This post is a part of the #RPGaDAY series for 2017 by David F. Chapman and RPGBrigade. For more information, see this post at AUTOCRATIK. I'm modifying per suggestions from S. John Ross as well as applying my own interpretations. Comment with your answers or links to your own posts!
Day 3 - How do you find out about new RPGs?
When first embarking on this #RPGaDay journey, I decided that I would make the effort to be able to state answers succinctly. Not that I wouldn't give myself room to meander and tangent, as I do, but that the core answer to the core question could be summed up easily. As much as I would be tempted to do so, I didn't want to have my answers turn into big laundry lists of items. Today's question proved initially challenging to that resolution, though, since it's really become something of a mission for me to keep an eye out for new RPGs. Between social media, podcasts, blogs, and good, old-fashioned meatspace friends, "word of mouth" seems like a strong contender as a summary. But it got me to thinking about what "word of mouth" really means in this age where everybody is a reporter and broadcaster, and it seems more and more even like everybody is a publisher. Plus, I do still keep half an eye on publishers' official news, and while conventions could possibly be considered a "word of mouth" forum, they really still are kind of "industry" in a way. Eventually, though, it dawned on me that the word I was really looking for is community.
Let's not pretend that that's not a word that can lead to some trouble. The term "RPG community" will mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and it doesn't always mean good things, either. It does to me, though. The RPG community I'm speaking of are all the players, GMs, designers, publishers, artists, and other contributors that make the RPG space a space where people can feel welcome and safe and have fun. I've met glorious, wonderful people through RPGs. I've made outstanding and loving friends. There are people I game with now that I was gaming with 25 years ago in schoolrooms and basements. There are people I game with now that I met at cons mere months ago. There I people I game with now that I've never met, at least not in person. And all of these people have added something to my life -- something important. My life is richer for it, and that is no small thing. So this community, the one I take part in and love, is the one I take pride in and is the one that provides me with the unending parade of delights that keep my life going: new RPGs.
But that's not a very actionable answer. To those who know me and are familiar with my ridiculous Kickstarter habit, it may be surprising that I think my number one vector for learning about new games is actually not Kickstarter, but social media. I keep tabs on a lot of game designers, both ones that I'm friends with and ones I've never met. It will surprise no one that game designers will promo their own games quite a bit. But there are two additional factors that I think make this such a rich vein of information. One, game designers will talk about other designers' games as well. As with any flourishing artistic community, success for one brings success for all, and designers will talk about other designers whose work they admire, work on collaborative projects, participate in contests, game jams, anthologies... The number of ways that knowing one designer can lead to hearing about a dozen more is staggering. Two, and importantly, game designers are also players. They'll talk about games just to talk about games. So by the time I'm backing a game on Kickstarter, chances are good that it's not the first time I'm hearing about it. Social media that's not about tracking individual designers are things like Facebook Groups and Google+ Communities, both of which have many examples of spaces dedicated to ferreting out new games. (Looking for some direction? Feel free to hit me up on Facebook or Google+ and I'll be happy to get you started.)
Most of the rest of new games I find out about come from podcasts and blogs, which I'm grouping together because they both largely occupy the same space as far as this question is concerned: interested people broadcasting their interests to...well, people like me. In my own personal podcast rotation, probably the top contenders for finding out about new games would be The Gauntlet Podcast, The Misdirected Mark Podcast, One Shot, and Modifier. For blogs, it's a bit harder to concentrate on a few, as I pick up bits and pieces from all different blogs. The big exceptions, though, are blogs or collections dedicated particularly to new RPGs (generally new Kickstarters) like Egg Embry's crowdfunding posts at Téssera or Jennifer Fuss' truly excellent "Crowdfunding Collection" series at Teylen's RPG Corner.
Finally, I have to spare a moment or two to talk about RPG conventions. You probably won't get the same volume of new game exposure from a convention that you'd get from podcasts and blogs, particularly not as a time-spent-to-new-games-learned-about ratio. Sure, maybe you could haunt the dealer's room or pore over the event schedule, but the strength of the convention approach is the quality of the experience. First, instead of just hearing a game's name or hearing people talk about a game, you get to actually play the game, which will teach you more about a new game than any other approach possibly could. Second, you get to meet other gamers, which, if you circle back up to what I was saying a couple paragraphs earlier, is an intensely rich vector to learning about new games. Personally, I favor local cons over the big-name events, but whatever your preference, if you can spare the time, expense, and social energy, an RPG convention is a pretty excellent way to spend a weekend or so.