opportunity to talk, and sometimes we all have a need to talk. These three things have created basic forums, which have grown and expanded into temples of innovation, discussion and friendship. With RSBandB certainly, the Informer, the Update, Skill of the Month, Events, as well as many other things bring people from all corners of the globe closer together, and once people have come together they stay together. People like to belong. And that is why such a huge community has sprouted out of the Java-based game from the mind of Andrew Gower.