Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I've deleted and re-written this post about six times, now, and I think that I'm going to just stick with what I have, even if it's not my best work and could probably use about four more editorial passes. Because it should not take more than a month to write a single post.

So be forewarned; This post is less-focused than most. This post is rambly and ranty. This post is only peripherally about games.

This post was triggered by several things:
  1. The whole Hugo Puppies situation that will not go away and die.
  2. The announcement of the Origins Awards short list for this year.
  3. The announcement of the Spiel des Jahres nominees for the year.
I recently realized that awards have no value of their own. The only value an award on a box has is the value that the viewer assigns to it,and that value can change over time.

Because awards - in and of themselves - nearly always suffer from fundamental flaws.

Here is what I think people forget about with awards:

Good and Fun are not the same thing.

Seriously. It (realistically) looks something like this:

If you can't see it clearly, the vertical axis is "Good" at the top and "Not Good" at the bottom.  The horizontal axis is "Not Fun" at the left and "Fun" at the right.

Your ideal award winners are both Good and Fun:

It doesn't matter if you're talking about movies or books or games.  You know what's not on this axis?

Sales. Popularity.

So let's shift to movies. Have you seen The Fast and the Furious or any of its sequels?  Those movies are a ton of fun. But they're not going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Nor are they trying to do so.

This, by the way, is why the Hugo Controversy is such a big deal to me. I read a ton of Military SF. I read a ton of bad books that are fun to read. And, yes, I read a ton of really good books, too.

This is how I characterized the 2015 Hugo Situation on Facebook a few months back:
The difference is that the Rabid Puppies - unlike the Oscar voters - have mistakenly assumed that Fun = Good.  At least they did last year.  This year, they're just trolls. But at least they're honest about it this year. At least Chuck Tingle's counter-trolling has been worth watching.

And - for the record - I really really did not enjoy The Three-Body Problem. If I remember correctly, it was below "No Award" on my ballot (because I won't vote for books I don't enjoy).

I think that the Puppies' tactics with regard to the Hugos have damaged the value of the 2015 and 2016 award, but I don't think the awards themselves are now write-offs. Otherwise, I wouldn't still be involved with the process.

Eventually Vox Day will get bored. Or his followers will realize that they're spending $50 each every couple of years to no effect. And the rules are changing to reduce the impact of slate voting, so eventually that $50 will be a complete waste of money that won't even pay off the lols they are hoping for.

It looks like EPH won't be the magic bullet we had hoped for in that respect. But EPH + 4/6 (which also passed last year) together are better than the current system, and will keep slates - ANY slates - from being able to completely dominate all of the categories. But with the low number of nominations in some categories, slates will still be effective.

That is: without active involvement from fandom, it won't do any good. If people give up on the Hugos, they surrender to the slates. 

And it's worth noting that these are anti-slate measures, not anti-Puppy measures.  This year, it's the Rabid Puppies. Next year, it might be the Romance Writers of America who decide that they want a Hugo for one of their writers (the World Science Fiction Society constitution says that science fiction and fantasy works are eligible, but doesn't define either term so far as I can tell).

So for now, at least, the Hugos are (for me) a lesson in involvement. In order to keep the Hugos from sinking, I'm voting and keeping my friends as informed as I can. Some of my friends have registered to vote, too. And I'm harassing them - not "Vote this way!" but "Vote! Even if I disagree with your vote!"

I have more rant stored up, but if you made it this far, you've probably already wasted twenty or so minutes reading my ranting and rambling, so I'll save it for social media.

Next week? Games. We will discuss games. I'm not sure which ones, yet, because it depends on whether certain things have shipped and/or arrived, yet. So we'll see.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Last Week vs This Week

So last week, I posted about how I'm not okay with not going to gaming conventions this year. Within a day, I had three offers and referrals from friends for companies that need demo teams at GenCon or Origins or [Convention Name Here]. And a part-time job offer from a publisher.

Prior to that, I'd had offers to demo from two other publishers who'd learned I wasn't going to be in the Asmodee booth this year and they wanted to recruit me.

It's good to feel wanted, so thank you. All of you.

Realistically, the fact that I'm uncomfortable missing convention(s) this year, means I probably need to miss conventions this year. I need to decompress a bit.

Right now, if I took a Word Association Test of some sort and "Convention" was the word, my answer would be "Work." And that just isn't right.

It's fun work, yes, but it's still work.

I've never attended GenCon. I've demoed there for more than a decade, now, and I have never been to a single panel. I've never attended a meetup or played an RPG there. There is a whole world of fun that I've never seen.

So some time away will do me some good.

Ideally, Steph and I want to attend one or more gaming conventions in 2017. No demos, no setup, no work. Just go to the show, visit with folks, spend money, play games. You know: be with my people.

My posting here should be back to normal next week. I'm sorry I've been more self-focused than game-focused for the last couple of weeks, because I know that you come here to read about games and gaming.

And thank you for that, by the way.  Coming here and reading what I have to say. It means a lot to me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rough Week

I haven't gotten any work done on the posts that are in my queue this week.  I'm still kinda reeling from a bit of a one-two punch.

See, I realized this week that I'm not going to any gaming conventions anytime in the near future. And I'd thought I was okay with that, but I realized that I'm really not. Gamers are my people.

Yes, I've got a couple of really good groups going right now. The Wednesday Board Game Night continues to chug along, our 13th Age group is a blast, the Legend of the Five Rings group seems to be having fun. Even our Dungeons and Dragons (4e) group is chugging along.

There are several dozen gamers in those groups that I interact with on a regular basis. Gaming is my primary social outlet, and that ... long-term, I don't think it's enough.

So Steph and I chatted.  We're going to try to get to conventions in the future. On our own dime, because we love seeing the people and just drinking in the convention atmosphere. And being surrounded by our people.

We'll be at MidAmeriCon II (WorldCon) this summer. SF/F fandom is very much Steph's people.  Especially when there is a literary bent to the crowd.  SF/F Fandom are my people, too, but they're not as mine as gamers. So we're going to make an effort to attend more SF/F conventions, too.  And there are gamers at the cons, so I'll be able to get some of that social outlet time that I so rarely crave ...

The "two" punch this week was when Brian, who owns the FLGS that gets my money, announced that he is leaving the company. We all knew it was coming eventually, but I think we all hoped it'd be just a bit further out, time-wise. And I don't blame him for leaving - he's been apart from his wife for five years to keep the store going.

The store might be able to stay open. Maybe. But no-one knows for sure. So as of the end of July, I may need to find a new FLGS. Living where I do, there are some great ones around, but building a relationship with a store owner takes time. Even if Phoenix stays open, I still won't have the same relationship with the new owner(s) as I do with Brian.

So this week has been both strange and rough, and I'm already desperate for some gaming.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

TableTop Day

Last Saturday was Geek & Sundry's International TableTop Day!

Did you know that?  Based on the communities I'm a member of in a bunch of places, you probably didn't. I knew. My FLGS owner knew. The Wednesday games crowd knew (even if most of them just learned on Wednesday).

I don't know why word didn't spread as well this year. We only had about a dozen folks turn up. It was up from last year, but waaaay down from two years ago.

I arrived late, but I still had a great time.

We played Room 25 and Mascarade and Hyperborea (although we got a ton of rules wrong on that last one).  I really enjoy all three games.

Hyperborea was a bit of a stark reminder to me that I need to review rulebooks regularly so I'm better-able to teach and/or play them, because we got so many rules incorrect. But it was still fun, and we may play again tonight.

I walked out with a handful of promos for games I own.

I hope your local TableTop Day went well and you had a good time.