Social Media. It's supposed to bring us together. It's supposed to make the sharing of ideas and creating connections across the globe easier. I've made some good gaming friends over Social Media that I would otherwise have never met, and thanks to things like Virtual Lard, I even get to play with some of them sometimes.
Sometimes it doesn't though. People have opinions and like to share them. We like to share our hobby and exchange ideas and enthusiasm too. But folks can hold their opinions very strongly. You think something is fun, so it's hard for some people to understand that not everyone has to enjoy the same things, or in the same way.
It all started with newsletters and magazines. Type written and run off the office Gestetner. Stapled and folded and mailed out. Back when production costs were reasonably low and there were no other outlets for the enthusiasm. But we still argued. I had a multi issue argument with the writer of Napoleon's Battles in the letters column of the now gone MWAN. I was a cheeky bugger.
Newsletters have pretty much died. I think even digital newsletters like Bell of Lost Souls have trouble gaining traction since they tend to be very focused to a specific game or region and are actually very work intensive to generate for little to no income. Must Contain Minis is a labour of love and enthusiasm, but I wonder how much attention and ad revenue it garners? The creators have to keep flexing their other Social Media presence to direct people to their newsletter.
Magazines seem to be in a death spiral. As production and mailing costs rocket they become less viable. Especially in North America were our expansive geography makes life hard for the small companies so they have even less money to buy advertising. Wargames Illustrated has stopped sending physical copies overseas. Digital is the obvious solution, but I find Digital magazines hard to read on small screens and honestly I forget about them. I've got a few issues on my hard drive and rarely remember them. Since I don't read a magazine in one sitting, they're easily forgotten and left unfinished when I get up from the computer. Not that I want to read a magazine sitting at my computer.
|My library of old magazines which I still dig through on occasion.|
|The one I subscribe to. Good balance of interesting articles and eye-candy.|
E-mail Listservs. Remember these? They weren't bad, but gosh was it easy to get into arguments in those early days of social media when we were all unaware of written versus spoken tone and discovering that our sarcastic sense of humor was often lost in the translation. I'm happy to have less in my email in box anyway. I'm still on one for Two Fat Lardy games. Not sure why.
Forums. I'm a member of a few forums. I forget to go visit them. You can get good in depth discussion and build threads over weeks and months as you add to a project, which is cool. But sharing photos is clumsy since you have to have a photo sharing site like Flickr, which all want money nowadays. Or older posts (and the archived posts are part of the appeal) get broken as those photo links break when the author drops older pics from the free photo sharing site because they've hit their memory limits.
Blogs. Well, you're here reading this aren't you? A few folks have talked about the death of blogs, but I'm sticking with them. I like the writing. I can share my stuff, write battle reports, reviews and more in depth musings than is appropriatefora Tweet. I can turn the battle reports into short stories when I get the creative inspiration. I suppose this post might fall into the "TL;DR" category. I'm sure it won't get as many hits as a game post with lots of pictures. But this is my public access gaming diary. I will often go back to older posts to refresh my memory about what I did, or just to enjoy an amusing story I wrote. So I'll stick with blogging. As Oscar Wilde said so well:
Facebook groups. Easy for quick shares of painting and battle reports. There is a Facebook group for any game system or genre that you want. Probably several. Of course anyone can join, so you do run into the occasional idiot. Most Administrators are good, but I left the 15mm Science Fiction game group because of politics. Got into a slight argument with a button counter on one of the Napoleonic groups too. "Hide" and "mute" are essential to keeping one's sanity and not getting dragged into flame wars. But you aren't going to see anything new that is outside of your interest.
Vlogs and Podcasts. I'm not really into the YouTube, but from what I hear from those who are, it seems to be an awful lot of grief from trolls just to make your painting or history video. But even the trolly engagement generates traffic and ad revenue so I gather it's a careful balancing act. I don't watch videos much unless I want a quick primer on a historical topic or a game play through to see if I want to buy a new set of rules (a trio of game play videos sold me on Xenos Rampant and helped with learning O Group and General d'Armee). I don't understand how people can watch a Youtube video while they paint. I'm too focused on my hands to pay attention. Ironically I'm on Youtube, some of the CWP (see below) has been published as video. But I don't often watch it to be honest, because I'm painting.
Podcasts. Well I'm co-hosting one aren't I? Find it here at The Canadian Wargamer Podcast. I'm starting to think that I don't really have anything new or novel hot takes on the hobby. When I do think I'm onto something, someone smarter says it better somewhere else, so I'm mainly there to have a friendly chat with my bestie Mike and whoever we get on to interview. Talking about wargaming is always fun anyways. This blog post is really me just organizing my thoughts for an upcoming Podcast on the subject.
App based sites like Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, Hive and Mastadon. I've been trying all these as alternatives to Twitter, as that site is breaking under a billionaire's egomaniacal mid-life crisis. Instagram and Tumbler you can't have really conversations. Instagram is for me, really only good for watching cheering cat videos. Hive and Mastadon are very siloed and it's hard to get conversations going. Tumbler, well it seems to be full of lonely people screaming into the void and pornbots.
My little corner of Twitter is full of amusing fellows with similar attitudes to games and miniatures. Maybe it's an echo chamber, but I'm there for miniature gaming, not political philosophy. But the easy banter and .gif humor is good, which is why so far I've stuck with it. I've certainly discovered some things that I wouldn't have heard about on Facebook as some of my connections show off their interests.
So I'm sticking with Twitter for the moment. I carefully curate who I follow and what I interact with. Regularly use "Block" and "Mute" and avoid interacting with political posts, even if I agree with them, to keep my feed pretty gaming and history focused. It mostly works. But Twitter wants to keep pushing stuff at you, which is super annoying.
But that is the tension isn't it, as we learn to manage staying connected with people while avoiding the trolls and keeping Digital Big Corporate Brother's hands out of our wallets and data.