Video game camaraderie on r/place – a lesson about community

Soapbox articles give our team the opportunity to share some personal insights. Kate has been following the Reddit art project for the past few days and wants to share some warm fuzzy feelings…

Disclaimer: The very nature of r/place means that the screenshots below can have some nasty imagery, pixelated nudity, and various other NSFW stuff. I have done my best to crop and censor, but still advise caution!

On April Fool’s Day 2017, the brains of the Reddit online forum community decided to invent what they called “r/place“, a giant blank canvas that allowed users to place one pixel every five minutes. The experiment quickly escalated from people posting random colors to various subreddits teaming up to create logos, flags, and other images. By the time r/place canvas was closed, a million people had taken part and it had become an internet legend.

The legend returned in 2022 for r/place’s five-year anniversary, and unbeknownst to users, the canvas was designed to slowly quadruple in size over four days, allowing for millions of pixels and new artwork to be placed. be produced.

So listen, this is Reddit. Even though the name is so warm and fluffy, I’m not going to pretend that r/place isn’t. also complete clusterfart. Between bots sabotaging a canvas with giant, hideous artwork and flags raised. way too much space and colossal streamers inciting their fans to ruin other people’s work, it was an absolute mess.

A place

Some of them are quite funny: one of the running jokes is that Canadians can’t figure out how to draw a maple leafas their iconic flag has been turned into everything from a red blotch to a banana and a teammate of Among Us hidden in every work of artif you look closely – and there is many nudity. It’s essentially Reddit’s own shower room.

But amidst all the chaos and memes, there is a touching story of communities coming together to represent their countries, hobbies, and passions. Unsurprisingly, for a website that is constantly online, many of these common interests are video games, and among flags, masterpieces, and references to things I don’t understand, you can find it all.

There are tiny pixelated Kirbys, Minecraft blocks, Pokémon, and even the Froggy Chair created and maintained by tiny, ferocious groups of people who have to watch their art while protecting it from “griefers” – people who just want to destroy. things. But it’s been nice to see even smaller communities also vying for their place: Rain World is featured prominently, as is Downwell, Baba is You and Enter the Gungeon, and even older games like Earthbound and 999: Nine Persons, Nine Hours , Nine. Doors.

The feeling I had in the very early days of Twitch Plays Pokémon was pulled from r/place: a heady, nostalgic combination of “oh that’s great” and “why though” plus a dash of “who are these people with all this free time.” I had very little to contribute so I was mostly content to just help maintain the integrity of the existing pieces against Scourge Of The Single Black Pixel, but it’s enough to make me feel like I’m part of the whole thing.

hollow knight

Just like on the internet, there are trolls and morons who just want to watch the world burn everywhere, but focusing on them – like the big picture of r/place – is to overlook the massive efforts being made in small communities. The fact that the Hollow Knight community and the Ori and Blind Forest community came together to create beautiful art is as touching as seeing the border countries’ flags declaring a truce with tiny hearts in between.

It’s not that r/place isn’t land grab. Pixel wars rage in contested spaces like the four corners of the canvas and the massive German flag that stretches nearly the full width, but there is a quiet peace between all the brawls.

To be honest, having spent most of my thirty years of life cruising the information superhighways, I hope you can understand why I’m so cynical. The loudest and most frequent voices are negative at best and bigoted at worst, and Reddit is one of the places best known for its communities of both. But a colossal community project like this helps me remember that most people aren’t, statistically speaking, jerks, and some are even better: creatives.

My Hat Mouse boy got his place!
My Hat Mouse boy got his place!

I don’t think there are many things in this world that are better for society than the forces of cooperation and creation. Reddit is bad at a lot of things, but bringing people together is one of its strengths, and I’m glad to see people using this collaborative tool for good. If only we could somehow use this unity, perhaps we could end wars forever.

At least console wars.

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