The next issue of Suspense and Decision will be Issue # 14 Anticipated Publication Date: September 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

A PBM magazine's community of readership differs notably from a Play By Mail game's community of players.

Progress on Issue #14 of Suspense & Decision magazine continues. It should be arriving in your PBM-craving hands sometime later this month.

Hopefully, each one of you will take a moment out to send in some feedback on what you thought about Issue #13. Praise is good, but so is criticism. Both help to generate and to extend dialogue, which is something that the PBM industry and its communities of players could use more of.

Play by mail gaming, or PBM to those who may not already be familiar with the term, benefits from people engaging in dialogue and discussing in earnest and at length the games and the gaming experience. Silence is the real killer! Oh, sure, PBM players are always talking about the PBM games that they are playing in their respective circles, but the play by mail industry also needs a broader dialogue - one not comprised of just and only various game or game company communities talking between and among themselves.

That's one of the roles that a PBM magazine plays.

One of the things that I have learned over the span of time since I first began publishing Suspense & Decision magazine is that it is awfully hard to make much progress by drilling directly into the existing established communities of players for various specific PBM games or for the lineal descendants of PBM games. It's a lot like herding cats, or like trying to move those giant heads on Easter Island.

They're there, in those specific gathering points that typically take the form of a forum or a discussion group, and they're there to play the game or games that they love and enjoy. Their sense of unique community already exists. Trying to siphon it off or to redirect it is an inherently problematic proposition. It may sound odd, if you're a fan of Suspense & Decision magazine, but the actual community for PBM magazines varies enormously from the communities for specific PBM games.

Thus, growing the magazine's community of readership and participants is its own unique recipe. Oh, sure, some players of various existing PBM or lineal descendant games will be attracted to Suspense & Decision, since it deals with the topic of PBM gaming, but many - perhaps even most - likely won't be. That's my take on it, anyway, for whatever it may be worth, if anything.

The realization of such does not spark despair. It's not a game killer, pardon the pun. What it does is to remove an anchor from around my neck - an anchor of effort that would otherwise go wasted. It also helps to provide greater clarity to the magazine's true sense of purpose.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The image that accompanies this blog posting is a mini-ad created by Davin Church of Talisman Games. Davin wanted me to scatter this one and others similar to it in the pages of various issues of Suspense & Decision magazine. It struck me as a good fit for something to include in a blog posting, also, though. Talisman Games runs Galac-Tac, a single unit level, science fiction war game.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

PBM Report Cards

One of the concepts that I am going to try and introduce in the coming weeks, via Suspense & Decision magazine, is that of PBM Report Cards.

My son is back in school, in the aftermath of his summer vacation coming to an end (Boo! Hiss! Boss!), and if he has to be subject to the frenzied feeling of being downsized to a report card, then I figure that's what is good for his goose might just be equally good for our gander.

The issue of whether ours can be a collective gander at all or not aside, I've pondered various different things over the past many months, as far as coming up with some mechanism to try and instill some kind of rating methodology into the modern era of play by mail gaming.

There will be report cards for the magazine, Suspense & Decision, and for PBM companies and for the lineal descendants of PBM companies and gaming moderators. On the one hand, it's all an exercise in comparing apples and oranges, anyway, while on the other hand, I really do feel as though having some kind of rating methodology in place could yet prove to be a boon to the PBM industry.

Having PBM report cards will enable the PBM industry to have a common scale, even if the grading process used by various individuals proves to be a rather subjective experience. I'll probably try to implement something in the coming weeks, and then we can possibly refine the PBM report cards, going forward.

Like everything else, we'll have to just try and iron the kinks out of it as we go.

So, what do you think?