Celebrating Player Appreciation Week in 2023

ko-fi Written by Andruid
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Fireworks in the background and the text: "Celebrating Player Appreciation Week."

Held annually starting the 3rd Monday of September, Player Appreciation Week honors the players of text-based games and their communities.


Table of Contents

    September is here, and it’s that time of the year—Player Appreciation Week is just around the corner!

    If you’re scratching your head wondering what this week is all about, you’re in for a treat.

    Today’s post is your ultimate guide to understanding, celebrating, and making the most out of this special week in the text-based gaming community.

    What is Player Appreciation Week?

    Player Appreciation Week is a week-long celebration held every year starting the third Monday of September.

    It’s a time when multi-user dungeon (MUD) administrators, developers, and community managers come together to honor the lifeblood of their games—the players.

    This week is all about saying a big “Thank You” to the people who make our virtual worlds come alive.

    The purpose of the holiday

    So, why do we need a whole week dedicated to player appreciation?

    Well, it’s simple. Players are the heart and soul of any thriving MUD (or MU* or MUSH). They bring characters to life, contribute to the lore, and most importantly, players form the community.

    Player Appreciation Week serves as a reminder to show gratitude and give back to players. It’s a time to strengthen the bonds within the community and make our virtual worlds even more engaging.

    Because it lasts for a full week, there’s ample time to celebrate, even if your game has players from all over the world in different time zones.

    10 Ideas to celebrate Player Appreciation Week

    If you’re not sure how to observe the holiday or need some inspiration, no sweat.

    I’ve come up with a variety of ideas you can pick and choose from depending on the style of your MUD.

    These ideas aren’t just for traditional PvE or PvP MUDs, though. Some also work for other types of writing games, such as MUSHes, chat-based RP games, or those without a lot of coded systems.

    Feel free to adjust them in whatever way works best for your particular game.

    Host special events

    Special events are the heartbeat of Player Appreciation Week. They offer a break from the usual gameplay and inject a dose of excitement into the community.

    These events are designed to challenge, entertain, and bring players together in a unique way, but because of that, they may require a little planning to execute well.

    1. Treasure Hunts

    Treasure hunt map being unearthed in the dirt.
    • What: Create a map or riddle that leads to hidden treasures scattered across different locations in your MUD.
    • How: Use in-game clues that guide players to the treasures, such as objects, text, or markers they can inspect along the way.
    • Why: Treasure hunts encourage exploration and teamwork, making the game world feel more alive.

    Example event names:

    • “Quest for the Lost Relics”
    • “The Enigma Expedition”
    • “Cryptic Cache Quest”

    If possible, try to make this an event that players can participate in on their own time, especially if the treasure hunt will take more than 10-15 minutes and you have players in different time zones.

    Accessibility tip: Make sure the map isn’t a graphical or ASCII-only map, or you’ll frustrate and disappoint your screen reader users.

    2. Tournaments

    Two fencing opponents engaged in a duel.
    • What: Organize player-vs-player tournament(s). These don’t have to be strictly focused on combat. Depending on the nature of your game, they could be contests of riding, crafting, magic, or other skills.
    • How: Create brackets and let players sign up to battle each other. Offer in-game rewards for participants. If you don’t have the coded support for tournaments, decide the outcomes using traditional dice rolls.
    • Why: Tournaments foster a sense of friendly competition and community, and they’re a great way for players to show off their skills.

    Example event names:

    • “Arena of Champions”
    • “Gladiator Showdown”
    • “Warrior’s Gauntlet”

    3. Roleplaying Sessions

    • What: Schedule roleplaying events with unique storylines.
    • How: Write a short script or scenario and invite players to take on roles, investigate a mystery, solve a puzzle, save a dude in distress, etc.
    • Why: RP events allow players to get creative and potentially even leave their mark on the game through the lore or timeline of events.

    Example event names:

    • “Saga of the Ancients”
    • “Chronicles of Valor”
    • “Mystic Chronicles”

    Give yourself or your admin team a few days to prepare for special events, and delegate tasks where able. Depending on your setup, you may be able to hand some of the duties off to a storyteller or trusted community member.

    Offer exclusive rewards

    Rewards are tangible tokens of appreciation that players can carry with them long after the week is over.

    Exclusive rewards not only make players feel special but also add a layer of uniqueness to the game. They serve as both motivation and memento, encouraging players to engage more deeply with the MUD.

    Because the holiday lasts a full week, you’ll probably be able to include most players in some way, but be careful not to make the rest feel left out.

    4. Limited-time Items

    An open treasure chest with an enticing glow coming from within.
    • What: Introduce special items that can only be acquired during Player Appreciation Week.
    • How: Design unique jewelry, toys, or artifacts and place them in a special in-game shop or treasure chest.
    • Why: Exclusive items make players feel special and encourage them to log in during the event.

    Example event names:

    • “Ephemeral Emporium”
    • “Artifacts of Eternity”
    • “Time-Locked Treasures”

    To keep things balanced, you may want to focus on cosmetic items or collectibles.

    Instead of introducing a new weapon, for example, you might offer a special dye or design that can be applied to any item of a certain type without affecting its value or stats.

    5. Double XP Days

    • What: Allow players to earn double experience points (or some other multiplier of your choice).
    • How: Tweak the XP earning rates for specific times, days, or according to a specified timer. Or create a “bound” item that automatically bonuses XP on use.
    • Why: Extra XP offers a quick way to level up, making this kind of event especially appealing to newer or less active players.

    Example event names:

    • “Rapid Ascension Rally”
    • “Power Surge Weekend”
    • “XP Extravaganza”

    To keep players from feeling left out, give them a grace period to collect their reward or allow them to “activate” their XP boost when they have time.

    Engage the community

    Community engagement is the glue that holds many MUDs together. This event category focuses on activities that allow players to contribute to the game’s culture and community.

    Thus, these events give players a platform to express themselves and connect with others.

    6. Player Spotlights

    • What: Feature interviews with long-time or notable players.
    • How: Post the interviews on your community forums, Discord, website, or social media channels.
    • Why: Player spotlights give recognition to dedicated players and allow the community to know them better.

    Example event names:

    • “Community Cornerstones”
    • “Heroes Among Us”
    • “Legends of the Realm”

    To keep player spotlights from becoming popularity contests, try to shine a light on the underappreciated helpers or loyal, long-time fans who aren’t usually in the limelight. Cite specific examples of what these players have done for the game.

    Alternatively, you can select players randomly to keep things fair.

    7. Fan Art/Fan Fic Contest

    Half of a cherry pie next to a blue ribbon.
    As with tournaments, you can get creative when hosting contests. For example, you could even hold a contest for the best new in-game crafting recipes.
    • What: Encourage players to submit their own fan art or fan fiction.
    • How: Create a submission process and set a deadline. Display the results on your website, forums, or in your Discord.
    • Why: Contests give the creative members of your community a chance to shine.

    Example event names:

    • “Canvas of Heroes”
    • “Build-off Challenge”
    • “Imagination Invasion”

    Accessibility tip: If your community includes screen reader users, you may want to focus on a written contest rather than on visuals so that they’re included.

    Make it personal

    Personal touches can turn a game from a pastime into a passion. This category includes gestures that make players feel individually valued and seen.

    These gestures can create a deeper emotional connection between players and the game, making your text game more than just a virtual space.

    8. Virtual Thank-you Notes

    Colorful thank you notes.
    • What: Send personalized thank-you messages to players.
    • How: Use in-game mail or direct messages on your community platform.
    • Why: A personal touch goes a long way in making players feel valued and appreciated.

    Example event names:

    • “Gratitude Grams”
    • “Tokens of Gratitude”
    • “Appreciation Alerts”

    This is an easy one to divide among multiple staff over the course of a week, but if you have a lot of players, it may be tedious to track.

    9. Virtual Parties

    Glittery party hats and colorful streamers.
    • What: Host a virtual party in a grand hall within your MUD.
    • How: Decorate a specific in-game location and invite players to join at a set time. Provide unique food or drink.
    • Why: Parties are a fun, relaxed setting for players to socialize and celebrate together.

    Example event names:

    • “Realm-Wide Revelry”
    • “Festival of Unity”
    • “Unity Fest”

    If your game includes players in different time zones, you may want to hold 2 parties at different times. You can use a Google form to poll players on the best times, then go with the options that suit most.

    I know from experience that scheduling for a MUD audience can be tough. You won’t be able to accommodate everyone, so just do your best.

    Go beyond the game

    Often, the community around a MUD extends into other platforms and spaces. This category is all about leveraging those spaces to enhance the gaming experience.

    10. Discord Trivia Night

    • What: Host a trivia or game night on your community’s Discord server.
    • How: Prepare a list of questions related to your MUD, gaming, or other fun topics. Use a bot to manage the session if needed.
    • Why: Game nights are a fun way to engage with your community outside of the MUD. They also allow players to show off their knowledge.

    Example event names:

    • “Wisdom Wars”
    • “Battle of Wits”
    • “Trivia Titans”

    Some games have a built-in trivia system or channel, which could also work well for this kind of event. Hosting over Discord allows for many more game options, such as Jackbox games.

    Benefits of celebrating Player Appreciation Week

    Before I wrap things up, I’d like to take a few moments to talk about the benefits of celebrating this holiday.

    You might be asking yourself, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

    After all, running a MUD is already a time-consuming endeavor, and adding special events or rewards might seem like extra work with uncertain returns.

    But Player Appreciation Week isn’t just a feel-good event; it’s also a strategic tool that can have long-lasting benefits for your game.

    Let’s explore how this special week can serve as a catalyst for both player retention and effective marketing.

    Enhancing player retention via the “Loyalty Loop”

    Celebrating this holiday can help you build a “Loyalty Loop” with your pbase.

    In the world of business, harnessing a Loyalty Loop means creating a cycle of positive experiences to build customer loyalty.

    But for you, as a game admin, it means building player loyalty.

    Here’s how:

    1. Increased Engagement: Special events like treasure hunts or tournaments give players a reason to log in and participate, which increases overall engagement.
    2. Community Building: Social events like virtual parties help foster a sense of community, making players more likely to stick around for the social aspects of the game.
    3. Rewarding Loyalty: Offering exclusive rewards can make long-time players feel valued, which can encourage them to continue playing.
    4. Personal Connection: Simple gestures like sending thank-you notes can create a personal connection between you and your players, making them less likely to leave for another MUD.

    In other words, activities that support Player Appreciation Week can serve as key touchpoints in the loop, enhancing player loyalty and encouraging long-term engagement.

    Creating marketing opportunities to draw in new players

    When you put the “spotlight” on positive aspects of your game—such as special events, player testimonials, or exclusive rewards—you create a focal point that attracts attention.

    This can help draw new players to your MUD or re-engage those who may have drifted away.

    Here’s how:

    1. Social Proof: Player interviews and fan art are examples of social proof that your MUD has an active, engaged community.
    2. Word of Mouth: Fun and engaging events are likely to be talked about. Players who enjoy trivia or double XP events are more likely to recommend your MUD to friends.
    3. Content Creation: Player Appreciation Week provides ample opportunities for content creation, which can serve as promotional material to attract players to your game.
    4. Special Offers: If your game provides cosmetic rewards in exchange for donations, you can use the holiday as an opportunity to offer limited-time promotions to entice new players to support the game. This can be especially useful if you rely on the community to help cover costs.

    By thoughtfully planning and executing Player Appreciation Week, you’re not just celebrating your players; you’re also investing in the long-term success of your MUD.

    It’s a win-win situation that benefits both the players and the game’s growth.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    When is Player Appreciation Week?

    Player Appreciation Week is held annually starting the 3rd Monday of September.

    Who can participate in Player Appreciation Week?

    Anyone who is part of the community can participate. This includes admins, players, and even spectators or fans from the MUD community at large.

    Do I have to be an admin to initiate the celebrations?

    Nope! Players can show appreciation to each other (and to game staff) with or without admin-driven events.

    What are some other holidays similar to Player Appreciation Week?

    Check out the News and Events calendar for other holidays relevant to the text-based gaming community.

    For example, International MUD Day and MUD Staff Appreciation Day are two other holidays that celebrate players and staff.

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    Smiling blonde woman wearing glasses.
    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. “Be excellent to each other.”