Generation Z, or Gen Z, is the internet-native generation that follow millennials and makes up more than 20% of US population (US Census Bureau). They’re surrounded by millions of mobile games and consider social media as their second home. Instead of TV personalities, they look up to content creators who earn their income with product placements. With personalized recommendations surrounding them 24/7 and rapidly emerging trends, the fear of missing out might be considered as a defining characteristic of Gen Z.
Therefore, Gen Z looks for quick and easy means to obtain as much knowledge, entertainment, and socialization as they can.

Many social media platforms are working to adapt to those needs to meet the demands of this new generation. Short vertical videos are now available on all major social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This is because the format is perfectly compatible with the rise in smartphone usage and the general decline in attention spans across all generations.

The challenge

We can presume that Gen Z watches videos and plays video games in the same manner. They do not have time for lengthy gaming sessions, preferring quick “on-the-go” activities that give the player fleeting thrills and successes instead. As a result, the mobile gaming industry will continue to see high demand for hyper casual games.
But what are the consequences for games like Forge of Empires and Elvenar that were created with older generations in mind? With so many available games and communities, it is incredibly simple for all generations—not just Gen Z—to swiftly switch from one game and community place to another.

Hence, we need to adjust to the ongoing digital transformation when we want to develop new communities, maintain our existing communities’ engagement, and stay relevant.

The solution

With their strong desire for social interaction and online fame, Gen Z is open for any opportunities to stardom in their communities. They love to see when their own content, created with high effort during a contest, or maybe just a comment leading to much discussion, gets attention by many and recognition by peers and a game’s team.
As one example, community newsletters on Discord or short videos could highlight user-generated content like fanart or much discussed topics, motivating people to engage with us and the community.

In consequence of encouraging user-generated content (UGC), “social listening” is becoming more important for community management. It means that we should not focus on just being an appealing community for people that stumble upon our games. Instead, we need to be on the lookout for any chance to use the internet to integrate our communities and games into social trends. This way, we can give people outside of our dedicated community spots sneak peaks of what to expect when joining our community and make us authentic to Gen Z, fostering a tone of voice for our games on the internet. In addition, we should quickly react to trends and create not only game-specific, but entertaining and informative content that is valuable for many internet users.

As already pointed out, Gen Z craves social connectivity. They prioritize playing games to connect and interact with friends and other players around the world. It’s no exception anymore when game studios are trying extremely hard and add social features to their games that gives their players no reason to close the app. Others might only use social media platforms as a community platform since their players spent time on those anyway.

Believe it or not, but specifically for Gen Z, Discord is a great deal, because it enables them to meet other players for a voice chat, discuss random topics, and find new companions for in-game adventures. Instead of having different local pages, you can create localized community sections that people can decide to follow or not, making it easier for both moderators and multilinguals to be part of more than one part of the community.
Additionally, Discord allows incorporating gamification elements within our communities by utilizing chatbots. For example, you can reward players with XP for their engagement in the community, resulting in benefits like gaining visibility to exclusive text channels, roles, and Q&A events. These do not only enhance the user experience but encourage active participation in a simple and accessible way.

Nevertheless, Discord is no alternative to social media! A Discord server only starts to get interesting when you heard about the game or are a player already. Making no efforts on social media would mean to not reach new potential players. Community managers must use social media channels like Instagram and TikTok to engage with Generation Z as its importance grows. We can develop a feeling of community and draw in Gen Z by producing interesting and shareable content, organizing live streams, and working with influencers. By embracing the digital transformation and adapting our strategies to meet the unique preferences of Gen Z, our efforts will result in thriving communities that endure.

In conclusion, community managers must adjust to the changing digital environment and satisfy Gen Z’s desire for social engagement and online recognition. The key to creating healthy communities and remaining relevant in the modern gaming industry is to embrace social media platforms, promote user-generated content, and prioritize social connectivity within games.

– Vivien Redmann –
Trainee Community Management, InnoGames