Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's About The Right Size For Doing Certain Things

Been thinking a bit about this post.

It's one of those posts about growing the hobby.

I'd just like to chip in and say that, in at least one way, the hobby--or at least the Do It Yourself part of it--is about exactly the right size.

And that way is: its internal culture.

By which I mean: mostly the blogosphere.

By which I mean: you people.

I read and write about a lot of things on-line. Art, music, politics, books, etc. etc. And the Old School D&D blogs and their non-D&D-but-still-DIY ilk are the only place I regularly visit on-line where you can post a thing in a blog on a topic on-line and have a decent probability of not getting any completely idiotic fact-check-fail responses from subliterate morons.

Like, for example...

no, wait, I don't have to provide an example. Because you all know what I mean. Because that's the internet--lots of people talking and nobody editing and great gobs of stupid and tremendous time wasted trying to straighten it all out. I'm sure you can imagine your own examples.

Yes, these people appear in RPG forums and whatnot, but within this particular DIY RPG corner of the universe (I imagine it as being about the size and shape of Shiro's RPG Corner bloglist for some reason) it's like a little happy agora where people check Jerk at the door and come to play and talk about making playing better.

Once in a while, someone with no grasp of reality will decide to spew epic lunacy over at the blogs with lots of followers like Monsters and Manuals or Grognardia or Jeff's Gameblog, but they are obviously a minority and get thwacked by the general populace for it and then ignored, as is right and proper.

In general, though, people make games, they make game stuff, they distribute it for free, or for cheap on pdf, we get to talk about our new ideas about games with relatively little chance of people willfully misinterpreting us because they have no life and like typing, so far so good.

Now there's a good reason to grow the hobby: to get more players. This is a noble goal and makes sense and can improve peoples' actual enjoyment of their actual lives.

However, if the hobby does grow, then mark my words: there will be assholes. Right now, nobody who posts in the comments section of this blog ever acts like an asshole. It's magical and makes me feel all squishy inside. I never have to worry about something I write being taken out of context and used to spread Internet Stupid about me or one of the microcelebrities I play with. It's all very cool.

But if this thing gets any bigger, the dickheads will come. There are probably those of you who feel like they're already here. But, basically, this is a really nice time to be exchanging ideas about playing games and you all are a nice group of people to be doing that with and I really hope that the hobby can keep growing without taking off the jerkfilter for just a little while longer.


  1. Your posts are already being mocked on SomethingAwful. It's easy enough to laugh at a lot of the stuff in grognards.txt, but some of the posters are just spouting Bad Wrong Fun in hopes of getting noticed.

  2. The blogs have had a profound impact on the OSR. Yes the forums were the starting point, but thankfully some of our most creative types and those with something worth saying have turned instead to the blog, taking our little niche to a greater audience.

    Even more thankfully, the wankers who make visiting forums a misery with their unclever insults and sad little arguments, are few and far between in the blogging world. Seems they prefer the gratification of the instant audience that the forums provide. Besides which, if you don't like a blog, you ignore it. It's a bit harder to ignore the pricks on a forum.

    Our little niche (which is definitely growing nicely) is a much nicer and happier place since blogging became popular, thanks to people like you Zak. Much appreciated.

  3. >>However, if the hobby does grow, then mark my words: there will be assholes.

    Assholes are a constant percentage of the population, but they aren't everything. Role-playing is a social hobby, so worrying about what kind of person might show up seems a bit odd. When you meet an asshole, toss him. End of story.

    If the hobby does grow, there will also be many creative and awesome people that are part of that growth.

  4. To expand on David's comment, I think a signifigant reason for many folks turning to blogs was in response to the hostile atmospheres at various forums. Not the whole reason for a the blogging, but a factor nonetheless.

    Personally, after suggesting to a few particularly abrasive folks that they "should start a blog" rather than arguing vehemently with everyone who didn't explicitly agree with their opinions, I eventually took my own advice and left them to fight over the now empty barroom, as it were. Interestingly, a lot of those forums seem deserted now. Whether that's becuase the A-holes went elsewhere for an audience, or the audience got bored with the lack of A-holes, is anyone's guess...;

  5. You have no idea how much I needed a post like this right now. Seriously: thanks.

  6. I think you make a good point. In may ways the portion of the blogosphere your referring to got me interested in gaming again--something that the past few years failed to accomplish.

    However, when I've read in the past some bloggers talking about the extreme hostility of places like rpgnet, if leaves me nonplussed. The place I've visited isn't quite the hive of scum and villiany they paint it to be. It leaves me to wonder if their definition of "hostility" is really just "people not agreeing."

    What I'm looking for is exuberance and creativity,not so much doctrinal axe-grinding or dogmatism.

  7. I want the hobby to non-white teenage males. That is the direction I want to see the growth: genuine diversity.

  8. Its funning but before accidentally discovering Jeff's Gameblog I had no idea any of this was here. Rather, I knew there were gaming blogs but I never really had any interest in them because all I had seen was the same old song and dance performed by the same flaming trolls. I filed the existence of gaming blogs away in the backlogs of my mind and continued to visit the forums where I knew I was comfortable and a least casually known.

    So in truth, what we all fear will happen to an expanded fanbase does indeed already exist. In a scenario straight out of DC's Infinite Earths there are countless game blogs running parallel to our own that are not nearly as relaxed, creative, cool, fun and easy going with each other. I for one just don't visit them.

    The more of anything there is the larger the amount of its less pleasant elements to be sure but consider this...if the Jeffs, Jameses, Zaks and Noisms of the world are only 5% (just a random example number) of the total internal cultre of a few hundred bloggers, wouldn't it be possible to see similar talent if there were a few thousand? Sure there will also be a lot of crap but there is a lot of crap now. We just don't read it.

  9. You have enough followers now that I feel I ought to get the ball rolling with the spewing of epic lunacy thing, but unfortunately I have too much of a grasp of reality to make it truly authentic.

  10. I drag my net through the forums looking for ideas. I like to ask questions and gather information in them, but I'm not interested in preaching the word or making converts.
    Well, that's not totally accurate, I like to find like-minded people for discussion, and to expand my pool of ideas, but I don't fight with people who oppose my philosphy of gaming.

    There isn't any point, there is no gain for me or the OSR in yanking somebodies chain.

    I do make statements to try and explain and define what I think and why. Those gamers who are unsure why they arn't happy with contemporary game philosophy, but arn't aware of Old School approaches to the game may read this stuff and realize they arn't locked into the WOTC way.

    My blog is for my fellow Old Guard aficionados and those who may be interested in aspects of the game as we see it.
    At the same time, I don't mind at all if somebody takes my monsters and inflates the stat blocks up to 3e or 4e size for their own game. It's no skin off my nose, and if they kill PCs in other games, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

    I see alot less defensiveness from Old Schoolers in general than I used to see a few years ago. I think the explosive growth in number of blogs, sites, publishers,and general activity of the OSR related gaming of late has been very confidence building for those of us concerned with out of print gaming.

    Old School isn't a derided minority any more. Sure it's still few in number,and probably never will be dominate again, but there isn't a feeling of oncoming extinction any more.

    I don't feel I have to defend myself from philistines at every turn when I'm online, so I'm much less likely to take the bait when it's offered.

    Each of the blogs is a fountain of personal vision and a valuable resource, feedstock for the OSR. I think the people who will bother to read the blogs are already focused on looking for things to enhance their game, rather than dullards looking for a fight.
    The blogs just don't have the volume of spectators who can be riled into fighting that the forums do.
    I'm pleased when I get 300-400 hits in a day, and the people who visit my blog just about never attack my opinions.

  11. So is this a "It's not the size that matters" post from a porn star?

  12. When I first encountered the OSR blogs I was surprised at how asshole-free this place is! The discussions are much more polite and friendly than almost anywhere on the internet and it really restores my belief, that there ARE intelligent beings in the world wide web!

  13. "...I imagine it as being about the size and shape of Shiro's RPG Corner bloglist for some reason..."

    Shit, that reminds me I've been meaning to update that...

  14. @JimLoFP: "When you meet an asshole, toss him. End of story."

    That's actually what my long winded post is about although there was clearly more to it. Our need to internally police our ranks is, IMHO, poor and needs to increase.

    @Zak: A double thanks. The first for helping me know someone is reading what I'm writing and thinking about it. The second is for sending me a lot of traffic, including some new people.