May 2, 2023

Communal Experiences

Welcome to the opening article in this mini-series focusing on Community in the context of MILEs! 

Theory around social dynamics is a topic that would far exceed the scope of a few articles. As a result, we will shortcut the process by focusing on examples and takeaways from these as an opening into the topic here and in the next article explore basic points around the theory.

The examples we will explore here are:

  • The Village Fair –  a Classic Participant Experience
  • r/Place –  a Modern Participant Experience
  • Twitch Plays Pokemon – an early MILE
  • Sky’s Aurora concert – a communal digital concert

Village Fair

To start – Genvid focuses on the digital space but it’s important to see how people gather at real-life events to see what we can learn transitioning into the interactive streaming space. A counter-intuitive and less talked about example is the Village Fair, one of the most time-lasting examples of a community gathering together. 

A photo of people at a village fair
The Village FairLearning
The fair is built around life in the area and reflects the communityBuild experiences to service the community’s needs / expectations
People can interact at their desired level of comfort, and have the space to create emergent content (eg. handling a stall)Create ways to participate at different levels of interactivity 
Participants can opt in / opt out at will during the experienceThe ability to join and leave is critical
Various activities to appeal to all ages / motivationsRemember to consider a variety of motivations in activity design


The Village Fair is very much rooted in the local, with people who know each other. r/Place is almost its antithesis in the domain – a digital participant experience that reunites strangers in an open manner. And yet, it does not fall into chaos and becomes a constructive experience where each person can find their space.

A mosaic of pixels placed by Reddit's users that contains multiple images.
Access to a restricted color palette (16 or 32 colors) aids community engagementLimiting the number of possible interactions increases engagement (with restrictions come creativity)
Enough space is present for all groups to enjoy the “playground”Each participant having the ability to choose how they can affect the event is meaningful
Visual medium allows for cross-cultural communicationThe use of a universal language / memes is important within participatory experiences
You can participate as part of a group rather than start something newParticipation can be aided with “joining” (faction, goal, etc.)

Twitch Plays Pokemon 

Twitch Plays Pokemon came before r/Place and is essentially the prime example of an early MILE. Once again, it’s about strangers in the digital space coming together to accomplish the same overt outcome, with its beauty in the journey’s moments.

A screenshot of Pokemon being played over twitch by the community
Twitch Plays PokémonLearning
1.17M Chatters, 9M+ Viewers 
Ie. 13% participation rate 
Chat is a limited participation tool for audiences; AND
Users don’t need to participate to enjoy the experience
Slow gameplay with limited inputs The experience is pre-built for multi-input & latency delays
Iconic older title with repetition creates community memes (“Praise Helix”)Lower variety of outcomes suffices as audiences latch on to salient points

Sky’s AURORA Concert

The AURORA concert in Sky: Children of the Light was an event that ran at the end of 2022 / start of 2023 and is worth looking at, in part because it highlights a key difference between digital and real-world spheres.

A screenshot of a user moving through the music stage in AURORA concert in Sky: Children of the Light
Sky’s AURORA ConcertLearning
Maintains real-world parallel by focusing on the experience and social bonding over material in-game rewardsWhat humans seek does not differ whether they go online or to a physical location (although what needs get fulfilled may)
Cannot replicate the physical energy components of a concertWe should acknowledge and consider that some elements will not transition from physical to digital
Simple digital interactions that are easy to engage withUnlike physical events, we can leverage digital tools to increase accessibility and the audiences we attract

We hope this initial reflection into the topic has been of interest to you, with the next two articles in the series to arrive later. You are welcome to come into our Discord server to discuss further with the team at Genvid!