A Penny for Your Thoughts
On 2006-08-27, Matt S wrote:
So anyone thinking "my game failed because I'm not close to Vincent", stop thinking that. It's mean and inaccurate.
This is indeed inaccurate. Clearly, one does not need Vincent's commendation to succeed. Nor Ron's, etc. There are other ways to succeed, probably thousands of them.
But that's not really the question. It's the inverse of the real question, which is actually this:
Does being close to Vincent (Or Ron's, Robin's, etc.) help your game succeed?
I believe it does. I certainly have benefitted from Ron Edwards commendations on both my published games. I can point directly to sales made after he posted actual play, for example.
If I could get anyone to say good things about Nine Worlds, for example, Vincent and Clinton would be in the top 5 of my list. Why? Because they 1) have influence among a much larger audience than they probably care to admit and 2) becaue they have demonstrated, repeatedly, that they understand games, and can peg a good game at 100 yards. They save people time and stress by saying "this game's good" rather than forcing the people to dig around for a while to find out whether or not it's good. They trust Vincent; he saves them time and helps make a reliable buying decision.
I really don't see anything wrong with this, nothing mean or petty or whatever. I know Vincent and Clinton reasonably well. I belive them to be the kind of guys for whom this opinion of mine about their propped up status is ... unsettling. They'd rather be just one of the guys. They are not, whether they like it or not.
Still, it's not as though anyone owes anyone else a damn thing. And, it's not as though someone in the position to benefit from Vincent's praise can do a damn thing about it "Shh! Vincent shuddap already!" No.
Here's what I believe to be the real answer: Let's look at that crew in Massachusetts. Vincent and Co. seem to me to realize too little how extremely beneficial their circumstances are (or rather, how wonderful their life choices to date have led to a wonderful circle of friends and family). They are a circle of friends who eagerly discuss games, devote time to games, are on the same page regarding games, and have what appears to be an ideal community for creating games (in part because they also have an outlet to other groups who can help test).
I sit on another side of that spectrum. I have no similar circle of friends in my geographic community. My (gaming) friends are rather obviously not interested in talking about them, not on the same page I am on in terms of games, and do not regularly, willingly devote time to their games. They aren't interested in playtesting, and they exhibit no interest in indie RPGs despite having a best pal who writes them.
Obviously, the solution for me is finding another network of support, which I have tried. And tried. And tried again. Not all communities are created equal, you know!?!Success is scant to date. I keep trying, sometimes more often than others. I have not given up, and keep trying to find new ways to succeed.
Here's the real difference. Every minute I spend trying to find a community to actually create a game is a minute that some folks in western Massachusetts (or elsewhere, etc.) spend actually creating one or more games. Every minute I spend trying to find an outlet -- usually online -- for playtesting is a minute they actually spend playtesting. Every minute I spend trying to get people -- usually online pals -- to help me market is a minute they spend actually getting pals to market their games (this isn't coercion, obviously).
In short, making games without an immediate, face-to-face network of active support is very difficult. In fact, it's a ridiculous pain in the ass. It's lonely (I'm not exaggerating) and frustrating. I believe it requires significantly more work, effort and stress than those who create games with such support (which is already, by those creators' admissions, very, very hard to do). Not much evidence for that beyond me thinking I'd kill to have such a group around me!
I have voiced this before. Constantly, I hear "Just find another group! It works!" I shrug, say, "You're right" and then stew because they don't live in my town, don't work at my job, don't take care of my kids, don't spend time with my friends and family, do other people's game layouts, and so on. Which to give up? How much harder to work to find this support? Things are not as easy as they seem, are they?
This is a matter of circumstances. It is not, as Vincent has said, chance; it is the consequence of choices made years in the past through today. One is responsible for the position in which one finds himself. I certainly am. And, neither do I have any regrets. You should see my new paycheck for example! YES!
I am extremely uneasy raising criticisms of the Forge booth, for example, for exactly this reason. I'm all about owning up to personal responsibility.
However, I am also frustrated to recognize small communities of people who help one another succeed in publishing, but do relatively little to help other likeminded small communities of people trying to do the same, all while selling in the same physical space (as well as virtual space, too). This is happening among all groupings of pals, not just the Mass. Crew ignoring everyone. It's everyone ignoring everyone, largely because there's too little time to work it out.
I find Ben's comments about social context extremely interesting. I am uncertain what he means, and I indend to ask him. I propose putting Nine Worlds on his metaphorical chopping block because 1) I know it's a well-designed game 2) it's not getting played 3) Ron's praise helped it achieve success 4) Ben sings its praises and loves the game but 5) he may have valid criticisms about its slight failure to connect with people that I do not yet understand or recognize.
Phew! Ok, I'm going to spend time with my gaming buddies now for the first time in two months. Seems I'm upping my irony intake today. Life's strange. I love it that way, honestly.
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