The Closing of the Forge

June 1, 2012

Today is the scheduled day for the closing of the Forge Forums.

If you enjoy what I write here, you can attribute it to the time I spent at the Forge – much of what I write is directly stuff developed from Forge ideas.

A trail of a messy process

It’s always been funny because over the years, I see so many people applaud something I’ve written AND turn around and say how the Forge is full of bullshit, even when what I wrote was exactly Forge stuff. It’s funny when I still see people say stuff like, “Forgies HATE gamism” and then link my D&D tactics or skill challenge advice.

I do think the Forge IS generally impenetrable, and that’s mostly because the hot period of development was a lot of people trying to deprogram gamer baggage from their heads while developing a new language to describe what they see – while in the discussion space equivalent of a mosh pit.

Projections vs. Effects

Internet culture and weird gamer status issues always assumed the point was one of religious conversion – that basically any theory was developed solely with the idea of changing everyone’s mind, or that any game was made with the goal of becoming bigger than D&D…

Instead of the fact that right now you can go to major game communities and find people talking about actual play instead of admonitions about what perfect, theoretical play looks like, or that people accept that indeed, there’s more than one way to play that is legitimately fun, and that shitty behavior amongst people is legitimately NOT fun. The Forge didn’t need to be the sole lever in that process, but certainly played a big part.

Spaces and Honesty

At the same point, I do feel there is no place which has taken up the space the Forge is leaving behind. (And with honesty, that gap has existed for several years now, especially with the brain drain at the Forge)

Not just in developing a critical community which is valuable for game design, but also in a space where people can trade info about publishing – costs, printers, warehouses, software, etc. – nitty gritty stuff, including their sales and what worked and why – which often is as big a pitfall as design concerns.

Part of that is that a critical community is a supportive space in which you can call out bullshit as well. The Forge was excellent in being a space where the usual veils for myths got stripped away – prestige, oft-repeated truisms, “common wisdom” that had no basis in reality, etc.

Unfortunately, without that, instead of an array of valid experiences and information to choose from, you end up with having to try to guess the real from the false, which is the most dangerous to the newest publishers who end up having to commit time or money and gamble on things like how much to publish, how to set up their business, etc.

This is also true about design and the ability to push the envelope or to fully discover your vision beyond the games you’re only familiar with.

The Forge had a good run, and it’ll be interesting to see if anyone else can actually learn the lessons about community management necessary to create that sort of critical work community again.

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