Our Ancestors Were Wise

“Our ancestors were wise, yet our age accounts them foolish” – George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence

I got turned on to the Walking Eye podcast after following a link from yet another OMG-Ron-Edwards-Forge-Swine thread on theRPGSite. According to some, the Storygamers are “trying to claim the OSR movement” (uh-huh).

The Edwards/OSR crossover happens in a 2-part discussion (here and then here). Lots of interesting stuff about the origins of D&D, the OSR, RPG history lessons, bitching about metaplot, and so on.

In Part 2 at around 53 mins, Edwards mentions Google+:

“…but if there’s one thing that I’m really frustrated about, with the new way of doing things which is more blog-centric and social media-centric, is I’m seeing more of a fragmentation and less of a consolidation… I don’t mean a consolidation of thought, I mean consolidation of achievements, um, such that achievements can be actually identified and found because they historically did occur.

“All these people I know are all bonkers about Google+ and the thing about Google+ is that… I can’t go to it. I can’t just go. And that, for someone who cut his teeth in the pre-forum days of the internet… it’s almost maddening to have to log in and register into a ton of different things before I’m even allowed to look.”

As one of the other contributors (Victor Raymond?) says, “the internet is creating more and more places for people not to be able to find one another”.

Google+ irritates me mainly because I can’t work out how to turn my email notifications off, because (unlike twitter) the main screen includes content that isn’t from people I have chosen to follow, and because I have to log in. On the other hand I don’t know if Edwards’ complaint is upheld–if you want to make your ideas public rather than broadcast to a small circle of friends, put it on a blog for all to see. The people who choose to share their game ideas in small circles are probably doing it deliberately.

The other interesting bit (part 2, about 6 minutes in) is the reference to Dave Wesley’s Braunstein game. A better transcript of the events can be found here (link found via Grognardia).

“The [war]game lasted two turns, it went on for hours and hours… he was initially completely convinced that it had been a total failure because everyone had spent their time intriguing and doing things and marching troops and counter-marching troops…”

I’d not heard that story before, and I was surprised that it was exactly like some of the freeform games we played at Uni. Those games started out being rigidly “procedural” (in Edwards-speak) with a combination of tabletop wargaming and play-by-mail, and degenerated into a highly thespian intrigue-based free-for-all where the bulk of GM time was spent adjudicating events which fell outside the rules. Plus ca change.

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p>Last thing–the description of the 80s RPG shopping experience was spot on. Our game shop was a weird craft and hobby shop with the D&D manuals tucked in the corner like a dirty secret. Ah, good times.

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  • G+ has improved in respect of the issue Edwards mentions, because it has recently created google communities, which are basically circles you can subscribe to (as opposed to needing to create them yourself by inviting people).

    I don’t know whether I agree with his fundamental point though. I mean sure, it’s easier to find roleplayers by searching for forums than by going onto G+ (marginally, given said communities); but it’s a hell of a lot easier to find an individual roleplayer on G+. And functionality like hangouts and communities means you can advertise a game, recruit people to play it and then run it all on the same front-end interface dealie.

    At least one forum that I know of has just created a community on G+. It will be interesting to see whether they conclude one of the forum or the community is redundant, or continue using them in parallel.

    • With respect, I think you are objectively wrong and Edwards is objectively right. I find it difficult to use Google+ right now, and although that’s due to me not being prepared to put in that effort, there’s not much pressure for me to do so. As far as finding people I have enough trouble finding my friends, let alone strangers.

      Google+ has several issues. For one if you write something and publish it, you cannot change the circle it is published to (as you could f-lock LJ posts after the fact) meaning you can’t restrict or widen audiences.

      As for publishing information, if I want to make a post public it will have better legibility and branding (i.e. identifying me as the author) if I post it here. If I want to moot an idea with friends I will use email. If I want to find a community of gamers, I will go to forums where they’re likely to congregate. Google+ is an inferior solution in all cases. I know that for a lot of people it’s the dog’s balls but it’s becoming the One True Way and it’s deeply flawed.

    • Addendum for clarification: I’m saying Edwards is right that it’s harder to find stuff. I’m not saying he’s entirely right to complain that it’s harder if the authors don’t want to be found.

    • Oh, and

      “G+… has recently created google communities, which are basically circles you can subscribe to”

      What, like LJ communities?

    • Yeah, just like LJ communities (I’m not saying this is innovative, obv – but it provides that functionality if you want it).

      I’m surprised to hear you find it difficult, because it’s basically just facebook with some added functionality (i.e. circles). Interesting. My experience has been: search for person. Person comes up. Add them to your circles. Done.

      For me, the reason G+ is something I need is because there are so many US people on it – I basically use it as one of many tools to reach out to the roleplaying community, and it’s damn fine from that point of view. This did lead to me inititally thinking G+ was useless, mainly because nobody I kew used it (it’s way less popular in the UK IME).

      Anyways, I’m not sure it’s ever likely to become the one true way. LJ had that crown for a while, now look at it. For some reason the internet doesn’t seem to be able to sit still in that regard.

    • “It’s basically just Facebook”. Which you have to log on to, you can’t just go. I’m not on Facebook.

      If it’s the only way you have to reach out to other gamers then you have to use it. But saying it’s “damn fine” begs the question, what is the alternative? For me, in every way I interact with the web today (with the exception of your game) I already have a better tool than Google+. And I’m sure Google+ wouldn’t be difficult, if I could be bothered.

      The second half of the interview talks about exactly this problem – one of the Walking Eye team had to walk another through finding the circles, because without that help those circles weren’t immediately visible.

      Unless I’m mistaken, of course. I mean, can you send me a URL to a really good discussion that happened on Google+, that I can read without being logged into Google or Google+? You know, like I can on theRPGsite or RPG.net or The Forge or The AW Hacks forum.