An #RPGaDay Postscript~

Just ‘an,’ as there will be a bit more to say later.

This year RPGaDay was a little different. The month was the same, the intention to be positive and share posts about the good qualities of our RPG hobby was the same. Will Brooks’ cool infographic was the same, this time rounding out its first trilogy of color with green thanks to artist Sébastien ‘Nolinquisitor‘ Allard’s perceptive suggestion. A lot was the same, and yet…it was not.

Of course, the host was different. The cheer and approachable nature of the event’s creator, Dave Chapman, was replaced by a host of an altogether different sort: me. Not only did that indirectly change the tone of the event, it had direct effects as well.

The first and most obvious of these is the means of propagation of responses expanded to include more YouTubers. This was partly due to the change in host and partly due to the questions. The type and tone of questions changed with the shift in hosts and longer answers suited for a full blog or vlog post became more possible. While shorter-form answers such as those possible on Twitter were still easy, going deeper into the topic was more likely. The focus of the questions also moved more toward the area of actual play than previous years by looking directly at memories of play, advice, group composition, and social dynamics.

Another effect was that a group (the Brigade), however loosely-affiliated, took on the challenge of completing responses for all 31 days, encouraging each other to keep at it, all while a campaign to encourage the sharing of others’ responses was enacted.

Also, as a part of that, the RPG Brigade took the opportunity to launch their communal YouTube Channel and Facebook page through participation in the event. Hopefully the curators of those pages will continue to seek out RPGaDay content and collect them into playlists for easy discovery and support for all the new or small channels who devoted time to participating.

As a thankful aside, one such Brigade curator, known as Richard Wentworth on Facebook, was invaluable in collating and sorting all previous questions by type, time, and frequency of appearance in order to make the analysis of past questions easier. That in turn sped up and informed the creation of the new set of questions which by intention brought back older questions in new forms and asked new ones to take responses in new directions.

The next difference, again tied to the questions, was the translation by volunteers into French by Nolinquisitor, German by Johannes Einloft and Italian by Niilo Lehner. Their donation of time and talent opened the event to a much wider and more global community than it had yet reached, and I look forward to seeing what sprouts from the seeds they planted this year.

The French community was the most active non-English set of respondents on my radar, partly due to the recent efforts to build a French Brigade, but a variety of foreign-to-me languages could be seen in recommended video lists on YouTube, across Twitter, and on RPG blogs around the Internet. It was great to see it spread, and spread further. I still need to get the time to track them to see where and how far the event went.

Even more amazing were those who managed to post in multiple languages, either alternating, or doing more than one post per day, such as Francois Letarte who posted 62 videos (English and French) during the month, each one interesting. He wasn’t the only one to do this (which is even more amazing). Another fellow, Etienne Harvey, followed through on the same dual commitment as well… and there may have been more. Let me know if you find any. That sort of effort is above and beyond the call and deserves recognition.

The questions, and the event itself, have never been without detractors – despite the aims of RPGaDay – and this year was no different in that regard, but the type of commentary was. It has consistently been an effort for some to post with a positive outlook, or without positing the existence some sort of ulterior motive. This year there was an undercurrent of criticism targeting the amount of questions on actual play experiences. This was somewhat expected based on proofreader feedback, and question adjustments were made before launch. In the end, however, the theme of actual play was set, the questions were completed, and it was time to go with it.

It was an interesting thing to witness how many GMs rarely or never get to play as ‘just players’ now, how many have never really gotten to run characters, and how many consider running the game to be so fundamentally different from ‘playing’ it. That made some of the actual play focused questions extremely hard for some to answer directly. It was good to see people rally and remember the idea that this is a positive event and the questions are just prompts to get people sharing. The responses which arose from shifting the question around to suit the respondent were often great.

Another factor which influences the reaction to the questions is the perspective on gaming a person has based on their experience and preferences working in concert with that person’s perception of where RPGaDay is coming from. The questions were cited as being both too old school and too new school, too trad and too indie…

I take such reactions as a good thing and feel it shows that we got the balance close to what we were going for: being as inclusive as possible and that most gamers out there, either fresh to the hobby or old and jaded, of whatever play style, should be able to find at least a few questions to answer in every week, and certainly over the course of the month.

Like everyone else, with a sequence of 31 questions to answer, in the past two years of RPGaDay, there have been questions I simply had no answer for. To help remedy that a few things were attempted this year. The first was to go beyond the infographic by having the questions hosted in a longer and more detailed format. We could not guarantee that people would notice or remember that this had been done, but we did out best. The goal for this was to help people get a clearer sense of where the question was coming from and how it might be used as a prompt for a response, and to help non-native speakers of English understand the short version wordings of the questions on the infographic. The second thing we tried was to add a few alternate questions each week to give busy people a hand thinking of something else to write about if there was nothing about the day’s ‘official’ question that they had an answer for. A lot of these questions saw use, including by me, and so I was pleased to have been able to help respondents out in that way this year.

Another factor that was different this year was a weekly recap of different things that were occurring in responses. I had hoped to get more people involved in doing recaps, but that did not pan out properly this year. Each full week got its own recap, and now that the event is over, Dave Chapman and I will coordinate on a retrospective video to cap it off.

We tried to collect a video wall on but the response was too fast and furious to keep up with. Plans are afoot now to try this in a different way, and in stages. The tireless efforts of Andre Martinez make that all possible.

A surprise assist this year came in the form of the creation of Glenn Wesler appeared out of nowhere with a post aggregation feed and that made following other people’s responses much easier, especially if you used the site-specific search functions.

One final thing that we tried this year, thanks to the advice of Rob ‘The Swamper‘ Davis, was an alternate scheme for the infographic to help make it easier to read for viewers with vision challenges. It was hoped that the high-contrast version  would be helpful in this regard.


High-contrast Version

Many differences this year!

Ultimately, each year of this fun event has had its own feel and has sparked responses in one medium more than in the others. The first year took Facebook and Twitter by storm with hints of G+. The second spread more to blogs and G+ with a few YouTubers. This year saw an explosion of Twitter and YouTube responses, but Facebook posts were harder to track and seem to have been put more often into private groups on gaming. I hope the differences of this year were not too big a jump for people to handle and that more fun was had that not.

Like many, I trust that good things will happen when Dave takes the reigns back for an all new RPGaDay in 2017. Involved or not involved, I can say that I will enthusiastically participate because the sense of community and enjoyment that this event fosters is one of the primary reasons I interact online about gaming at all. The simple rules of RPGaDay say it all really, ‘post a response…to celebrate everything cool, memorable, and amazing about our hobby.’

We roleplaying gamers are imaginative and collaborative people, generally. We can do that and do it well, I think.

See you next year! (and at least once more this year)

#RPGaDay 2016


One Response to “An #RPGaDay Postscript~”
  1. jdrd30 says:

    Again, Thanks for all this!

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