Some of this may sound like sour grapes.
Some of this may be incorrect, despite my best efforts to have it not be. The angry ranting of a man who didn’t get what he wanted.
Some of this may be ill-informed, and thus I expect to be corrected.
This may also be a long post. Something I am not a fan of.
I recently ran a Kickstarter to help fund the second season of the show ‘Gamers Behaving Badly.’ I love this show. I think it’s funny, not because of my writing, but because of what the voice actors did with my writing. Any comedian will tell you that it’s the telling of the joke, not the joke itself that makes something funny. I also love this show because it celebrates the hobby I love. And I do love this hobby. I’ve been playing RPGs for 32 years. I have yet to become bored. I have yet to lose that youthful enthusiasm for sitting around the gaming table with other like-minded people, jumping into a fictional world and being someone who is not a desk jockey. Even though I am 46 years old and rather comfortable in my ways, the idea of “roughing it” and stuffing a a bunch of people into a hotel room for a gaming convention still sounds fun. I’m doing that very thing in less than a month, in fact (sidenote: Come to this con. It’s free admission). My record for hotel-room-stuffing is 12 people, by the way. It was at Gen Con. I’ve also camped when going to Gen Con, but that’s another story.
Anyway, my Kickstarter failed. It was very close to its goal, but as most people know, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and drive in movies. I didn’t make my goal, I get none of the cash. Does this mean the show is dead? Undecided. It certainly could still happen.
That’s not the direct point to this post. It is related, however.
I consider myself a fairly informed gamer. I belong to 17 Facebook groups that relate to RPG in some way. I follow over 20 communities on Google +. The activity level of these groups indeed does vary. Some have a heavy amount of posting, some not so much. I also follow many, many RPG industry professionals and bloggers and other fans on Twitter. I also am on an RPG podcast you may have heard of. I also write for the industry from time to time. Full disclosure, I do not frequent forums sites such as RPG.net or ENWorld.org. That said, I still would like to think that if there is something going on in the gaming world, I’m going to at least hear about it.
As of this writing, there are currently 205 Tabletop game projects on Kickstarter. Of these, I have heard of a whopping four total. On Indegogo, I found twenty four that relate to tabletop gaming, of which I’ve heard of zero. Neither of these searches includes RPG-media related efforts, such as projects by Zombie Orpheus and the folks behind LARPs: The Series (which has since expired). ‘Gamers Behaving Badly’ technically fell into this last category, but in essence, all are related. If you play RPGs, and haven’t watched any of the ‘Gamers‘ movies, ‘Standard Action‘, or ‘GOLD: The Series‘, or read the Knights of the Dinner Table comics (and soon the live action show), you are missing out. It is good entertainment, made by people who love the hobby as well.
And here’s where we get into the problem. Awareness. Despite some of the numbers that you might see from Gen Con attendance, the tabletop gaming community is very small. If it was huge, you wouldn’t have so many game designers working day jobs and then publishing games on the side. The joke about the best way to make a small fortune in the gaming industry is by starting with a large fortune, is very true here.
And this where I think we fall short as a community. Raising Awareness. Boosting the signal . We don’t, as a community, do a very good job of letting our fellow gamers know about things that maybe they might like to know about. We are content to sit back and enjoy the nifty game or piece of media we’ve found, but seem to fail to spread the word to other gamers, denying them the same pleasure we have. For some reason, posting on Facebook, G+, Twitter or in a forum is a step we neglect to take.
Granted, this is not true of everyone all the time, but it is true of everyone most of the time, myself included. You could certainly argue that it isn’t your job to market someone else’s product, and you’d be right. I would argue right back that in a community as small as ours, where marketing budgets are virtually non-existent, many companies need enthusiastic followers to spread the gospel of their game, and how much they enjoy it. Case in point. I discovered the game, Warrior, Rogue & Mage a year or so ago. In my opinion, I think it’s a great game for first time players, and a perfect system for con games, as it is very rules light. To that end, I’ve made sure to plug the game when I can. I’ve joined the G+ community. I’ve had my current gaming group try it, run an online one-shot with some of the Fear the Boot hosts, and plan to run an event using the rules at Fear the Con next month (did I mention that admission is free?).
Word of mouth advertising is the most potent form of marketing anything can have. If some game or some form of RPG-media gave you enjoyment, why not return the favor and let others know about it? Aside from showing support with your money, it’s the best thing you can do.
So, by now you may be thinking, ‘He’s really pissed people didn’t fund his Kickstarter.‘ Not really. I had some great signal boosting from some loud voices on the internet, and near rabid support by some of the people who did back me. Something I’m extremely grateful for. No, my Kickstarter failed for a number of reasons, and yes, lack of awareness may have been a contributing factor, but it certainly wasn’t the only one, nor was it likely the primary one.
Point is, I’ve felt this way for a long time. I think it’s because I feel the need to give back. Not just by writing and contributing, but by being a voice. A voice to inform other gamers about things I feel they should know about. I’m glad I’m not the only one, but there needs to be more.
A lot more.
Of course the irony here is that I know my blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic, so the odds of this post, encouraging others to be more vocal about the things they love, will see a very small audience.