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Kudos, Komplaints or Kriticism, I don't Kare!

Erich S. Arendall March 21, 2000

...And to think, I'm going to have to see those misspellings every time I run my spell checker.

We've all heard that there's little to no money in gaming. Gods, how we've heard it - seems to be on the minds of every designer who has 'been there' lately. Heck, even designers who are on their first projects are harping on the subject a lot lately. And I think I know why...

Most, if not all, people who commit any time to anything role-playing related, new systems, world supplements, web sites - you name it - do it because they are enthused about gaming. They love gaming. I do too. If I didn't I wouldn't write this column. If they didn't love gaming why would they devote all their time to these projects, certainly not for the money. That goes especially for the people who offer free information, systems, whatever. Money is not an issue.

Like a child drawing picture, designers design their systems, writers write fan fiction or character histories (some even do crazy things like write a monthly or weekly column!), artists create visual representations of characters and scenes. Then, like the same child wanting his picture on the refrigerator, the creations are posted for all the world to see, via print and web. And all who post in one form or another eagerly await to see who's watching. However, web counters or sales aren't quite enough. The creators know that people see what they're doing, but that doesn't mean they know what people think.

At least when a child posts his picture on the refrigerator a parent is there to say something. There was a discussion in the Pyramid Online chat room recently about this sort of thing. Adam, who runs The Shadowrun Supplemental told me that the most feedback he receives is for misspelling, but at least it lets him know that people are reading. And I think that's really what these creators, these people who enhance or give us the game, want. Feedback. Not necessarily grammatical corrections, not praise, but feedback in general - something to let the creator know that you're not just glancing then running.

At the previously mentioned conversation on Pyramid, we observed how little e-mail is received in response to a page, despite how good it might be and how much work was put into it. A user going by the name of Vaxalon claimed it was because people didn't want to interrupt their browsing by opening e-mail. Which is an interesting point, he (or she, I'm not quite sure... Vaxalon, could be either) infers that people are willing to read through multiple pages, but to minimize their browsers and write a comment would be much too much work.

The words 'sorry state of affairs' come to mind, but that's the old fogey in me waiting to come out. The truth of it is the fact that people are lazy. It's either that or they're ignorant of how much the people who do all this work rely an depend on feedback to keep it going. I am firmly convinced that half the fan sites that are put up shut down because they never heard from what they considered to be 'enough people'. Of course, too many real life obligations to devote time to the page are also a prime factor.

And now we're back to the money issue. I really can't say it better than Elizabeth McCoy, the Line Editor for In Nomine when she said:

Feedback is important in the professional area of things for the Line Editor hat -- it lets one know if one is doing things right or wrong. However, it's sometimes hard to decipher who's a 'squeaky wheel' and when the feedback really means something. For the author side, and non-pro LE side, positive feedback is really important. I don't do this for the money -- I do it for the FAME! MUWHAHAHAHA. Ahem.
Although, I would contend that even well constructed criticisms are almost as welcome as positive feedback. Money isn't the issue. Games are crafted out of love of the game (even the shoddy systems!), and people are often inclined to share their works of love. And when people share something they deserve a 'Thank you'.

Think about that the next time you're visiting one of your favorite sites, flipping through a well-worn gaming book, or even thinking about a gaming system you enjoy. Take the time to send an e-mail, they deserve it - it's not as if they're getting paid enough! Although I would recommend not suggest any system changes, especially if it would throw the rest of the system out of whack.

If it seems a bit inadequate to just say 'Kewl page, d00d' or 'I like your system', you're somewhat right. I can guarantee that it'll still be welcomed, though. If that's all you can think of to say, go for it. But if you tell the creator what you like, or even what you dislike (tactfully) - well, you've made a friend for life. ...Or at the very minimum encouraged the creator to keep creating. And if creator keep creating, they keep learning, so the same creations don't all have the same neophyte mistakes.

Hey, it's February and I talked about love and gaming! How about that? Okay, next month the gloves come off again. ...Unless of course you prefer the 'lighter side of', I won't know unless I get some feedback! ;)

Erich S. Arendall

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What do you think?

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