"Tens of millions of people throw themselves headfirst into massively multiplayer online worlds, their rules unbreakable and rulers unseen.
Setting out in search of the people pulling the strings of some of the more popular MMOs leads us to NCsoft's Brighton offices, where they're willing to divulge the secrets of their string-pulling ways. Keeping online societies sweet is no simple task, and the key to maintaining a happy community, according to NCsoft's team of happy community co-ordinators, is simple: just keep in touch.
"When we were at Memorabilia, the movie and gaming convention, in Birmingham last November," begins Martin Kerstein, community team lead on Guild Wars, "there was one player from City of Heroes who baked shortbread villains and heroes for the team. It's always very funny when you first meet players, as we only know them by their nick. There was this one PvP player who was always very outspoken, so at this convention in Germany I asked 'Which one of you is this guy?' It turned out to be this really nice, sweet kid," laughs Martin, "every mother's dream!"
Community management is an aspect of MMOs than many people don't consider, and just one of the things your lamented monthly subscription fees pay for. If you've got a problem with the game you're paying to play, there'll be somebody there to help you out. This isn't just about developers showing face at BlizzCon either; interaction with the community filters right the way down through to forums, in-game events, and even player meets."