Community-Based Research: What Do Players Want?

Infiltrate the community, and you'll be able to uncover their secrets.

When you're writing guides, you have to have an idea of what players want to know more about. You need to know what questions they're asking.

Do they need boss, weapon, or class guides? Bug fixes? Achievement lists, loot tables, or ending guides? Is there one level or area that's giving everyone particular trouble?

Whatever it is that players need, it's your job as a guide writer to give that to them. But figuring out what exactly that is can be more than a little frustrating if you don't know where to look. That's where community-based research comes in.

Community-based research is exactly what it sounds like -- spending time perusing the community to find out what's on players' minds. This is a great starting point for finding possible guide content and getting some initial ideas that you can research further, or for looking deeper into leads you've discovered via keyword research in Google Trends or the like.

Here are a few places that you can visit to find out what the community is interested in:

Official Game Forums

Most games these days have their own forums attached to official websites. Lurking in these forums can help you uncover commonly asked questions and issues that the community is talking about. If you see a question pop up more than a few times in a forum, chances are it's prime guide content -- because more and more people will be searching for it as time goes on.

(Pro tip: You can even revisit those forums after the fact and post your guide in relevant threads, if the forum rules allow it.)

Reddit/Relevant Subreddits

Most interest-generating games have entire subreddits dedicated to community interaction, and many of these subreddits are active and helpful in finding potential guide content. 

When Pokemon Go launched, for example, I took to the PGO subreddit to see what issues people were having with the game, and what fixes other users were suggestion. Then I compiled all that into a guide on APK issues, infinite loading screens, and other common issues in the game. It instantly skyrocketed to the top of Google search results for Pokemon Go troubleshooting articles.

Even outside of finding good guide material, subreddits are also an invaluable tool in seeing what the community is happy or angry about, and gauge what kinds of articles they might latch onto and what topics have gotten them talking.

Fan Sites

These are kind of like a subreddit and an official forum combined. Fan sites usually have forums of their own, where fans gather to chat and publish content and editorial pieces about their game. There are often active commenters who are looking for or providing insight into specific things about the game or voicing opinions on certain topics.

Steam Community Hubs

Go to a game's page on Steam and head to the Discussions and Guides sections of that hub. These pages offer excellent topic research opportunities and can help you see what sorts of guides or content already exists (i.e. your competition).

Steam Stats and Mobile Top Lists

Steam constantly updates its daily and concurrent user statistics, which is a great place to see exactly how large certain player-bases actually are and which games are going through rapid growth. If a game was nowhere to be seen on the Steam charts one day, and suddenly it appears and starts climbing, that's a great opportunity to jump on some guide content before it reaches its peak.

It's the same deal with the top lists on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This is a great way to catch games that are becoming popular before they actually get popular -- like Flappy Bird.

Use these resources to your advantage.

Even though players won't tell you specifically what kind of guides they want, the questions they ask in their communities and the games they get trending will give you enough clues to be successful. If you spend enough time in the communities listening to players and watching game trends, you'll start getting a sense of what those groups want before most players even start asking for it.

Featured Contributor

Resident SMITE fangirl.

Published Sep. 14th 2016

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