#me_irl during Game Chef week.

My thanks and apologies to all my friends who put up with my endlessly bugging them. But it’s done! And it’s really good.

EDIT, DUH: this will be publicly listed someday so what the heck.


I listened in on a teenaged RPG group gathered in the teen room at our library yesterday and it was so charming. I mean the game sounded pretty terrible, and I’m not even really sure what they were playing (it wasn’t D&D), but I was filled with so much nostalgia. Much more than I got watching Stranger Things, and of a different quality than when I’ve ever read through an OSR text.

I think my favorite part was the totally guileless all-in investment of everyone at the table. No dramatic irony, no arms-length authorial positioning. They were there to disappear into their roles for a while, and the GM was there to make it happen.

I got jealous that they still get to discover this crazy thing of ours. Some, probably half, will just drop out when they discover money or sex. At least one of them will never want to do anything other than what they’re doing right then and there, and who can blame them? At least one won’t stop digging, and that kid will have to grapple with a lifetime of dissatisfaction balanced against constant discovery. It’ll probably be the GM. #me_irl.

Mute Mute Mute

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.