Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Future of Talking About Games

Google + is now the hands down absolute best place to talk about RPGs. Pretty much almost no matter what you're doing with them.

After a little more than a year since the mass immigration, it's all good: High signal, low noise, trolls and backbiters die fast, people with different ideas crawl out of the woodwork every day, new ideas come out of nearly every discussion, it's kinda amazing.

And by "amazing" I mean "way less boring than the internet is supposed to be".

You can put up almost any idea and get useful new ideas back, mud-slingless. Almost all of the most well-known game designers post there and have actual conversations that actually go unexpected places and they can have them without any droolers showing up.

Thing is, it works on a nonhierarchical, no-boss, no-mod. social-link model. In simple terms: if you bore people, you're out, you can't even read the good stuff any more, much less comment. People with nothing to say are just left looking at each others' cat pictures, where they belong.

Now trolls and jackwads all have some things in common:

-They bore people and get blocked.

-They have an insane compulsion to talk even when no-one's listening, cares, or gets anything out of it.

-They do not consider themselves trolls or jackwads. Or at least not so much that they can understand why nobody wants to talk to them.

Which suggests the following thing is going to occur: all the RPG forums which aren't Google + or aren't on a similar social opt-in model are all going to get worse. Because the major reason to go to them will be that nobody on G+ is circling you and nobody wants to hear your ideas.

Which is nice, in a way, as it centralizes things while linking them, but Google + is not a very good gateway for new gamers--people who are not playing yet but are curious. They'll more likely find the blogs and forums.

There probably is some tag or group on Google + that sees itself as the gateway to newbies into RPGs but so far I haven't heard of it, which is a pretty good indicator it isn't easy to find or know about.

So....someone should get on that.

Oh, P.S. Google + tip:

You need to have an "inbox" and an "outbox." Anyone who posts cat pictures goes in the "outbox" and they can read your stuff but you never read posts in your "outbox" unless you're really bored. Just log on and read the "inbox".


StormBringer said...

Of course there is a novice friendly circle! :)

Anonymous said...

G+ sounds like internet heaven (as opposed to the internet hell that some forums are), now I just need extra hours in the day to be able to spend time there. :-)

jacinto said...

I guess my difficulty with Google+ is that I am in the looking-at-cat-pictures phase, and as much as I would like to hear all these interesting things people are talking about, I don't think I have anything particularly worthwhile to say. Not that this is unfair or anything; real life social situations require actual interaction, so it makes sense virtual ones would, too. But it's interesting to see. With blogs, you can be a passive receiver, a silent audience, whereas with Google+ you have to give something back, too.

Nick said...

So how is there to follow on G+?

Anonymous said...

I get all that Zak, but isn't there a danger that smelling the same old farts will get kind of stale, eventually? The Google + seems to me like a good way to have quicker conversations with established friends or at least interesting people you meet on the internet, but how many of the folks in your cirlces did you actually meet there in the last year?

Zak Sabbath said...

In the past year I met about a gazillion new people in the past year in my circles, but that's not the point.

Your larger point is just reiterating *exactly what I already said in the post* which is that G+ needs a better way to introduce new blood.

Anonymous said...

But you're saying it in the post seemd more like a footnote, while your larger point seemed to be that blogs and forums will now get worse.

I know you probbaly deal with a lot more in terms of trolls than I ever do or did or will ever have to... but my take on the whole G+ has been that the RPG world seems to be getting smaller and less persistent, and if that's the future I htink its sad somewhat.

The blogs seemed to me a wonderful way of brekaing up the sorts of cliques you get at forums. G+ has strikes me as a small step backwards. Yes you can filter out the noise, but it seems to move so much more quickly and be gone just as quick.

Zak Sabbath said...

I said the things I said and all of them were things I believe. None of the things I said were "larger" or "smaller".

I also didn't say blogs would get worse, you just invented that and attributed it to me for reasons I am at a loss to explain.

There were blogs and forums (and the forums were depressing) and now there are blogs and G+ (and the forums are going to be even more depressing).

As for long term effects? Make a bet, put a deadline on it and one of us will collect when the due date comes

Anonymous said...

I'm not interested in betting or arguing or assigning magnitudes of point, though you started it I might add. I see above that you did clearly write forums would get worse and not blogs, so mea culpa.

Trent_B said...

Word. (To all of that)

I see James' point about the potential for stagnation... But Zak's PS covers that.

And yes, I really think there needs to be some way of advertising to the greater Internet about the G+ RPG community. Something to create a steady (or even spikey) influx of people.

Obviously those people will get community-culled and shuffled into catcircle, but once the filtering is done: Net gain.

I have no input on how to make this happen... not yet at least. Need to think.

OlmanFeelyus said...

James C, there is quite a lot of diversity of viewpoints over on Google+. You can filter it however you want, but I think most gamers do it based on the criteria of respect and intelligence rather than on allegiance to any particular playstyle or game system or philosophy or whatever. I know my stream is a pretty rich mix of gamers, from storygamers to tactical types to old schoolers to white wolf fans. Where I draw the line are with the gamers who have some political agenda that they want to shove down my throat. It's been a real blessing to have rich conversations with people who don't agree with me without any of the bullshit ideology that I had to deal with on storygames or

The ecosystem so far has been quite effective.

Soyweiser said...

I don't really use google+ but isn't it harder to search and find old stuff in google+? Due to the fractured nature of all the different circles.

If it is in any way like facebook, it is impossible to search in the history for further back than a year. Even in blogs this can be hard. In forums I found it easier to find old relevant topics.

How does google+ do this? I assume there are guides to set up hangouts (sessions are called hangouts right?) and that these do get referenced frequently. Information feels so fleeting on social networks.

Lastly it seems that g+ has all or nothing moderation. So either somebody is totally in, or totally out. I'm more a fan of partial moderation. Where some valueless messages just get modded down, and the messages with value do get modded up. (que rant about people not being 100% serious all the time, some trolling, joking around is allowed imho. If it is a bad joke it would just get modded down) Google+ as a social network has doublespeaked away the minus mod.

(And every time I use google+ it seems to react slow. Then again, most google products have been doing this for a while now).

Soyweiser said...

Last post 19 jan. Links towards an external forum. And it doesn't seem to be about novice games, but vintage role playing. Did you post the wrong link?

dervishdelver said...

I have not explored the Google+ venue yet, so I'm speaking from some ignorance. I hear alot about it's usefulness for running games with others which I never got into. What troubles me a little is it's potential for exclusiveness (which some may interpret as elitist). It sounds like Zak finds this to be a benefit and to some, it probably is. But, it's not just the novice that will have difficulty accessing it. You may be excluding a large group of gamers who are not engaged in the creative end of discussions because it really isn't their strong points. Yet, this is the same people that could benefit from the conversation and would be thankful to hear others input. These are the same people who prefer to purchase large amounts of support material for their games instead of creating it themselves. There are some who just lack the time, talent, or energy, yet are not Trolls nor novices. This would be the group that it would be a shame to exclude because there is still such a thing as word-of-mouth that passes between people in real life gaming groups.

Zzarchov said...

As a side note:

Google+ lets you filter who you post information to. If you like cat pictures, it just means you don't send pictures of cats to people who are't interested.

It therefore also means you don't need to "give anything back" if you just want to passively follow someone else's content on a subject (say if you don't know much about it but want to learn).

Like I have an IT circle, a charity circle and many other circles as well, but I don't send IT things to my RPG circle or vice versa (though some people are in both).

A thing to note is don't post stuff public unless you think everyone who wants to hear things you have to say about specific topics wants to hear about this from you (which isn't the same thing as you want to tell them). At least that is how I operate, I could be wrong. Some people really only talk about one thing so its no biggy.

Zak Sabbath said...

Big fan of all or nothing moderation. Annoying people deserve to suffer eternally for their crime.

Jeremy Murphy said...

I'm finding that my posts are getting big traction on G+, and I've had some super conversations about gaming there. It's been quite eye-opening in the last few weeks, seeing how active the community is on there.

DaveL said...

Thought I would check it out, since you've been blogging about it for awhile now. Cannot for the life of me figure out how to send you a message, or communicate in any way. It's totally counter-intuitive! How are you guys figuring this out? There's no obvious "help" file, and the unofficial help page is no help at all. The fact that I'm limping on an older slower XP machine doesn't help anything, either.

Zak Sabbath said...

do a search for my name and click on the guy in black and white with the asymmetrical hair

Soyweiser said...

Banished to the demiplane of Annoyance, where their punishment is each other. And pictures of cats.

wrathofzombie said...

I really dig the RPG community on G+. Funny you did this post on Sat when I did the same thing on Sat ( as well.

I've gotten good feedback about my projects, met some really cool people, and have had kick ass conversations that just don't happen on blogs, thanks to G+.

I also wanted to support the people on G+ so I created the Google + Rpg blog directory (, so we could find out if the people we have conversations with have a blog, and see their creative endeavors.

DaveL said...

ha! I accidentally figured it out...

Zak Sabbath said...


I didn't realize this until today when I saw it echoing around the chamber, but this is the (accidental and not James fault) first shot in the new I Hate You Because You Use G+ wars.


This is great!

Let the carnival of fact-abuse begin!