Thursday, October 27, 2016

Infogalactic and the Culture War

Though my day-to-day gaming centers around World of Warcraft, my heart lies with tabletop RPGs. As a business, such RPGs are notorious for being terrible all around due to the very nature of the product and how it is used. You need to buy it only once, and you can enjoy thousands of hours of entertainment with as many friends as you can manage (provided that you're willing and able to make up your own content, which better RPGs make easy to do). Therefore, publishers have a financial incentive to lobotomize this genre in order to induce the dependencies that provide ongoing revenue in other RPG media: officialdom, canon compliance, and a focus on exploiting the rules over playing the world.

One way this gets monetized is by the cultivation and deliberate growth of an official setting, complete with lore. It pads product page counts with stuff that only those who read more than play (and like it that way), those putting together a setting bible for a shared universe line of sanctioned fiction, or those running some form of officially sanctioned Organized Play campaign care about. In short, they do what Wikis do better and cheaper.

So, I began arguing a few years ago that such publishers would be wise to cut their publishing costs by setting up and managing their own lore wikis instead of letting someone else do it for them. (I pointed out that Wookiepedia was a better Star Wars lore archive than anything else, including the official stuff, as an example.) All of that useless lore crap would be cut from their products, making them cheaper (and thus easier for people to buy), while the lorehounds would get their fix online- and once more a proper division of labor would make for healthier fan scenes as well as businesses.

Of course this got poo-pooed, with the chief objection being that anyone could write or edit; I pointed out, correctly, that such permissions could be locked down and only those vetted and confirmed to support an editorial mandate could be so permitted. Again, more naysaying. Well, I had no worries about proving them wrong; if I didn't come up with a Proof of Concept, someone else would.

Enter Vox Day, the Supreme Dark Lord, and Infogalactic. This is a Big Fork project, meant to surpass and replace Wikipedia due to the latter being fully-converged by the Social Justice death cult, and one of its key features is that it controls who gets editing and writing permissions. In short, Infogalactic is, at its base, the sort of wiki I argued for and therefore is a successful Proof of Concept.

Look, there's a need for Big Forks of many things, a need brought about because of the aforementioned cult and their obsessive compulsion to control the information that people receive in order to mind control people into compliance with their dogma. There is ALSO a need for smaller forks, or forks that focus on different things, and that is what I'm aiming at here: forking the business model of the traditional tabletop RPG away from being focused wholly on physical products.

This is, unfortunately, also part of the wider Culture War. The big TRPG publishers, and the established ebook retailers for TRPGs, are fully converged by said death cult. Furthermore, the few who remain aren't necessarily any better in terms of technology savvy or business savvy and thus fall into the same trap by default. Only by forking away from a dead-end model can this be saved. Changing the business model of a TRPG is one thing that needs doing; another is forking the distribution of TRPGs, physical and digital, away from outlets SJWs control towards free from their censorship and manipulation and towards honest alternatives committed to upholding freedom of merchants and customers to do business as they desire.

Infogalactic's example, replicated on the smaller scope and scale of a wiki dedicated to a setting and its lore, needs to become the norm for TRPGs; this requires far less hassle than coming up with a storefront/marketplace alternative. (Though, in the short term, you really are better off publishing through Amazon. If Basic Fantasy can do it, you can too, so sack up and get out of RPGNow; hell, Basic Fantasy's model is just where TRPGs really ought to be for most people.) Dump the useless lore from your products; that's what the wiki is for. You can also dump your rules on a Wiki; playable content is where the money is, so sell that and give away the rest.

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