In my youth, my gaming community consisted of my classmates and neighbors. No one in another state and surely no one from another country. Basically, if you couldn’t come over to my house after school or on the weekend, we weren’t gaming together. The couch was our lobby and no headsets were required.
For many of us, including myself, those days are long gone. I can’t imagine knocking on my neighbor’s door, being invited in and plopping on their couch to play a video game. I actually can’t imagine my neighbors playing video games in general–maybe their kids, but not them personally. So in order to find a community, I, like so many others, expanded my search and turned to online gaming communities.
I knew I wouldn’t fit into any gaming community; I needed a place that was built upon respect, kindness, inclusiveness, and fun. It’s not an easy balance to find within gaming, as egos, selfishness, and cruelty can find its way into any group. However I did find one, albeit through my wife’s recommendation, called The Syndicate Gaming Network (SGN). This group strives every day to meet the SGN motto, “Come for the Gaming, Stay for the Community.”
SGN isn’t a clan dedicated to a single game or platform nor even to a handful of games. Yes, there are some popular games that the majority of the community plays, but many members play a variety of games. While the diversity does spread the community thin at times, with communication platforms such as Discord, members are able to chat through text and voice no matter where they are or what gaming platform they play.
The framework is there to meet gamers that want a safe environment to be themselves and to find others to play games with. Of course this doesn’t mean instant friends. It still takes work to build friendships. You have to interact, join in the conversations and try to jump into games. Sometimes it even comes down to timing when you account for the different time zones. It can be frustrating when you’re online ready to play yet everyone else is asleep or at work. For me, I struggle with depression and anxiety and am already quiet in nature, so interacting with strangers isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, I’ve managed to make quite a few friendships along the way.
Gaming brings people together and it’s what brings gamers to SGN. Some pop in for a short while and move on. Those that stay are the ones that partake in the community beyond gaming. They stay for the conversations which range from gaming, to movies and entertainment, to everyday life, to our different tastes in food. Whether you’re the one person who loves ranch dressing on everything or the diabolical heathens that refuse to have pineapple on their pizzas, you’re welcomed into the community. For others, SGN is home or at least a home away from home.
Some of the best experiences in SGN aren’t even game related. The SGN movies nights are an absolute blast. You don’t need to be in the same physical location to watch a movie anymore. You can use a program that allows you to create an online room where you can watch with others. And coupled with Discord, you can chat with your friends while watching. There is usually no shortage of laughter on these nights. For me, perhaps the most memorable moments were when the stars aligned and a few of us met up in person. It was a celebration of our friendships that we built online where we finally got to have a beer together, tour through an art museum and simply hang out.
The Syndicate Gaming Network embodies the good side of gaming. It’s a place to come hang out with people that accept you for who you are, play games with and not have to worry about impressing anyone. SGN isn’t perfect and always looking for ways to improve, to be more welcoming, to engage with members, and to not leave anyone feeling left out, which does happen. However, it’s still a safe and fun place for gamers to unite behind and also just take a break from gaming, whether it’s to chat or take part in non-gaming activities. SGN is a home for gamers.