Top Five Things I Learned While Running A Facebook Group

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So you’ve decided to form a group on Facebook, fantastic! Facebook Groups are a great way to share a common interest with others. I should know, I successfully ran a videogame-related Facebook Group for 3 years. In that time, I learned to:

1. Promote a positive group culture by embracing a simple tagline that explains the rules – “Be excellent to one another.”

2. Recruit moderators that help shape conversations/discussions. Example: Ask followup questions and “like” responses.

KEY: Moderators are not policeman.

3. Allow conversations to run their course even if the discussion becomes uncomfortable.

4. Never threaten to ban people (see #3 above). Extend grace. If needed, talk to individuals one-on-one for clarification.

And that:

5. Growth is not measured by members added but by the conversations had.

So have fun. Ask big questions. Cultivate a group that you’d want to hang out with in real life.

Moving on

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I stepped down as Community Manager of Theology Gaming a few weeks ago. After three years of cultivating conversation and community, I’m done. The mental background noise of what began to feel like a part time job has diminished. I am free. And yet, I miss the online community where I could throw ideas at the wall to see what stuck.
Right now, I find myself evaluating:
  • Where to go next.
  • What to do with my blog.
  • And on a deeper level, what it means to interact with others online. The internet is weird when it comes to relationships. Instant messaging brings about a false sense of freedom in conversation. You find yourself saying things that you’d never say in physical space. Even weirder, the internet lacks permanence. You can talk to people for years and then poof, they are gone. What does that mean? How are we supposed to react?

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JohnnyBGamer has always been my space, online, to create and share. That won’t stop anytime soon.

Miitomo

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The legacy of the Mii, Nintendo’s player avatar creations, continues with Miitomo. Uniting iOS and Android users, Miitomo is a personable social network experiment. Inhabited by Facebook and Twitter friends, Miitomo encourages and rewards players for:

  • Answering questions
  • Reading, listening, liking, and responding to your friends replies

Gamification of Social Media: Check

There is also an odd game within the game called Miitomo Drop (drop a player down a board, hope they hit something valuable). As well as options to buy and dress up a player’s Mii. Style points awarded, of course.

Beyond the spongy exterior, the heart-filled frosting of Miitomo tastes hollow. There just isn’t much to do in this app. Yes, Nintendo has done a great job building an oddball social network. I keep wondering though where the gameplay hook is.

As a longtime Animal Crossing fan, the ability to decorate your Mii’s space would be most welcome. Minigames in the vein of the 3DS Mii minigames (Find Mii, Puzzle Swap, etc.) would elevate Miitomo to another level. Nintendo excels when they take a simple concept and refine the player experience.

Miitomo makes great first impression. The missing gameplay hook, the reason to stay and enjoy this weird world, must be found. Mario is indeed missing.

A Call: Moving Beyond Artificial Relationships

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There comes a point where we are talking past one another. More interested in communicating our points of view versus practicing active listening. Direction, or more so the lack of it, unites us towards the brink of nothing. As a truck stuck in the mud, we are spinning our tires, flapping our collective jaws. We have no power, no authority, no solid foundation. Our relationships are artificial. Welcome to an age lacking any sort of relational depth, welcome to the age of social media.

Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, both are tools that provide instant connection and communication across the globe. We can use these tools to promote change, voice ideas, and escape our everyday lives. Yet, our online interactions lack the tangible, the real. Body language, fluctuations in tone/voice, growing with one another, all lost in translation. We get to where we think we know others based on how much information we have shared about ourselves. As if time and information mean something. And they do. They equal relationships bobbing on the surface of life.

  • Who are you spending time with?
  • Are you even leaving the house?
  • When was the last time you looked away from your screen and made eye contact with another human?

Surface level relationships will never go beyond the surface. Diving equipment, time invested in person, allows us to get to know one another better. Being purposeful in our pursuit, this is key. We have to make time to have time to spend with others; We have to get over ourselves, move beyond technology.

An invitation to go for a walk, time set aside to enjoy nature and listen. Spending the lunch hour eating with a friend. Time invested. Physical time. We need more of this. We need to do this.

Be purposeful. Love people. Seek those around you who need a friend. We are all lonely. We want those around us to see us as we are. Help others get to know you. In the process, you can get to know them. Live life. Move beyond the surface and into the deeper waters.

Realize that this process takes time and that it won’t be easy. Things that matter in life never are.

We can do this.

Yielding My Heart

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Last night, I taught a Bible study on the Book of Joshua, chapter 24.  A chunk of Joshua 24 is about the Israelites recommitting themselves/ renewing their covenant to follow God. Towards the end of the chapter, right after the people have agreed to the covenant, Joshua exhorts the people to:

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (NIV)

This got me thinking about the “foreign gods” that I allow into my own life. One of my daily routines, when I wake up, is to check:

  • My email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • WordPress (for blog stats)
  • and the weather

I do all of these things before ever engaging in a conversation with my wife, let alone spending time with God. In a way, I have let social media become a god. So, today I didn’t go through my morning routine. Instead, I read my Bible for a bit (had trouble focusing) and then prayed for awhile. My time of prayer was awesome! I’ve been learning not to beat around the bush but to tell God exactly what I am thinking (even though He already knows).  In an act as simple as putting down social media as the first thing I engage in, in the morning, I have “yielded my heart to the Lord”.

What foreign gods do you need to throw away? What is keeping you from yielding your heart to the Lord?

Fight The Distraction!

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Sitting in Church on Sunday, before the service had begun, I curiously watched friends surf Facebook with reckless abandon. No doubt updating their peeps on their latest and greatest thoughts or browsing through pictures posted of some nameless persons trip to Zanzibar (where the Zanzibarbarians live, ask Gonzo). Over on Relevant.com, Shane Hipps has written an article exploring the narcissism that Facebook brings out in us.

It encourages not just self-absorption, but, more accurately, self-consumption. We become creators and consumers of our own brand.

While I agree with Shane on his observation, I also believe that Facebook isn’t the only distraction fighting for our very souls. Mobile technology, which makes texting, browsing Facebook, and surfing the web possible is killing the art of face-to-face communication.

How many of you have had conversations with friends in which the friend has sat there and texted/ talked to you at the same time? I would probably guess that this is becoming the norm. For myself, I find this behavior to be extremely rude. I have always made face-to-face communication a priority. I have even gone as far as turning off my phone so that I am able to solely focus on the person I am talking to. Now I have nothing against cell phones or texting, but I do have a beef with fellow conversationalists being distracted when I am trying to talk to them. People who text and talk at the same time practically scream that they do not care about the person they are talking to. Multitasking, which is what texting while talking is, is one of the great lies of our time. Therefore, I call on my friends, family, and readers (all 2 of you) to practice a little thing called manners. Fight the distraction!

Surf Report – 10/9/10

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Welcome to the Sunday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

Our motto here at JBG is, “because there is more to life than just games”. The individual sections of God and Life exist in an effort to explore the world beyond the flickering screen. In addition to venturing into topics outside of video gaming, such as faith and life, we have also pushed an overall agenda of moderation. Video games, as with any other hobby, are meant to be consumed in a healthy manner. I have personally witnessed, both in my life and others, the impact of excessive gaming (late nights, lost jobs, and loss of friends). The results of embracing gaming as a lifestyle are certainly destructive when taken beyond normal levels.

Recently, I got thinking about how JBG’s mission extends just beyond the gospel of moderation. I quickly came to the conclusion that we are also here to preach against distractions. For me, gaming can be a distraction; for others it can be something as simple as trolling Facebook. All the noise and media we intake on a daily basis can lead us to neglecting the spiritual sides of ourselves. Basically, distractions can cause us not to hear God’s voice –I am not saying that He speaks audibly, but I am also not saying that He can’t!-.

The question I want to ask you, on this wonderful Sunday, is this: What is distracting you? If it is video games, why not take some time away from them; if it is Facebook, why not take an extended vacation. A thought to ponder on.

.: Life :

What have you been reading lately?

Over the summer I happened to purchase a Nook for my birthday. This delving into the land of e-books has caused me enjoy all sorts of fantasy books. Everything from the first book in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series to more recently, First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks. At first, I found the Shannara book to be wordy and the story cliche. As I have progressed, however, I have been suddenly surprised by where the story is taking me. Perhaps Brooks isn’t a Tolkien hack after all.

Syp, over @ BioBreak, posted last week on what books he is reading. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about new books! Check it out.

.: Gaming :

When I have had time for gaming, I have been diving into The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Absolutely amazing! If I hadn’t had my nose buried in the 90’s, with a SEGA Genesis, I probably would have discovered this gem! So far, I have managed to obtain all of the pendants and the Master Sword. Until next time.

That’s it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!