Sure, people say that they want more positivity, but negative topics are apparently are far more likely to spark conversation. My Tabletopocalypse Now post has 70-odd comments here at the blog (more than I’ve ever seen for any other post), as well as extensive (and varying degrees of ridiculous/frustrating/infuriating) discussions at RPGnet, ENWorld, The RPGsite, Circvs Maximvs, RPGgeek, and dozens of blogs.
I figured that there would be some hullaballoo over my post — I said as much in the post which preceded it. I completely underestimated the level of vitriol.
My take-aways from this:
- Some folks really don’t like it when you contradict their established beliefs. To the point of irrationality. They take it as an attack on their person-hood, even when no such attack could be reasonably inferred. The clearer you make your case, the less they like it. I stated my opinions, and gave my reasons. I even prefaced by saying it was nothing more than my attempt to put down some thoughts that had crystalized during a conversation with a friend. You’d think I’d killed their dog.
- Malcolm Sheppard posted a follow-up blog post with some pretty compelling evidence in the form of data from Google Trends. The result? Relative silence, in favor of continued defense of “the hobby” from my apparent claims of its impending demise (never mind that I explicitly was talking about the industry). The trends data can’t be refuted with anecdotal claims, so it’s far easier to continue to bash away at the strawman, I guess.
- A lot of references to this being an example of my “usual M.O.” or “yet again” or “par for the course” — apparently there is a perception out there of me being some kind of street-corner harbinger for years and years. Trying to wrap my head around this one. I can only guess that my statements of “hey guys, things are changing, and we could all make some pretty sweet money if we changed with them” gets translated by some as “DOOOOOM! DOOOOOOOOM! The End is Nigh!” I honestly don’t get it.
- The “GMS” bogeyman is alive and well. Depressing, but it is what it is. Especially depressing to see users at RPGnet who weren’t even registered back during the years of my earlier online excesses, sagely make grand pronouncements about how “GMS thinks this” and “GMS always does X.” Hard to crawl out from under that brand — a million positive actions don’t matter; all it takes is doing one thing that somebody disagrees with, and it’s instantly placed into the negative “GMS” template and broadcast world-wide, maintaining the meme. Hard conversation to have with your kids, who stumble upon this stuff.
- A lot of people are willing to criticize statements that either a) they haven’t actually read, or b) didn’t understand. I’m still mostly catching crap for saying “the hobby is dying”, which I didn’t say.
- A lot of pros are interested in discussing what this all means, and how things will shape out. Unfortunately, there are also a lot who react like the forum-gamers, and still others who like to dog-pile because it’s a cheap way to build up some quick forum-cred marketing. “Yeah, what a dick. Thankfully WE know better!” I shouldn’t be surprised, but I continually forget that a low bar for entry means more than just democratization of content.
A lot of folks asked “OK, so now what?” — basically, if that’s what I think, what am I doing about it? I’ve been evangelizing about that for a couple of years now, but I guess since it wasn’t negative (and thereby not easily dovetailing with the oh-so-spreadable “GMS” brand-meme), not many paid attention.
Short answer: Game companies should expand their offerings, and ‘fish where the fish are.’ This means presenting our settings in multiple formats, offering more than just games, but also offering different types of games to attract gamers from outside the tabletop hardcore. Expansion of the base is easier when the tabletop player and the mobile-app player and the comics reader are all fans of the same setting, ya know?
But I do think that getting folks together in one big basket instead of a bunch of little interest-specific baskets is the smart move, and the best way to grow not just the industry, but the hobby as a result.