Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Enthusiasm for Controversy

It has been interesting to note the ups and downs with my blog traffic as of late. I must admit the downward fluctuations started when I was most open about my own doubts of where gaming is going and my semi-ideological-abandonment of the OSR crowd. The entries that get the most hits on my blog are without a doubt those that wallow in controversy and spew rhetoric against the new school. Everyone lauds my praise of anything old school, and my philosophical navel gazing about the which and why fors of what was once long ago.

Put quite simply, people love controversy and they adore self praise. They look for avenues that confirm their own opinions and avoid things they don't agree with. In talking recently with someone I have really come to respect they described such behavior as a cult of mediocrity. We are all striving to be the same, and to be around people that are the same as we are. I suppose I fall into that category a lot of the time. But now, having been judged in the court of popular opinion via blog hit counts it has a different feel to it. Blogging has been called the most self absorbed and ego driven endeavor on the web. I don;t know about all that. I started this blog first as a service to me kids at school for the school club. Unfortunately the powers that be don't like kids and teachers mixing on any sort of restricted basis online. So I changed the approach to be aimed in general towards anyone who would like to read my thoughts. Maybe find them interesting. I'm not really a social media hound. I'm more of a thinker. I think way too much. And this project has been more of a journey of self discovery than anything else. In that way I suppose it has been sort of self absorbed. Anyone who has read it for any length of time has noticed I have bounced all over the place in regards to what I think about gaming, old school, the new wave, 4e, 5e, the first wave, OSR and on and on. My opinions are definitely not set in stone.

During this self reflective phase my blog counts continued to rise and my followers piled up one by one. I'll admit it was gratifying. I assumed that people found what I had to say useful or at least interesting.  And I suppose that may have had to do with the fact that others felt like I did. Lost amidst the new gaming elite and feeling confused by it all. Perhaps they benefited from my self reflection, my own internal gaming struggles.

Now, good blogging PR would dictate that I analyze what drew hits and stick with those themes. That I cater to what my followers want. That I continue to get my ego stroked by the stroking of others. Well, sorry ... aint gonna happen.

When I started this blog I had no interest in making money. No interest in blogging full time--I got too many other important things to do than blog all the time. I told myself I wasn't going to mess with advertising on my blog, nor was I going to cater to writing just what people wanted to hear. For instance one entry I had on Star Frontiers got tons of hits. Evidently there are lots of people out there looking for Star Frontiers stuff. But I barely played the game. I know very little about it, and though it still intrigues me I just don;t have much more to say about it. I could blog tons on SF and maybe get lots more hits. But that just isn't my bag. I'm not here for that. Although if there are some SF fans out there that like blogging or web building, there's evidently an audience for it.

More than ever I understand where I'm at in my own creativity and my own gaming. And that requires that I follow my own path. There are things I love about many different games. There are also strong opinions I have about the nature of gaming and it's potential. I like to play in a certain way and with certain elements at the fore. They are not the only way to game, nor am I intimating that they are the right way to game. They are the way I like to play. Jolly Blackburn and Dave Kenzer helped me to realize that we can make decisions like that. Rob Kuntz helped me realize that only I could tell myself the direction to take and discover what I had to give to the gaming world. ADD Grognard has been very supportive in my quest as well, and has opened my eyes to the fact that it is okay to feel what I feel, think what I think and more than anything else to not give up. It is indeed quite a ride. And I would be remiss if I did not give thanks as well to the Troll Lords for just being there and doing what they do, and being so darn great about it as well. They have been a shelter from the storm.

If someone were to ask me where the blog is going from here I can only say that it will go where it goes. But there are several areas right now that I am interested in.
  • Supporting new gamers: I am still a teacher and a club adviser. Though the school club is on hiatus right now, I am planning on starting up a less intensive schedule before October ends. I will be discussing tips and ideas to help new gamers, young gamers and those looking for a safe haven from the complexities of the gaming world. If you were to point someone who was just starting gaming or looking into it I would hope you could point them to my blog and they would find it useful.
  • Looking for the essence of the old: the first wave of gaming was very different from what I ever believed it was. I am very interested right now in looking to foster a similar approach to gaming and games today. I will do this by looking back, looking at what is now and looking to the future. If I spend time looking at old games or old supps then it will be in the light of what they can teach us about this essence and what we can learn from them now.
  • Castles & Crusades: This is my gaming home for now. For reasons I've delineated before I am playing strictly C&C right now in all of my games. Which will be at least 2 separate campaigns. You can expect lots of C&C goodness on my site.
  • Hackmaster Mentality: I am a huge KODT fan, and love Hackmaster 4e for the ethos it encouraged. There will be lots of HM related commentary and feel and tone here simply because these guys are close to my heart. Even though I'm not currently running a HM game I'm certainly not ruling it out. But even where actual HM gaming may be rare, there will always be a rather HM feel to my ramblings here and my goals in general.
  • A Tribute to AD&D: I began as an AD&D gamer. I will always be in my soul an AD&D gamer. I can;t deny it's influence on me in more than merely formative ways. Though I may move on and play other games now, you can always expect AD&D to hold a fond place in my heart and privileged place on this blog. You can expect from time to time to hear me wax nostalgic even quite sickeningly so about this greatest game of all games. With all it's warts and blemishes it is still, for me, perfection incarnate because it is how I came to gaming.
And other stuff from time to time as well. But don't really expect me to follow the crowd too much. I am what I am and will follow my own path. If you like, great. If you don't that's cool too.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

They look for avenues that confirm their own opinions and avoid things they don't agree with. In talking recently with someone I have really come to respect they described such behavior as a cult of mediocrity. We are all striving to be the same, and to be around people that are the same as we are.

Your friend is mistaken. People hunger for identity. They seek a community of like minded souls (such as RPG bloggers) as a way of separating themselves from the mass of humanity. They then address controversy to define themselves within that community.

Of course you should blog for yourself, never others... that was what brought us here in the first place.

But don't make the mistake of taking your "customers" for fools who don't know what they desire.

I assure you, we know nothing better.
~V~

Chris said...

Thanks V. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. I like the fact that you don't agree with me. May be the subject of a good post someday.

I guess the natural question is where does the search for community become the weak habit of surrounding ourselves with people who think just like we do? I've run into a lot of this lately. In politics, in religion, in the work world and I'm beginning to see it in my hobby too.

True innovation, true creativity, which are both born in the fires of originality are much more often fostered in individualism than in community.

I must admit I'm a bit confused by all this myself. I struggle against the desire to wrap myself in the safety and comfort of a community and entering the lonely crucible of breaking free and doing my own thing.

--peace

DRANCE said...

Hey man, I for one am a regular reader, if not a regular comment-writer. I appreciate your stance on blogging, and I feel that you and I are in this blogging game for very similar reasons. Gamers like you are the reason I wanted to start blogging: those who just love the game, and are not here to show off. You wanted to join in the community in order to share your experiences, and perhaps learn something new about the hobby through interaction with other gamers. This whole "go big or go home" gonzo approach to blogging doesn't grok for me. I don't understand why people don't seem to appreciate that someone can be a "casual" blogger. Too many bloggers seem to be hardcore, and see not posting every day as a weakness. Uh, hello, we have lives beyond this sphere! Anyway, I hope you keep on truckin' my friend. I appreciate your efforts here, and don't be deterred by the naysayers, the haters, or lack of traffic. There are those out there who appreciate what you're doing.

DRANCE said...

P.S. Ditto to supporting new gamers! I have been thinking more and more of running games for younger gamers in a local library. The old school needs new blood!

Castles & Crusades: YEAH BABY! Can't wait to hear about your C&C adventures! Hope you are able to stop by my blog for my own C&C stories!

A Tribute to AD&D: Dude, like you, I also started out with AD&D. I didn't start with the Reb Box, or Holmes, or B/X, or the little brown books. I started with those old hardbacks, the holy trinity of PHB, DMG, and MM! They live on in C&C, my friend! Just looking at those books fills me with so many fond memories and good feelings. Days of high adventure that filled entire weekends of gaming goodness, back when I had time to do so! Heck, I may bust on 2E sometimes, but even that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. But 1E is really where it all began for me!

Chris said...

Thanks Drance. I appreciate your thoughts. Wish I was as confident as I somtimes come across :)

James said...

"I guess the natural question is where does the search for community become the weak habit of surrounding ourselves with people who think just like we do?"

I've never met anyone who thinks just like I do. Not one. Single. Person. No. Where. Close.

I do like sharing my life with other people. I like people.

People tend to hook up with others who share some of their ideas. Some of their passions.

I can't do what I'm doing with my blog, by networking with a bunch of Pathfinder players.

I'd suggest watching where you're taking yourself with that "weak habit" ideation.

"True innovation, true creativity, which are both born in the fires of originality are much more often fostered in individualism than in community."

I read your posts and see Rob Kuntz' ideas coming from a different set of fingers.

People completely, intensely, involved with their fellows have and can be every bit as original and creative as a "lone wolf" or whatever. A good thing, since I do much of my DMing on the fly.

Just like a DM can exercise every bit as much creativity building a campaign with, say the World of Greyhawk, as he can making one from scratch (there are people who excel at just that sort of thing, creatively speaking.)

Erik Mona used the word "brilliant" when describing Joe Bloch's Greyhawk campaign.

Chris said...

I read your posts and see Rob Kuntz' ideas coming from a different set of fingers.

Ouch.

There may be more truth to that than I care to admit.

Might I have been trying to do my own thing in exactly the way someone else told me to?

Hell. No wonder I'm confused.