Goodbye, Google+, You'll be Missed, At Least By RPG Fans

#1

Sometime in 2014, I found myself in a video chatroom with a guy named Austin Walker—who you might know as Waypoint’s Editor-in-Chief. The occasion was a game of Torchbearer, a roleplaying game which aimed to distill the old school D&D dungeon crawl into its essence, run by a mutual friend, who Austin knew in real life and I’d met online. During some downtime, I asked Austin if he was the guy who wrote that good blog post about about race in Animal Crossing. He confirmed he was, then asked me if I was the guy who wrote that equally good thing on games and labor in Jacobin, which I was. Then we set about playing some Torchbearer.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/gyan3x/google-plus-rpgs
1 Like
#2

Google Plus wound up putting me in contact with folks running the sorts of games I like, which turned into a regular Tuesday night D&D game over Hangouts, which turned into a company, first kickstarting publication of the first dungeons that we played, then expanding out to other publications.

Wouldn’t have been possible without G+. I’m sorry to see it go, but hope that we can build something better in the future.

2 Likes
#4

I’m sorry if I missed it in the article, but what did G+ do that made it particularly conducive to the tabletop community? I never used it so don’t have much of a head for how it worked.

#5

I think Hangouts was the biggest factor - having a really good video chat client that you could easily connect to if you were on G+, along with the mentioned plugins, seems to have made it suuuuuper easy to play TTRPGs with other designers and playtest and all that good stuff.

Hangouts obviously still exists but having it connected to this social hub where designers could communicate about games and help each other out and all that good shit seems to have been the big thing.

4 Likes
#6

Ah right. So there are still the options available, but they aren’t as convenient as before. Shame.

#7

I never really actively engaged with G+ but I appreciated it as a useful resource for a lot of different rpg communities and I stumbled on many interesting discussions through it.

I’ve previously been disappointed by del.icio.us and google reader being dumped and I get that feeling of loss of ownership of intangible internet stuff.

I’m pretty happy to return to forums (here and the Gauntlet forums particularly) for now. I know that they’re a pretty dated format but they sure feel familiar and I think that people have learned a lot from several years of internet garbage wars to be able to build these spaces as more deliberately safer and inclusive communities.

1 Like
#8

G+ had a few things going for it that gave it a strong TTRPG presence. The first were distinct community forums you could contribute to and see in your feed using one login. the second was Hangous as mentioned by @Forrest. The third is that as a centralized social media platform, cross pollination between communities happened as folks added each other as individuals and saw posts from both individuals & communities.

This had the benefit of having focused communities that could curate memberships and have discussions related to their focus, while still having a open common space for general chat. This meant that the entire platform wasn’t dominated by a single personality or brand that the platform the brand was built upon. Google + was the service, but not the product as it were.

The downside of that was that once the service lost new engagement, & new advertising data to sell to other companies, it lost value. Since the space was owned by a corporation that had no vested interest in TTRPGs as a product or community, we lost that platform.

The biggest challenge at the moment is that it’s hard, really hard for creators to make a living wage working in tabletop. Either you get a salary from a Big Brand, or you bust ass as a freelancer & often get shafted (there’s a lot of horror stories about this) or you’re an independant creator, making games, or zines, or a podcst, you youtube vids, or streaming, or blogs. The community’s not big enough to make ad revenue work for any but the biggest names, so it falls to either selling games & merch or crowdfunding to support creators.

For the crowdfunding or sales models to work, creators often have to build communities of their own, or become a prominent figure in an existing community. With communities scattered to more isolated platforms like Discord channels, cross-pollination is much rarer now since we’re not all in the same ‘place’ sharing a common public platform.

The Gauntlet Forums are totally free and public, and there are lots of great users from the Gauntlet community & it’s growing fast. Gauntlet is a great place for discussion on a great variety of games, & a lot of original content through the paid zine Codex & the free podcasts.

The Itch forums have an opportunity to grow and be a direct connection to a lot of game creators, & I think it’s going to have a big part to play as well, but a totally different focus to Gauntlet.

Private spaces also have their role to play as well, allowing for folks -especially marginalised folks- to curate their community, & have discussions where they don’t have to be publicly ‘on’ for a wider community.

4 Likes
#9

I’m curious to know if people feel Discord is the next place for people wanting to play tabletop games online. The platform makes it super easy to setup group video calls and it’s really easy to develop chat bots that could help handle game mechanics like dice rolling.

It also seems like the perfect place for finding one shots or new groups to play with given how easy it is to join servers.

#10

Discord makes a lot of sense as the successor to G+ in terms of drop-in games, open tables, and ease of connection. It’s not so hot for long-term discussion, though (conversations move too quickly and wind up being ephemeral).