Seeing “oh yeah I saw this game in playtest X years ago…” type comments is always a healthy reminder of just where in the small-press gaming food chain I actually am.

I don’t know that I’d necessarily want to change that! I mean, first off, there’s the social and actual capital required to make that happen: the connections that are only possible from either being proximate to the creators (via address or convention attendance) or being a creator. Which, you know, maybe at some point.

There’s this weird thing about social capital, though, right? Like, the source of my meager supply is mostly in being a late adopter with a good memory. Oh hey, remember Psi Run? 2006? Paul is finally talking about it now. Hey, I nearly forgot about Our Last Best Hope, it’s already been 2 years. Two years! That’s several lifetimes in designer years. 

Kickstarter of course has juiced the cycle, and God bless them because that’s awesome. All the little microcommunities that have cropped up too; I too was one of those obnoxious insiders when I was playtesting Mouse Guard and Torchbearer and, hey, what a surprise: I was going to BurningCon and getting way more exposure to the creators. 

I mean, jeez, make no mistake: I’m not actually angry or hostile or anything about any of this! Just kind of amused, largely at myself, at the cycle of things. I was basement-deep with FASA and Pinnacle once upon a time as well. And man it was a lot harder back then to actually break in. I roll(ed) my eyes a lot at the gatekeeper talk after those awards this year. I mean really, a lot. 

Probably the biggest gatekeeper in my life right now is me, if I’m being honest with myself. I mean heck, I’ve got an ashcan of Cartel here and damned if I can get it to the table with anyone. That’s not especially insider-y; anyone can buy it. And of course I’ve already seen the “when I played this several years ago” comments, those healthy reminders of one’s place in the food chain. But it’s a fact: my life and the lives of those in my circles just don’t allow the sheer volume of play time needed to be able to spend evenings on risky ventures. Like pretending we’re elves in some novel way that maybe isn’t that fun yet.

All this dumb introspection ties back to my long-range thoughts about what I’d do with a Patreon. My ego says I’d like to use it to raise funds for artwork for my own design projects; my super-ego says my niche is to be the guy who helps sell everyone else’s long-tail backstock. Nothing but me says I can’t be both.

My internal gatekeeper says it’s more valued to be someone with insights into the next two years than it is to have Opinions about the last five. Weird, right? I’m sure the vast majority of folks who read the Indie Game Reading Club are more practically interested in what’s already out than what’s coming out.

I probably should have deleted this.

0 thoughts on “Introspection”

  1. Yeah. I could keep up when the indie circle was small — when there were like five releases a year and I could play them all at GPNW. But in the last few years I’ve totally fallen behind on it all.

    Even with the state of design. So every now and then I post something like “hey, I have this idea,” and then I get “that’s already in xyz from three years ago, don’t you know?”

  2. Christian Griffen you know that’s actually reassuring to me to read. 

    Mad respect to the folks who have the time and bandwidth to put themselves way out on the bleeding edge of this thing of ours. It’s my own cynicism, I think, that makes me read them uncharitably.

  3. Hey, if this was triggered by my comment about WotA, I was just making sure that the context for my comment was “I have not played the game in it’s current version,” you know?

    From my perspective, being “in the know” is 100% dependent on your relationships with the people making things. There’s stuff going on on the west coast, in particular, that I’m totally ignorant of because I don’t really have strong relationships with those folks, but I’ve read or playtested stuff from midwest folks that will trickle out over the next couple years cuz those are my people.

  4. Nathan Paoletta Your comment reminded me of the topic, yeah; I’ve been thinking on it a while. It wasn’t a trigger!

    And you’re absolutely right about proximity. I am reminded regularly of what a complete fucking wasteland Arizona is in terms of small press roleplaying. There’s no play community here and precious little design in the past decade; the days of Fastlane and The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries is a thousand years past. Look upon my works ye mighty and despair.

    I’m really jazzed about making it to ABQ in a few weeks because I want to see what a convention and vibrant design scene actually look like (that isn’t NYC, because of course NYC is all that and more).

    Who knows? I’m pulling together notes and ideas for PaulCon (Spring 2016! Save your pennies!) and maybe, just maybe, there are still a few vital spores left in the dust here, waiting to be watered.

  5. Jason Fritz Oh, not worried at all. Just accepting it as a fact of life.

    More often than not, when I’m talking about games these days, I feel like someone’s dad mumbling around a mouthful of artisinal duck-fat rosemary french fries, “Hey, these are actually pretty good!” And the real foodies at the table chuckling about how artisinal goose-fat Himalayan salted sweet potato fries are where it’s at now, gawd, you can get that duck-fat shit from TGIFriday’s for fuck’s sake.

  6. I can’t keep up either. In fact, I got a little overwhelmed by all the stuff. 

    I might be on the other side of things than you.
    What bums me out a little, is that I get really stoked by a game and pledge to kickstarter or bug the designers to playtest, and then when the game comes out (which really isn’t all that much later), I’ve lost enthusiasm for it, I think, because I know how the mechanics work, and that’s what interests me more than the experience. I’m trying to figure out what experience at the table interests me and that leads to me seeking out the bleeding edge which starts the whole cycle again. This should probably be it’s own post.

    I spent all day today reading Rafael Chandler’s Pandemonio. That’s old right?

  7. Huh! I can see that, too. 

    You’d think these games that post samples of the rules before you back them would help fix that. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually read rules before backing games.

  8. “My internal gatekeeper says it’s more valued to be someone with insights into the next two years than it is to have Opinions about the last five.”
    Jane McGonigal has said that to make their predictions about the future, the Institute for the Future looks ten times further back into history for however far into the future they’re trying to predict.

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