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Watching the Seed Grow: Creating a Real World Around a Virtual One

Jonathan Baker from Klang Games at the Community Leadership Summit #2

Jonathan Baker heads community and communication at Klang Games.

In this talk at the Community Leadership Summit #2, Jonathan talks about the future of gaming and how Klang works on developing real worlds around virtual ones.


I work for a game development studio here in Berlin called Klang. We're currently working on our second game, which is what they call a simulation MMO (massive multiplayer online game). The premise is The Sims, based in the future. Everyone leaves earth for reasons I won't disclose and goes to an exoplanet that is habitable for human beings. The players have to colonize the planet, each with two characters, male-female, female-female, male-male, gender-neutral-gender neutral, whatever. And the idea is to build a society, asking if  you could start again, what would you do? How would you do it?

Build communities to survive

Eventually they will procreate, either through evolution or science space reasons or whatever. We'll figure it out, but each players will eventually have around 10 characters. And if you imagine a Tamagotchi where you set routines. In the game you’ll basically set routines and every character is based on AI. The characters have their own thoughts, needs processes, and you basically have to build this world.

The thing is, it's a persistent game. So that means when you log off, the game still runs. Unlike other games where you shut down. It is a MMO. You work with other people and the idea of this game is that you have to build communities to survive. We want the whole game to be community focused. We want to see social change. How would people interact if they could start in a community?

Building a real world around a virtual one

What we're trying to do, is not building a community, we're building a real world around a virtual one. For me it's a real world because people want to interact with each other and they want to feel part of something and feel part of this journey. We're thinking to the future and the community is a part of the process of the folklore as well.

Everything that we're doing has a reason. That's something that we have the fortunate capability of doing because we are heavily funded. We can take a step back and plan what we want to do in the future, like 10 years time. Maybe we have these grand reveals. And this is just a small little thing. Everything we do community based, has an Easter egg in it that will make sense years down the line.

We're not some person behind a corporate wall

That's what I mean, everyone is part of this world, whether they know it yet, but they will be. It is going back to more core community stuff. In games the hot shit right now is to have your community on Discord. The beauty of Discord is that you can have multiple channels. It's like Slack with dedicated servers, you have your URL and the call to action.

Everything we do goes to our Discord, so you can really build this core community of people. It's kind of semi closed off. We have a public server so anyone can join and it gives people the opportunity to interact with us as developers. There's transparency here. We're not some person behind a corporate wall. We are there, they know us. It's probably a bad idea, but I give them my personal email. I probably regret that at some point.

We want to have these meaningful dialogues with people, whether it's about the game or it's about living in Berlin. What is it like to be in a startup? What is it like to be in a gaming studio? In terms of the game, people can come in and ask us questions about the game. We host things like AMAs (Ask Me Anything) where people can come in and talk to us about these things. I do recommend using Discord. It's a beautiful place.

Changing the toxic gaming community

In terms of gaming, one thing I'm very passionate about changing is the toxic community gaming is known for. So we have ground rules, we have guidelines, we have all these things put in place to set the standard. We're living in Trump’s era. We are living in the era of memes. People don't realize the context of these memes. It's all about saying you are too young to understand what you're saying, but please do, this is a safe space for everyone. Let's be positive and let's build this amazing thing, be part of this amazing journey together.

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