Video games can be a lonely hobby. If you’re not into playing online multiplayer titles and your real-life friends aren’t interested in games, you may find yourself spending a lot of time thinking about games, but not much time talking about them. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but if you do wish to share your passion, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Social gatherings like PAX conventions or events at gaming venues like Fortress can be a great way to meet new people IRL, but these are few and far between – not to mention limited by their geographical location. Thankfully, with the accessibility of social media, there are other options for immersing yourself in the culture.
Instagram is an approachable way to incorporate social interaction with other gamers into your everyday life. Whether it’s posting pictures of your collection or writing full reviews of the games you play, there’s a place for it on #instagaming.
So to get you started, here is a beginner’s guide to making friends and building your community on the platform, based on advice from members of the Australian Instagram gaming community, including collectors, streamers, YouTubers, writers and more.
- Search for accounts that post about your interests
- Just start posting
- Post what you want to post
- Be engaging
- Engage with others to naturally build your network
- Try not to focus on the numbers
- Just be yourself
Search for accounts that post about your interests
‘Start off by following a bunch of accounts with interests or tastes similar to yours. Show genuine interest and engage with their posts on a regular basis. You’d be surprised how often people will be willing to do the same in return,’ says @qual_bert.
An easy way to get started is by searching hashtags related to your favourite games, genres or platforms, and following accounts you find there. If your following list is tailored to your interests, not only are you going to enjoy opening Instagram and scrolling down your feed; you’ll find it easy to leave relevant comments and hold a conversation. It’s always going to be easiest to talk about the particular games or topics you feel most passionate about. And as an added bonus, observing what like-minded people are posting can help to inspire your own posts.
Just start posting
You don’t want your account to look like a bot, so it’s important to start with at least a few posts with captions that show you’re a real human being. ‘Don’t worry about quality, understanding reach or hashtags etc. because the most important thing is connecting with people who share your passion. Whether that’s ten people or ten-thousand people, it doesn’t matter,’ @toohappygamers say.
You could start with an ‘about me’ style post to introduce yourself, or focus more on the visuals, and keep the caption short and sweet. Even if you decide that you don’t like your first posts later down the line, it’s easy to delete them once you’ve done some experimenting and found your niche.
Post what you want to post
But what do you actually post? You could try sharing aesthetic screenshots of the game you’re playing, flatlays of your collection, ‘shelfies’ or mini game reviews. There’s no one right way to run an #instagaming account.
‘Post what you like and what you enjoy seeing online, whether it be retro or modern games, focused around a franchise, or one individual gaming platform – whatever you like, that is what you should post about,’ says Sammy, @sammyfosgaming.
‘This way you will enjoy your time on social media (because we all know it can be draining at times!) and you will naturally attract other people who have similar taste in games. I’m more of an RPG than a FPS gamer, and if I posted about FPS [games] all the time I wouldn’t enjoy the content I’m making as much, and wouldn’t be as engaged with the conversations I have with other gamers.’
Before that statement sends you into an existential spiral, know that it isn’t as difficult as it sounds. ‘You don’t have to be on Instagram 24/7, but make your posts something that people will want to read and comment on,’ says Ben, @captaintrophyhunter.
An easy place to start is including a question in your caption for people to respond to. This makes your post more than a static artefact for people to like and continue scrolling. A question opens the line of communication, and it shows that you don’t just care about how many likes you get, you care about what others have to say. Don’t forget to give a thoughtful reply to any comments you receive, too.
Engage with others to naturally build your network
Once you’re happy with what you’re seeing in your feed and what you have on your profile, interacting with others will get your name out there and show your personality. ‘I think the biggest thing is networking,’ says Courtney, @cocofatale. She offers a number of ways that you can go about it:
- Liking and commenting on other posts to make genuine connections. Don’t just leave a generic comment, tailor it to that specific person and their content.
- Reply to every single comment and DM that you get. If someone comments on your content, ask them a question and start up a conversation.
- Reply to other people’s stories, ask them questions.
- Share other people’s content on your stories – but not too much, because you don’t want to be spammy.
Try not to focus on the numbers
It’s best not to be ‘focused on follower numbers or trying to get [people] to follow you back,’ Keiran, @hopk88_gaming says. ‘I found many people by just organically commenting on posts and starting conversations. I’ve never had anyone knock back a conversation!’
Just as you wouldn’t like it if someone spammed your posts with generic comments or followed you, then promptly unfollowed once you’d followed them back, other people don’t want to be treated like just a number. Even through an online platform, insincerity is easily spotted, so it’s best not to have your number of followers at the top of your priority list.
Just be yourself
In a sea of other accounts, many of which may be posting similar content to you, what’s going to set you apart the most is being yourself! What you write in your bio and captions, what you choose to photograph, whether you follow a strict theme or just post whatever it is you feel like that day – it’s all going to say something about you as an individual. To have the best possible experience on Instagram, don’t try to be anyone other than you.
Ev, @retro_ev_gaming, acknowledges that it can be tricky ‘getting past some of the anxiety of meeting new people (and not everyone will respond back as they could be as anxious as yourself)’ but says: ‘go in just being you … I met some great people through this community and I hope that we’ll be mates for years to come because of it’.
Ultimately, video games are designed to be fun, so sharing your passion for them online should be fun too. However you choose to approach it, aiming to be your most authentic self is always a good place to start.
Special thanks to the Instagram creators who offered their insights on this topic: @captaintrophyhunter, @cocofatale, @hopk88_gaming, @retro_ev_gaming, @qual_bert, @sammyfosgaming and @toohappygamers.