PlayByMail.Net is a PBM oriented website, whose aim is to promote play by mail gaming and to give PBM gamers a place to gather. From this website has evolved the PBM Wiki, a blog, and Suspense & Decision magazine, a PBM magazine for the 21st Century. The site contains both a discussion forum and a blog. The site seeks to facilitate PBM gaming by serving as a major modern resource for play by mail.
Issue # 5 of Suspense & Decision magazine is starting to take form, and I have compiled a total of twenty-one pages, thus far. This is great news, from my perspective, since what I was looking at previously was a dearth of articles and ads.
I still have a few more articles to compile, and while I haven't counted how many pages they will form, collectively, I'm fairly certain that we won't approach the size of Issue # 4.
But, that's OK.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting Issue # 4 to grow as big as it finally grew to be. But, it was nice to be able to put out an issue that was 100+ pages. It's like a milestone, of sorts, to me, for such a young publication to be able to reach such a milestone in such a relatively short amount of time. Only four issues into a run, and BAM! Just like that, we hit - and exceeded - that milestone. I'm humbled by the amount of support that makes an achievement of that degree possible.
For me, personally, twenty pages is the bare minimum number of pages that I want to go with, when publishing an issue. Ideally, I would like to see each issue of Suspense & Decision magazine be flushed out with at least forty to fifty pages of articles and ads. Anything less than that, and we come in a bit on the lean side, I think. And what PBM needs, right now, is MORE meat on the bones, not less! Anything more than fifty pages, that's just icing on the cake, as far as I am concerned.
If push comes to shove, I feel pretty confident that I could sit down and write twenty pages of PBM-related material for a given issue - for each and every issue, if the need to do so manifested itself. While I'm sure than no one wants that (especially Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo), from my perspective, play by mail gaming has such a long and rich history, that there's virtually no end to what all that one could talk about or say about either the PBM industry or PBM gaming. And I will go out on a limb here, and say that I really do think that I'm probably not alone in feeling that way.
But, just as you guys and gals (and any space aliens that might be reading this) probably don't want to read a magazine where there's nothing in it but what I have to say, likewise, that's not the kind of magazine that I want to publish, either, where Suspense & Decision is concerned.
And to accomplish what we all want requires the participation of others. It needs the participation of YOU - but, not just you.
So far, we seem to have enough participation to keep the wheels turning, and by doing so, the magazine is becoming more widely known. Granted, huge numbers of new players are not pouring into PBM, right now, but even a slight trickle of players, whether new to PBM or people returning to a type of gaming that is a past love for them, is better than nothing at all.
Unless PBM moderators inform me of such, or unless I find out about it on my own through other channels, then I really have no idea which PBM companies or which PBM game moderators are seeing any uptick in their respective player bases for their various games. But, between the magazine and the PlayByMail.Net website and the PBM Wiki, I know that at least several PBM companies have gained at least one new or returning player.
That's not a lot, you say. Granted. Conceded. I fully admit, it's not a lot. But, unless PBM companies or PBM moderators release figures voluntarily, we remain relegated to what ultimately amounts to guesswork.
In the old days, PBM companies would frequently mention how many people were playing their games. Simultaneously, it was both a point of pride, and the laying of claim to bragging rights.
These days, PBM companies sometimes still mention how many people are playing their games, but the bigger the numbers claimed, the more likely it seems to me that it would be to find some trace of the players communicating online about those very same games. As one who actively looks for signs of life in PBM across the Internet, from my vantage point, the math on the player numbers doesn't always add up.
People who have fun in PBM games have a tendency to talk about them. PBM games that are being talked about, I have a tendency to find the evidence thereof.
Suspense & Decision magazine doesn't really have subscribers, per se. Rather, the way that it works is that we release an issue by publishing it, and then anyone who wants to download it or to share it is free to do so. Granted, there are download numbers available to me, either in terms of complete downloads or in terms of partial downloads, but I have no way of knowing who is actually downloading a given issue, or whether a given download is a first time download or a re-download of the same issue.
Ultimately, it really doesn't matter what the actual download numbers for Suspense & Decision are. What matters is whether people are enjoying it, and whether it is attracting anyone, at all, to the hobby of play by mail gaming.
If you encounter the magazine, and you find Suspense & Decision to be enjoyable reading, by all means, be sure to share your feelings about the magazine with us.
And, too, if you just plain don't like it, then feel free to share those comments about it with us, also.
Praise, alone, won't save play by mail gaming, and criticism, alone, won't destroy it. PBM has proven itself to be quite resilient. It has demonstrated that it is capable of enduring in the face of an overwhelming amount of change - namely, the Internet.
What postal gaming could benefit from, anytime, is more dialogue. More discussion. More people talking about it, no matter what the particulars are of what they have to say.
So, if you get a chance, feel free to drop in on the PlayByMail.Net forum, and start discussing the PBM genre of gaming. Don't be afraid to get all nostalgic on us, either. There are many who would gravitate towards that very same nostalgia that you might be holding in.
Let it out! Talk up a storm! Be a voice for play by mail!