Well, it looks like Chris provided the welcome message, so I can get right into it. It’s traditional for a blog’s first post to be about blogging itself, and I’ll all for tradition, so let me start out by telling you how much I loathe board game blogs. But first, I have to evoke some painful memories…
My first experience with Internet discourse (can we just call that “intercourse” for short?) was rec.games.board on Usenet. I started posting heavily in 1998 (the year I could finally afford to buy these beautiful games); in fact, it was here (more accurately, here) where the Rip City Gamers was first formed. When the Mav-Kohr wars started getting out of hand, a mailing list was formed and people quickly bailed when they found the action was gone.
Spielfrieks started out a kinder, gentler group. Unfortunately, it required a threaded mail reader with a filter defined just to reproduce the Usenet experience. Eventually, I just read it via the web interface. However, as conversation on Spielfrieks was more casual, it eventually got a bit cliquish; I would notice that a new person could post something insightful without getting a response, but if an established person posted something light or less worthy, it would get several responses. As the popularity of the hobby increased, and the volume of the mailing list with it, it got to be so much work that I eventually unsubscribed from Spielfrieks and its offshoots (e.g., Nigglybits).
I still try to read some web forums, most notably the BoardGameGeek (BGG) forums. As a forum ages, it too get a bit cliquish, especially with the presence of avatars and, on some forums, a post count. What I’ve noticed on BGG is that the majority of discussion is no longer strictly Euros. Wargamers are migrating from Consimworld, and the rabid fans of big games like Doom, Arkham Horror, and Heroscape are spilling over the publishers' own message boards onto the ‘Geek. I appreciate the egalitarian nature of the ‘Geek, but it’s getting out of hand, especially the game articles; you have to check every day for new articles or else they will roll over.
Which brings us to blogs. A blogger recently penned “Blogs are where the interesting boardgame conversations are taking place.” I vehemently disagree. The current organization of RSS feeds makes blogging the most ephemeral of all the forums; if you don’t jump in with a comment right away, you’re usually speaking to the void. For one example, look at Chris Farrell’s blog (I pick on Chris because I like his content the most, and I tend to agree with him anyways). His Euro thoughts would be at home on Spielfrieks or BGG (particularly his scathing comments on Shadows Over Camelot), but, as it is, the nature of blogs makes it a one-sided argument; the blogger is presumed to be correct until proven otherwise. On the other hand, Chris’ interests vary so much (CCGs, wargames, RPGs, etc.) that it would not make sense for him to exclusively post on any one public forum. Being condensed in one place makes it an interesting overview of one man’s tastes, but some of his views warrant discussion in a more open forum, in my opinion. The blogger I quoted above went on to write: “the good conversations are spilling over into multiple blogs.” To me, that’s just sad that folks are holding discussions so indirectly, but not surprising in a world in which I see city parks empty on the weekends.
An example of an appropriate use of blogs is The Tao of Gaming, where Brian often posts his first impressions of games. He has a sharp mind, and it is interesting to read his initial analysis; posting something like this on a broader forum is unwise, especially as it encourages more dull minds to post first impressions. When he is ready for a review, he does cross-post this on the Geek. I hope I do not sound overly curmudgeonly; while I do think that my Usenet experience has been the best so far, I have hopes that this is just part of a painful transition to an ideal end. I understand that the hobby has grown so much that a single, truly democratic forum is only a utopian’s dream, which is why I have focused primarily on the local scene.
That brings us to this blog. What motivated me to initiate it were several recent lists of folks’ favorite blogs; for some inexplicable reason, Eric Landes, Mike Deans, and Chris Brooks keep showing up on these lists. I thought to myself “What do these guys have in common? Oh yeah – I regularly hand them their asses.” That’s right – we’re all in the same gaming group, which most of us affectionately refer to as Rip City Gamers. My gaming thoughts on my own blog get buried in a mound of music posts, so I thought what better way to expose them to more people then to mooch off the established exposure of my comrades.
The title of the blog is a tongue-in-cheek title I gave to our semi-annual gaming retreat at Doug’s vacation home. Not everyone here appreciates the joke, so if you have a better idea for our blog (ideally with some reference to the Pacific Northwest), we’re all ears. Just propose something in the comments. It’s to be expected that the denizens here will be poking fun at each other. Also, to give our communal blog a unique spin, in the first full week of each month, our blog will feature a Question of the Month that each of us will respond to. Eric is working on the initial one, so I will see you next Monday with my answer to his query.
Until then, don’t get me started on podcasts…