Is the Story Games forum an insular community?



  • I only started to lurk after the migration to G+ had happened.

    So for me the forum was always relatively 'slow' with only a few regular and semi-regular posters. I always thought that its 'slow thoughtful pace' and sort of 'family atmosphere' were some of its greatest merits.

    Looks like a lot of you miss those old intense days but for me the current one is the golden era. (Even if we have areas to improve.
    The 2013 thread about empowering women gamers and the new one about * of Ancients were very illuminating)

    Maybe this different experience and expectation is why I originally reacted to the OPs question as to a threat e.g. risking good results for uncertain outsiders.

    I would definitely try to improve for myself and for other posters (I still have no idea what is Aviatrix problem with the forum community). But for strangers who does not even post here? I really dont have the time and energy to care about them.
  • edited April 2019
    I’m going to respond to @Aviatrix here, because I think she has a lot to offer and some good insight on this topic.

    Please read charitably, and give me the benefit of the doubt if I sound sceptical or sarcastic or passive aggressive - I’m asking with honest curiosity and a desire to help change things for the better. (And, if I can do that better, I’d love to learn how!)
    Or this horrorshow from 2013?
    I’m quite curious about this. I didn’t read the 2011 thread (I was likely a part of it, but I couldn’t find it just now) but I participated in and just reread the thread from 2013.

    There are a few dissenting opinions, and some disagreement. However, it was a thread where everyone learned a lot. Everyone spoke politely and intelligently, and everyone seemed to have the same goal in mind. It was unfortunate that the focus turned to the issue of certain gaming spaces being closed to men-folk, but that is a touchy topic, and we managed to steer ourselves back to fruitful conversation. Many people posted to say that the discussion was eye opening and maybe even life changing for them.

    Even in the case of contentious issues, the majority consensus appears to be a welcoming and progressive one, despite a few dissenters.

    While I agree that there were some serious issues with the conversation, is it fair to call that a “horror show”?

    I am trying to imagine the same conversation happening in any other forum, and... maybe my imagination is limited, but I don’t see it going any better. I’ve always come here precisely because I enjoy the progressive and open-minded atmosphere.

    Are there places online where this conversation would have gone much better?

    I ask out of honest curiosity. I’ve never seen a community that’s open to the public where there would be a lower level of dissent and fewer people asking for more information. (I have certainly seen social media and other carefully curated environments have more progressive discussions, sure, but don’t those environments only function that way by forcibly excluding participation? In other words, if we don’t allow anyone who disagrees to participate, of course it’s going to feel easier to talk about certain issues. But, then, how are we going to reach those people who might most need to be a part of that conversation?)

    Again, honestly curious. I am aware that my perspective on this might be totally skewed or that I may be blind to the way this might look or feel to those coming from a different background than me.

    It’s just... if this is a “horror show”, what do we call the rest of the internet?

    The one thing that struck me in that thread was a constant level of support from all participants, even the ones with dissenting opinions: “yes, we wish this was better, and we are interested in making it better together”. That seemed to remain constant despite occasional disagreements about specifics, and I found that very heartening. Several people said that their minds were changed by that conversation, as well, which is significant (and rare).

    Have things changed that much?

    Has any thread criticizing how things work here ever led to real change?
    That’s a very real criticism. I think there has been some change, but it’s been very slow and very incremental. We could do a lot better on that front.

    Does anyone wonder why most of the designers who founded this place have left?
    I always assumed it was because of the rise of social media (c.f. How many people flocked back when G+ was shutting down!) and because there isn’t a huge audience here to reach. I assume that someone like a Vincent Baker would prefer to post on Twitter, not because the quality of the conversation is better there, but because they’d rather reach a larger audience.

    Or are there designers who don’t come here because they feel excluded in some way? (I’m not aware of any, but I’d love to hear if that’s the case. I’m sure there are some, but I’m not aware of any trends along those lines.)

    Or why there are so few women regulars here?
    I may be ignorant on this point. Are there rpg design communities that attract a lot more women? (Again, aside from social circles.)

    And quite a few of our “regulars” are women, as far as we can tell from their handles. (Sandra, Lisa, Emma, and Aviatrix, for instance, are all regular contributors who are very highly visible in the community, and Sandra probably generates more discussion than any other single poster.) A few people in this thread have said that they are here precisely because they enjoy the gender diversity among the posters, and find it more balanced than other forums.

    Still, we can and should be doing more. I’m glad discussions are under way. The community as a whole seems very ready to try to adopt changes, as far as I can see, and that’s promising.

    Or why this place is so disconnected from what's going on in the mainstream of indie design I see in places like twitter or, god help me, Facebook?
    Not sure about this one. I’ve always assumed it was just the effect of the popularity of social media.

    As a contrast, G+ was very popular for RPG discussion, to the point of seeming like THE central place for that online. However, every non-gamer acquaintance (and even most gamer friends) I’ve ever spoken to about it had no idea it even still existed or that there were people using it. Does that mean that G+ was just as insular? (I don’t know.)

    I see no point in ragequitting or flouncing, so I'll do neither. But I also won't recommend anyone who asks me that they come here.
    I’m glad you’re not leaving! You add a lot of value to this community and I’m always incredibly happy to see you posting in any thread.


    Where do you recommend people go, instead?

    Thanks, again, for being brave and going against the prevailing opinion somewhat - it’s really appreciated and I hope you’ll have more to say, if you’re willing.
  • I love the Story Games forum for its mix of bright, experienced, friendly and open-minded people.
    If the posts weren't often seemingly unnecessarily long for my taste, I'd be much more engaged.

    What is a great turn-off to a lot of people in my opinion are these lengthy responses & discussions. While this is great on some topics, I think a lot of players & designers would like to get brief & concise answers to their questions.
    Certainly everywhere else on the internet, most expert forums (and in a way this is an expert forum) make an effort to keep their responses as focused as possible.
    On SG, people seem to love to discuss topics as much as possible, not as concise as possible. While this is the accepted modus operandi on SG, I feel this as a certain disrespect of readers" limited time and attention.

    There were many topics that I have discovered on SG. But when I saw the lenghty posts, I didn't feel like catching up and joining the conversation.
    How do you find the time to write & read that much on a forum? Who has so much time in the modern world? I believe this creates a forum with a very limited audience.
  • It’s just... if this is a “horror show”, what do we call the rest of the internet?
    A place where I never ever go! I mean, the existence of [other site #1], [other site #2], [other site #3] or god forbid even that hellhole [other site #4], and the fact that I never ever go on there, doesn't excuse S-G. You can't point to the worst enemy of all time that is, to say, the Internet for your tu quoque.

  • Ha! I don’t think pointing to other people’s bad behaviour can ever serve as an excuse for anything; I just wonder how we can calibrate our expectations to be reasonable.

    I’ve always taken the stance that a public setting is going to have a variety of opinions, and that’s a good and healthy thing. But we should always be on the lookout to improve how we talk to each other and to learn to treat each other better. From my perspective, Story Games is pretty good at that - but I’m aware that may not be he case for everyone, which is why we’re having these discussions now.
  • edited May 2019

    Maybe this different experience and expectation is why I originally reacted to the OPs question as to a threat e.g. risking good results for uncertain outsiders.
    I wonder now if others have felt similarly, that me proposing that SG could a have problem (being insular to newcomers and other groups), means I want SG as it is now to go away.

    I can see where coming from here I think, if you like a place and someone is suggesting it might not be as great, could definitely make folks feel like I and others are saying we want the thing you like to change or go away.

    I think life and evolution has trained us to see many things in a territorial and zero sum game sort of way. If others "win" or get what they want, well it must naturally follow that we "lose"

    So I guess I hear you that SG has been a great place for many of us (me too by the way) and I don't want it to change those aspects. I'd just like to make sure we can make it work for many others too if we can. You certainly can't make everyone happy but I'd like to know I've done everything I can.

    To put it another way, I think this can be a win win situation. Acknowledgeing the feelings and experiences of others and improving ourselves and our community while keeping the stuff that many already enjoy.

  • edited May 2019
    Also a point about Aviatrix,

    If she wants to weigh in more on this topic that would be awesome for sure.

    However, nobody wants to be a poster child for something. I suspect most of us would rather be playing or talking about games. And she doesn't owe us a response on this thread or topic. If she wants to be done with all this that's her call.

    Furthermore, what's she's said already is not invalidated because she doesn't continue the Belabor the point.

    And regarding others shes refered to, Yes it maybe someone's "opinion" that they feel unwelcome, but that doesn't make them wrong. Obviously some things are inherently subjective, but that doesn't make them any less powerful forces in our lives.

    I suspect some here may feel personally attacked, that we are saying you specifically are taking deliberate action to make others feel unwelcome, but thats not usually the case. It's more complicated than that.

    We don't often think of culture as we create it, we just act. Our actions have unintended consequences and in aggregate we become a community. I'm only saying if someone says there maybe a problem it's worth examing.
  • Well said, Kenny. Exactly right.
  • After all the criticism, I'd like to add one more thing:
    I appreciate the wonderful people here on SG!
    With all the aggressive polarization everywhere else on the internet, it's refreshing to have a forum where I experience the conversations as open-minded, kind, well meaning, appreciative.
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