It's seven, make that eight, minutes after one in the morning on a very early Saturday morning, as I sit down and light the fire on my internal writing engine. At times, I feel like a coffee pot that is always left on - and I don't even drink coffee.
Nothing left in the pot, but I must pour. Pouring words into the PBM cups of interest that you keep on drinking and emptying. But shouldn't we all just play more PBM games, instead? After all, isn't that how we fix PBM?
I never suffer under a self-inflicted delusion that PBM gaming can be fixed. Maybe it can, maybe it can't. The list of things wrong with it would fill a voluminous tome. Plus, generally speaking, there tends to be a wholesale lack of will to fix the things that ail it. Even so, PBM remains a favorite interest of mine, and hence, a favorite topic of mine. I can write about it, when I lack the energy or interest to write on anything else.
But no more PBM games than I have actually tried and played down through the years/decades, it's a true wonder that I can write much of anything about PBM, at all. By this point in time, it is doubtful that any PBM game will replace my great and enduring love for Hyborian War. Some may think that game to be one ugly duckling, but it is hardly my fault if you can't recognize the Cinderella of play by mail gaming when you see her.
In the previous issue of PBM Chaos, one of the things that I touched upon was copyright notices in PBM gaming - as dreadfully boring of a subject as there's ever been. Yet, it's always interest to see both what generates any discussion, at all, and what doesn't. Much of PBM gaming came into existence in another era (several eras back, actually), and I can't help but to admire the precision that went into some aspects of PBM documentation, while simultaneously being aghast at a lot of what else that tried to pass itself off as documentation for PBM games.
Back when the vast majority of PBM games were first created, there as no social media, there was no Internet. These days, the concept of "sharing" is ubiquitous, but way back then, the concept of sharing routinely took on more nefarious connotations. Copyright considerations existed then, and copyright considerations still exist all these decades later.
Never you mind that PBM companies and PBM GMs routinely shared player names and addresses, back then - and the sharing of what's now deemed "personal information" or "personal data" may well be a bigger issue, now, than copyright issues. But sharing back then was often associated with "stealing." After all, PBM companies and GMs needed to look out for their intellectual property rights and interests. Fast forward to the present era, and sharing on social media is now all the rage. My, oh my, oh my! How the world gets stood on its head with the passage of time and changes in how we all communicate.
If only something associated with PBM gaming would go viral.
But PBM could never be so lucky, huh? As I sit here pondering such things in the darkened world of this early morning hour (now 1:39AM), I find myself reflecting upon how trying to play PBM games for the first time can be akin to trying to open canned food without a decent can opener. Could PBM companies and GMs make it any harder? Could they make the learning curves for their PBM games any bigger or more difficult?
But at least they have their verbose copyright notices. At least they've got that going for them. For some reason, my mind has now wandered to actor Bill Murray (whom I will take this moment out to profess my love for - well, for his acting prowess, anyway. And his sense of timing. And his sense of humor, a bottomless well of laughter just waiting to brighten your day).
Pop quiz! Quick, what's the best deal going in all of PBM gaming, today?
While you think on that a bit, I'll just continue to ramble on about PBM just kind of at random. After all, as bad as it is whenever I start talking about PBM gaming, just imagine how empty these issues of PBM Chaos would seem, if I said nothing at all, and only included ads for various PBM games. It would certainly take less time, if I went that route. Davin Church of Talisman Games certainly appreciates the value of time, as well as possesses an appreciation for the never-ending shortage of it. As does Lee Kline of Reality Simulations.
How about if we change gears, and head on over to the subject of interest and awareness? If your a PBM company or a PBM GM, do your PBM game(s) suffer from a lack of interest, or a lack of awareness? They're not one and the same thing, after all.
Far, far more than a lack of interest, PBM gaming as a whole tends to suffer from an acute lack of awareness. That someone doesn't know your game exists should never be taken to mean, therefore, that they don't have an interest in your game. Now, within the context of just those who read PBM Chaos, you're more likely, I think, to encounter a lack of interest, than you are a lack of awareness. But within the overall player base of all PBM gamers, a lack of awareness may well rear its ugly head higher than a lack of interest in your PBM game(s).
Over in the Duel2 player community, or in the Phoenix:Beyond the Stellar Empire player community, or even in the DungeonWorld player community, do they even think about maybe giving a PBM game like Galac-Tac a try? If I had to venture a guess, purely a guess, I'd probably say, "No, they probably don't." Then again, why would they?
The last couple of issues of PBM Chaos, as well as this issue of PBM Chaos, I seem to be mentioning Galac-Tac more and more. Why is that? Well, I'm trying to raise awareness of it. And one way to do that is by talking about it. Another way to do it is by including advertisements for it. But is any of it effective, at all?
Well, after PBM Chaos Issue #12 went out, I had someone out there to write to me, and this is part of what they said. "I've read the rules for Galac-Tac and find the game quite interesting."
That counts, right?
But if only it was a dozen that had written in like that. Or better yet, a hundred! But you've got to have both awareness and interest, simultaneously, to pull something like that off. And you probably also need a third leg for that table - reach. PBM Chaos, for better or for worse, only has a very limited reach. It's entire readership is only a fraction of all PBM gamers. And since PBM gaming is a hobby interest of mine, and not a business, I don't tend to run a lot of paid ads elsewhere, not even to raise awareness of PBM Chaos, itself. And that one paid ad that I ran (on Facebook) was a long while back, and PBM Chaos didn't even exist at that time.
But if you want to talk about PBM games and advertising, especially on Facebook, then Raven Zachary is the man that you want to speak to, not me.
Poor Raven. In recent months, he's kind of pulled back on his PBM-related activities a bit. Not entirely, but definitely a bit. Yet, I keep on mentioning him, and for good reason. The feeling that I get, correctly or incorrectly, is that it isn't his interest in PBM gaming that has diminished, but his patience for some of what he encounters in and across the PBM sphere.
Has his time in the PBM sun come and gone, though? Or said another way, has the new on PBM gaming worn off? Which leads me to wonder whether it isn't true that, to most if not all PBM companies and PBM GMs, the new has worn off of their games to them?
And unfortunately, since PBM companies, especially, don't tend to bring new PBM games into existence anymore, for the most part, when you run out of new, what do you do?
To those PBM players who love a particular PBM game, has the new ever worn off the game? For many, I would say that the answer to that question is, "Yes." After all, many who love a particular PBM game might crave changes and improvements be made to their favorite game, and it frustrates them to no end that PBM companies and GMs just can't perceive how much better that their favorite PBM game would be, if only those changes and improvements were made.
But for some, the new never wears off.
Ah, if we could only turn the hands of time back to a time when such unbridled innocence was found in vast abundance in and across the realm of play by mail gaming! These days, it seems more and more rare to encounter PBM gamers for whom the new hasn't worn off of a particular PBM game. Alas!