A sore spot.
I think 90% of all writing about RPGs is terrible. Terrible for me, at least. It’s probably all fandoms everywhere, but gamers seem exceptionally unsuited to knowing how to talk about what they love. It’s either the greatest thing ever and will change the world or it’s the worst thing ever and anyone who says otherwise is stupid.
I don’t read reviews of roleplaying games. I don’t seek them out. If I stumble into one I click away immediately. RPG reviews are toxic and terrible. Oh, one exception but it’s a weird one: the Shut Up & Sit Down folks have a very similar aesthetic and set of values to how I think about games, and I’ve watched them dip their toe in the water now and again. They’re wide-eyed ingenues which is entirely to their credit. No enmeshed tribal identity to defend or slough off.
It’s the tribalism of course that makes 90% of all ttrpg writing terrible. I’ve said it before: It should come as no surprise that identity is such a recurring theme when talking about playing games about identity.
Actual play reports are my jam. Anyone who reads the Indie Game Reading Club (hello new collection followers! I know I’ve been mentioned a few times with today’s question) has seen my own approach. It is probably overwrought and definitely not a form factor that makes sense anywhere other than a social media platform. I have no idea how to monetize it. It’s a self-funded effort and it’s journaling therapy for me, so mostly it’s all good.
But actual play demands a few things if it’s to be done well. My unsolicited advice for anyone who wants to get in on the mad AP writeup cash:
* Play a lot of different stuff and break down whatever identity you have with a particular game or style or school or whatfuckingother divisions du jour there may be.
* Learn what rules do. Ignore what you want them to do.
* Develop a personal philosophy of what games are for. No seriously. What are they for? Your answer won’t be my answer. Do this so you can identify your own biases. Don’t try to ignore them, because you can’t. Just be aware of them.
* Nobody cares about the blow-by-blow of your session. Really. Nobody does. Try writing down a blow-by-blow description of your favorite song sometime. Write from 10,000 feet up: how did it feel? Where did the players engage or not? What surprised or delighted or disgusted you? Use vignettes to illustrate those points but juuust enough fiction to set up and deliver the point.
Anyway. Reviews suck.