Periodically I am asked why is it that I spend most of my time on Google+ instead of Facebook? I thought I would take a moment to explain and maybe in the course of the explanation, turn some more folks onto Google+.
Let me start by saying that I find Facebook to be a great platform for keeping up with friends and family, but when it comes to game-centric conversations, it’s woefully lacking. I am a member of only a few RPG and wargaming groups on Facebook and this number continues to dwindle down month by month. Why? The RPG groups specifically almost always seem to turn into a “What’s this guy’s story?” or a “Stat this monster” dumping ground. A dumping ground where very little meaningful conversations about specific games or topics are held. Your observations may be different, but those groups that I have belonged to or still belong to all seem to end up dumping grounds. When I or others have tried to start meaning conversations, they are often met with silence or trolls looking to stir up the place. These are the primary reasons I have very little gaming interaction on Facebook.
Google+ on the other hand, is everything Facebook is not for me. I find the gaming communities to more open and inviting and a place where meaningful conversations are the general rule. I also find that RPG game designers and publishers are more active on Google+. Their activity and involvement with the fanbase is a tremendously good thing! Many a time I have been able to connect with a game designer or even the publisher to ask questions and get speedy replies. That just doesn’t happen on Facebook for me.
Another aspect I really love about Google+ over Facebook is that Google+ is a more open and accepting social media site. I am an advocate for inclusion of gamers from all walks of life. I have found that most, but not all, of the gamers I associate with and all the communities I am a part of think similarly. This tends to lead to some very dynamic and interesting conversations. Much to be learned from connecting with a very diverse group of folks without all the normal trolls that loiter on Facebook, both on gaming and social topics.
One of the best features of Google+ for me is the ability to integrate hangouts or On-Air Hangouts. Hangouts, for those that don’t know, are audio and/or video chat sessions or hangouts as they are called. The On-Air Hangouts are a form of hangout that is recorded and saved to the initiator’s YouTube account. I have been playing loads of RPGs using Google Hangouts for several years now. Hangouts have their issues from time to time as Google works to enhance them, but by and large, they have been a godsend for me and my gaming. Hangouts are my primary method of playing RPGs these days. Connecting with local roleplayers that are interested in playing what I would like to run or getting into a game that interests me is very difficult.
Google+ is fundamentally and structurally different than Facebook and as such, it does require the user to learn the ways of the platform. For the record, the learning curve is not very steep at all. If you’re not using Google+, I would challenge you to give a try and see if it is more to your liking. It may not be, but you won’t know until you try it out.
On a side note, Twitter is a different creature. I use it for gaming related posts and this blog publishes there as well, but I have not adopted the 140 character world. The pace is such that it is hard for me to keep up with and it’s hard to have meaningful conversations 140 characters at a time.