Wednesday, September 6, 2017

RPG A Day In Review

I was planning on writing a retrospective of RPG a Day as soon as it was over, with some thoughts fresh in my mind. I ended up not following that course of action, because I was so burned out from answering questions, I didn’t want to think about it for a while.

 
That said, it’s not because it is a bad event. It’s just really hard to stick to something, every day, for a whole month. That’s a lot of work.

Part of why I wanted to stick with it is that I’ve been trying to be more consistent with what I do, relating to my RPG hobby these days. I want to finish campaigns. I want to evaluate books that I purchased cover to cover. I want to follow through on what I start. Sometimes it may not be possible, but when it is, I want to ride it out.

As A Concept

I love RPG a Day as a concept. I enjoy sharing anecdotes and perspectives on the hobby, and in turn, seeing other stories and perspectives. I love anything that gets people to communicate more, and find more common ground.

Because of that, I liked the questions that allowed for more of an exploration of experiences. Sharing character moments and types of campaigns are great for this. Finding moments in the hobby that worked well and that didn’t work well. In those moments, we learn who our fellow gamers are, and sometimes we learn things about ourselves.

Execution

Some questions just fell flat. This happens every year. I don’t blame anyone for this. Coming up with a question a day for an entire month would be a terrible challenge. That said, I think the best questions were the ones that were open enough for a detailed answer, but focused enough to point the person in limited direction to draw from.

Asking a question that is too easily answered in a single word or phrase isn’t really starting a discussion. Asking too broad of a question, especially in the middle or at the end of a month of questions, is just going to shut someone down from too many options.

I also think that any “absolute” questions automatically start off on the wrong foot. Asking the “best” or “worst” is almost always going to be subjective, and it also invites the person answering the question to make a declarative statement, instead of asking them to start a discussion. If you ask someone their worst experience with something, they automatically know that the answer is from their perspective. If you ask them THE worst experience with something, and they answer in the spirit the question is asked, its very easy for people to view engaging with that answer as adversarial.

Reception

I have noticed it in the past, and it happened again this year, but some people seem to have a very strong reaction against this event. I guess I understand if all you see are responses to this event all day long. But if you follow someone, and you see value in following them the rest of the year, even if this event isn’t your thing, maybe its worth noting that they are getting something out of the participation.

I completely understand not wanting to participate. I understand not enjoying the event and not caring to see the responses. I’m not as keen on people actively railing against it, or even actively railing against people participating in it.

Next Year?

I’m not sure if I’m going to participate next year. It takes a lot of effort, and if I start, I feel obligated to finish. I definitely get something out of participating, and there are a lot of people that provided answers that I was not expecting, or that found depth or nuance to questions where I didn’t see it. I can appreciate that.

My wishlist for next year would be:

  • Fewer questions that utilize absolutes like “best” or “worst”
  • Fewer questions that assume a play style for the answer (i.e. that people have played long for campaigns or two hour sessions)
  • A little less cross-over between the types of answers a question might generate (day 7 and 13, for example, could have a lot of redundancy between them)

But for all of my wish list above, I don’t want to be overly critical. It can’t be easy coming up with these questions, and I think the result is a net positive for the community of RPG players.

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