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GDW concerns

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jwarrend
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Guys,

I've been flying solo with the GDW for the last year, but I'd like to step back and ask your guys' opinion about the philosophical view behind the GDW.

I view the GDW as a "rulebook swap", ie, "I look at your rulebook, you look at mine." About a year ago (+/- 6 months), a couple of things happened. First, we went to one week sessions, increasing the amount of calendar space we needed to fill. And second, we had several people "blow off" their sessions, often by people who never returned to the site again after signing up.

The latter phenomenon really irked me, and prompted us to add a new rule, whereby to get a GDW slot, you had to post feedback on other games up front. However, this has morphed into something I'm not happy with.

My hope was always that people who sign up would be people who want to participate in the workshop long term; people who'd become part of the GDW community, and offer feedback on other's games simply because it's a fun thing to do and because at some point, your game will go up and you'll get feedback as well. However, some people appear to view the 2 week requirement as the only feedback they ever need provide. They'll post their obligitory 2 feedback posts, have their GDW session, and then disappear until they want another session.

Now, there are enough people who do post regular feedback that in some sense we can afford people "taking advantage" of us this way without it breaking the GDW. And, filling 50 slots a year is a tall order, so in some sense, we need to allow people like this to have slots if we're going to have a fully-dense schedule.

However, I don't like this kind of behavior, and I'm very interested to hear whether you guys feel that I'm right or wrong to find this annoying. And to make it specific, I had a guy who asked for a slot about 1 month ago. He had a GDW session a year ago, and hasn't posted a comment on another game since. I told him, "get back involved in giving feedback, and we'll see." He never responded, but has since posted feedback on -- you guessed it -- exactly 2 games. I can only assume he will ask me for his slot now that he's met the requirements. I sort of want to deny this request, but I want to know whether that would be reasonable or not.

In a sense, I think it's really just a reflection of human nature, that some people will just do the bare minimum required to get whatever it is that they happen to want. Honestly, I'd really rather such people just post their games in some other forum rather than "using" us in the GDW, but it's quite possible I'm taking the whole thing too seriously.

I welcome your thoughts!

Thanks,

Jeff

zaiga
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GDW concerns

Jeff,

I can certainly sympathize with your feelings about people "taking advantage" of the GDW. In a perfect world people would get involved with the whole BGDF community, giving just as much back to the community as the community has given to them. However, this perfect world doesn't exist. There will always be people who take more than they get.

I think there are two ways we can go with the GDW:

Option 1) Add more rules, make it harder to get a GDW slot, so that only people who have proven themselves as thrustworthy members get a GDW slot.

Problem with this approach is that it will be hard coming up with rules that don't create other unwanted problems. For example, say we add the rule that you need a minimum number of posts before you are allowed to have a GDW slot. This could have the side effect of people "spamming" the board with short comments, just to get to that minimum. In a sense, that is what's happening right now on the GDW forum.

Another possible problem with this option could be that the GDW becomes available only for the "regulars". It could give the impression of the BGDF being some kind of "clique". I think this is something we want to avoid.

Option 2) Drop all rules. Anyone with a user account can enter the GDW.

Disadvantages of this approach are that people could sign up for a GDW slot and then never show up again, or that they "take advantage" of the GDW slot and don't comment on other people's game and don't participate in the community in another way.

My personal feeling is to go with option #2, drop all rules. This lowers the treshold for people to sign up on the BGDF and get involved with the site. If, say, out of every three new members, two take advantage of their slot and never show up again afterwards, but the third new guy sticks around, then I think it is worth it.

Moreover, it's not that putting up a game on the GDW is free of effort. People have to invest some time in writing a clean rulebook, upload pictures, etc, and they expose themselves to criticism by putting their creation online.

It's not just that they only take something by putting their game online, they also give us some insight into their designs and ideas. Given how many people are afraid of even giving the slightest hint of to what their game looks like for fear of someone stealing their idea, I think putting a game online is something we shouldn't discourage.

sedjtroll
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Re: GDW concerns

jwarrend wrote:
I don't like this kind of behavior, and I'm very interested to hear whether you guys feel that I'm right or wrong to find this annoying.

You are absolutely within your right to find it annoying. However, I'm with Zaiga on this one... you can't eat your cake and have it too. If somehow everyone who exhibited the behavior you describe were to magically vanish, the GDW would suck ass, as it would be at worst devoid of material, or at best simply the same 4 people talking to each other.

I think the GDW as is is fine, and we have to accept that some people don't 'play by the rules'. It's important to note, as Zaiga also said, that we all get something out of a game being posted, not just the poster of the game.

As for dropping the 2 comment restriction- I'm for it and I'm against it. On the one hand, there are cases where people simply make the requisite 2 posts and then ask for a slot. On the other hand, it does encourage discussion on GDW entries and I think that's a good thing. We could qualify the requirement and say that the 2 requisite posts need to be "of substance" to sort of force people to really try and participate 'properly'.

So I'd be for leaving the GDW as it currently is. Let the guy in question have his slot. If he's not the type to give lots of feedback, then it's entirely possible we'll get more out of his posting than he does. Note that theoretically the problem can be self correcting- if I see a game by someone who hasn't been posting, perhaps I won't go through the trouble of critiquing it.

Quote:
In a sense, I think it's really just a reflection of human nature, that some people will just do the bare minimum required to get whatever it is that they happen to want. Honestly, I'd really rather such people just post their games in some other forum rather than "using" us in the GDW, but it's quite possible I'm taking the whole thing too seriously.

I agree about the human nature thing, and therefore I think you are in fact taking it too seriously. There are ideals, and then there is reality. I think at the moment the GDW is a great compromise between the two.

You'd be hard pressed to convince me that the GDW isn't 'working' as it is, don't you think?

- Seth

Scurra
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GDW concerns

I can see your concerns, and Seth and René articulate the counter-positions nicely.
FWIW, I'd advocate upping the "minimum GDW comments" requirement slightly (say, to 4 instead of 2) but then not worrying too much about how that commitment is reached. Some people will abuse it, but not nearly as many as we think may...

(speaking as an active - indeed, some might say "over-enthusiastic" ;-) - contributor to the GDW roster, I think it's working out fine. Then again, I'm not trying to administer it...

zaiga
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GDW concerns

Scurra wrote:
FWIW, I'd advocate upping the "minimum GDW comments" requirement slightly (say, to 4 instead of 2) but then not worrying too much about how that commitment is reached.

Perhaps we should ask for quality rather than quantity. So instead of saying "you need to have commented on at least 2 other entries", say something like "you need to have given significant feedback on, and gotten involved in a discussion about a GDW entry before". This is of course a bit vague, but that's the point, let the applicants themselves decide whether they think they have given significant feedback on another entry before. At least it would prevent someone entering two quick, thoughtless comments on other games and then asking for a slot.

phpbbadmin
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GDW concerns

zaiga wrote:
Scurra wrote:
FWIW, I'd advocate upping the "minimum GDW comments" requirement slightly (say, to 4 instead of 2) but then not worrying too much about how that commitment is reached.

Perhaps we should ask for quality rather than quantity. So instead of saying "you need to have commented on at least 2 other entries", say something like "you need to have given significant feedback on, and gotten involved in a discussion about a GDW entry before". This is of course a bit vague, but that's the point, let the applicants themselves decide whether they think they have given significant feedback on another entry before. At least it would prevent someone entering two quick, thoughtless comments on other games and then asking for a slot.

I'll offer a counter point, and say that the member requesting a GDW slot simply be a member 'in good standing'. I.E. they are active members in the community as a whole. This will eliminate fly by nighters and lurkers. For example, if Tom Vasal suddenly starting designing games and he requested a slot, I'd like to think he could have one, even without commenting on the GDW in the past. And take myself as another example: To be perfectly honest, I don't have the time to comment on every GDW game. And to that affect, I sometimes don't even have time to even read them. Now founder status aside, I'd like to think I would have a slot made available to me if I did want to showcase a game because of the other things I do for the community.

I'd also like to think that a previously active member would be given the same courtesy. Life situations don't allow everyone to stay active within the community forever. If a member has worked on a game for some time, then comes back and wants it in GDW, I would hope that they would be given a slot. I guess more or less it comes down to a case by case basis. If a member requests a slot and is not active, perhaps you can push them to the back of the line so to speak and then follow up with them a few weeks before they are due to be up. If they don't respond, simply give their spot to someone else. The waiting period will serve as a time to weed out those folks who aren't serious about their commitment, and possibly it will energize their involvement with the community. I.E. they may become more involved while they are waiting for their slot to come up.

Thoughts?
-Michael

sedjtroll
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GDW concerns

I'd like to reiterate that the '2 GDW ost' requirement, though artificial and arbitrary, sometimes sparks conversation in the thread when there isn't any otherwise, so in a way it can be good (though that's probably a minority). Ideally, there wouldn't be a need to jump start the conversations in the GDW, but as has been discussed, idealism isn't the same as reality.

- Seth

jwarrend
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GDW concerns

Guys,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts; it’s very important that the GDW’s philosophy reflect the opinion of whole admin staff, and you guys have helped me in that way. I agree, the GDW is definitely “working” just fine in the sense that the schedule is almost always full and the games almost always generate discussion. My main interest here was to find the best way to go about encouraging/requiring some people to recognize that there’s more to the GDW than just getting your game reviewed. A couple of responses to the suggestions made:

I like the idea of changing the requirement from “2 posts min” to “substantial feedback”, as it makes the approval process more discretionary, and hopefully will encourage people to be more aggressive in posting serious comments rather than “I like your game, bye”. It’s a change I may make. The bottom line is I’ve tried to be as clear as possible that, look, this thing is a two-way street, but for whatever reason, most new users don’t see past the “have your rulebook reviewed” aspect; they think it’s a service that we are providing to people. It’s irksome, but it’s also reality.

To Darke’s point: yes, all of the admins (ie, everyone who can read this) has a guaranteed slot any time you wish. For other “members in good standing”, I think it’s a case by case basis. In my opinion, Tom Vasel wouldn’t qualify for a slot currently, but that’s an unlikely case. A better indicator might be someone like Lee Valentine or Joe Huber, who have posted a lot on the site but haven’t participated in the GDW at all. Would I give those guys a slot? Again, my answer is, probably not without some feedback coming in. However, your other point is pretty much the way it works out in practice: usually there’s at least a month backlog when someone requests a slot, so I’ll commonly say “post feedback for the next few weeks and I’ll hold [this slot] for you in expectation that you will”, and it usually works out ok.

I also appreciate the viewpoint that people who put up their games are contributing something of value to the GDW: giving us games to talk about, and a level of transparency in viewing their games that many designers don’t ever give. That’s an excellent point.

Seth’s observation, that those who don’t comment probably won’t generate comments in return, is quite apt. I’m always very quick to seek to comment on games by GDW regulars, or people who have given me feedback, whereas I’ll tend not to post feedback for those who I feel are “scamming” the system. So there’s definitely a self-correcting aspect.

Thanks again for your helpful observations. I suspect I’ll probably marinate on the suggestions a bit more, and likely leave things as they are for the near future. But you’ve helped a lot in terms of how to view requests for slots.

Many thanks!

-J

Scurra
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GDW concerns

jwarrend wrote:
I suspect I’ll probably marinate on the suggestions a bit more,

Did you mean "ruminate"? I thought "marinate" meant to soak in a sauce? Or maybe you meant "masticate"? ;-)

(On a not wholly unrelated subject, did you see Tom Vasel's mini-interview with Bruno Faidutti? Bruno delivers the immortal line that designing a game on your own is rather like "brain masturbation" which was a rather graphic but entirely accurate description.)

zaiga
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GDW concerns

Scurra wrote:
(On a not wholly unrelated subject, did you see Tom Vasel's mini-interview with Bruno Faidutti? Bruno delivers the immortal line that designing a game on your own is rather like "brain masturbation" which was a rather graphic but entirely accurate description.)

It gets the job done, but it's not wholly satisfying?

jwarrend
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GDW concerns

Scurra wrote:

jwarrend wrote:
I suspect I’ll probably marinate on the suggestions a bit more,

Did you mean "ruminate"? I thought "marinate" meant to soak in a sauce? Or maybe you meant "masticate"? ;-)

I meant marinate, but the sentence was laid out wrong: it should have read "I'll let the suggestions marinate more". I mean it in a metaphorical sense, of course: to let the ideas kind of "soak in" for a while before using them. It's possible this is an American-ism, and possibly not even a very widespread one.

-Jeff

Scurra
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GDW concerns

zaiga wrote:
Scurra wrote:
(... designing a game on your own is rather like "brain masturbation" which was a rather graphic but entirely accurate description.)

It gets the job done, but it's not wholly satisfying?

Then you're not doing it right? :-)

Scurra
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GDW concerns

jwarrend wrote:
I meant marinate, but the sentence was laid out wrong: it should have read "I'll let the suggestions marinate more". I mean it in a metaphorical sense, of course: to let the ideas kind of "soak in" for a while before using them. It's possible this is an American-ism, and possibly not even a very widespread one.

Certainly your second version of that sentence makes more sense in the context of "marinate". (In passing I will note that I knew what "marinate" meant, but I hadn't encountered it used in this way before - it sounds slightly perjorative to me, but that's fairly typical with colloquialisms.)

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