The Xbox Handbook is a book in progress. Xbox Live Clubs and Looking for Group is part of our massive look at how to use Microsoft’s entertainment console. If you have feedback about this chapter of the guide, leave it in the comments. I’ll address it in an update. The Xbox Handbook will arrive as a downloadable book in the Kindle Store later this year.

When you’re building a community or anything as large as Microsoft’s Xbox Live, you need a way to connect people. For years, Microsoft has basically counted on three Xbox Live features bringing people together. Gamertags let them create their own personality and interact with each other. Messages let users talk directly. Parties give everyone a single digital room to hang out in.

For the first time in a long while, Microsoft is giving users new ways to interact over Xbox Live. Clubs are digital hangout spots that anyone can create at their leisure. The somewhat clumsily named Looking for Group lets gamers put out a call to arms for other players.

Xbox Live Clubs

What are Xbox Live Clubs?

Remember when you were a kid? Think back to a place where you and your friends had a special place that you could go, a place that was just for you and no one else. Maybe that place had a special mailbox where you and your friends could leave messages? Perhaps you all met there every time you had something fun that you wanted to do together. I’m sure that you can picture the “Boys only” or “girls only” sign in your head right now. Personally, the sign outside my hangout made it clear that only Star Trek Voyager fans were welcome.

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Xbox Live Clubs are designed around the same concept. For years, gamers have turned to Facebook to be able to connect. The social network has offered an easy to create groups for years. These groups can be set to a specific topic, and invites can be controlled. Xbox Live Clubs have the same options.

They’re also expanded. When someone creates an Xbox Live Club, they’re free to set a bunch of parameters. They can say that they only want to be able to send out invites, or they can decide that everyone is invited. Tags help everyone identify what type of gamers that club is looking for. For example, there are tags reminding members to have their mics ready and others encouraging casual users to join.

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On the Xbox One and on Windows, Clubs look like Game Hubs, but they feature different sections. There’s a chat for quickly communicating with everyone in the club. The Feed area lets you get a general idea of what everyone in the club is talking about. The creator of that club gets to decide what games the club is linked to. There’s also a dedicated Looking for Group area in each club, but we’ll get to that later.

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Xbox Live Clubs surface in the Community area and the Games Hub and in your Xbox Guide. You can only subscribe to 24 of them, though I’m sure Microsoft is betting that most people will be happy with just a few.

Looking for Group

What is Looking for Group?

If Xbox Live Clubs are those friendly retreats from our times when Power Rangers was still a movie franchise, Looking for Group is the replacement for your old walkie-talkie. Ok, maybe it’s better to compare it to an old landline phone. Essentially, it’s you reaching out to the different members of Xbox Live for some play time. In some circles, Looking for Group is the best thing to happen to Xbox Live in a very long time.

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The feature integrates directly with all the other community systems. Creators of an LFG can specify a time and date that they want to play a game. As with Clubs, those that make an LFG are able to add tags that tell users exactly what kind of activities they’re into. For example, Gears of War 4 LFGs usually consist of people looking to play Horde Mode.

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Those that come across your LFG are free to show their interest. You’re then able to dive back in to the LFG post you made and start an Xbox Live Party with all those that are interested. The creators decide when they want the multiplayer session to take place and how many players they need.

Together, these new features form the basis of a new Xbox Live, one that’s a bit easier to find and make friends on.