#RPG – Interviewed at Supernerdland

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You can read my interview at Supernerdland HERE.

If you want me for a podcast, stream, guest blog/vlog or written interview just let me know.

#RPG – Gorean RPG News!

Michael is back to work at a good ol’ pace, I’ve signed up a (fourth) artist to do the necessary cartography and they’ve undertaken to get that work finished by the end of the month.

I cannot apologise enough for the delays and I hope you can continue to be patient a little while longer.

Meanwhile, here’s some sketches to appease you :)

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See? It's not ALL male-dom.

See? It’s not ALL male-dom.

#RPG Cartographer Needed

Having been let down several times now and with time a genuine pressure, I need to commission a map for the Gor RPG.

There are many existing online maps, such as this one, or this one.

The general terrain, locations and overall geography of the world is reasonably well established but contacting existing artists responsible for the better maps has not yielded any results and three separate people commissioned to do the work have had to pull out or have not undertaken the work or made any progress.

As such I need to try again as the final artwork is coming in, to get a map ready for the final publication.

Ideally I should like to have a map that recreates the tiled-floor of Samos of Port Kar (either in squares or a more RPG traditional hex-grid, with major settlements picked out by gemstones set into the tiles. This would be done with a Roman/Greek style to the iconography/map legend, making it somewhat colour/abstract based (ideally it will work in colour OR black and white).

Alternatively time/money requiring, a standard B&W map along normal fantasy map lines will suffice.

Please contact at grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk marked [Gor Map] and include a link to previous work and your rates for:

300-600dpi

A4 B&W hex/grid map.
A4 B&W standard map.
A4 colour hex/grid map.
A4 colour standard map.
Both.

Thanks.

Popular Ludology: Clarifying the Peer Review System

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I seem to have not expressed the peer review process we’ll be using well enough as some people seem to not understand. This must be my fault so I’ll clarify with reference to the previous post, and I’ll tighten up the language more later on for reference.

When you submit a paper it will be examined by the editorial staff and those who have previously submitted and had their papers accepted. It will be accepted or rejected on the basis of a simple majority (with 50% being a pass). Either way you should be informed.

This is not part of the review process. You could call this a simple ‘smell test’. Does this paper look/sound/smell like bullshit? Do the person’s credentials check out? The vote should only be necessary if there’s any strong objections to a particular process. This is not really any different to a single paragraph dissertation, written in crayon on toilet paper being rejected. Just more formalised.

If your paper is accepted you will be invited to the Popular Ludology email group. You do not have to accept and participation is not mandatory, but it will allow you to participate further as the journal and effort – hopefully – expand.

This group will form a democratic/meritocratic basis for organisational/journal level change in the future. That is its primary aim, to provide a pool of qualified people to vote on procedure etc.

A month will be given for papers to be accepted.

And please do submit. While the ‘theme’ for issue zero is defining and classifying games, any submissions on any game related topic are welcome. I’ve seen and read some interesting things from less conventional scholars and developers over the last ten months and would love to see some of their work more formally published.

At the end of that period the accepted papers will be collated and published in an ‘alpha draft’.

This is the point at which the actual review process starts.

This alpha draft will be made available publicly to anyone and everyone for open review, criticism and objection.

This is the peer review part.

We’re going with an open peer review for several reasons.

  1. It encourages participation.
  2. It encourages non-academic participation.
  3. It reflects a commitment to openness.
  4. There are many existing criticisms of the blind review process (not least that in the digital age it’s hard to keep).
  5. It’s potentially much, much more rigorous.
  6. It allows the authors to directly participate in the process and with their critics.

You should monitor this feedback and, as you feel may be necessary, make changes, clarifications and extensions to your paper over the following month.

Hopefully writers of papers will examine the feedback that they get and make amendments and improvements accordingly.

The final version of the journal (with any amendments, additions, retractions etc from review) will then be published. Papers may only be forcibly withdrawn against your will if 75% or more of the editorial and previously published authors agree in a vote.

This is where, I think, the confusion arises. This is intended more to be a meta-review process. Examining the criticism and seeing whether it is valid and then acting as a qualified group to remove papers that do not hold up, if the author cannot or will not do so themselves.

Voting procedures will be made public in the journal itself.

It should also be noted that we are aiming for a more rigorous scrutiny than currently exists within organisations like DiGRA, and which appears to have let through many papers and presentations that do not seem to hold up to basic standards. It’s also well established, but denied, that there is a great deal of hostility towards the concept of peer review in some of these groups and that what passes for peer review in the humanities is not at all what most people consider that term or procedure to mean.

I’m sure there’ll be lumps and bumps along the way and that idealism will have to give way to pragmatism at various points, but there’s no harm in aiming high from the start.

A great number of objections received so far seem to be based around the idea that this will be rejected by the existing academic structure or that it needs to be changed to be more in line with existing journals and organisations. Given that a central premise behind the setting up of this journal and in seeing a need for it is that there are severe problems with game studies and game studies groups and structures it would seem to be counter-productive to replicate those same issues for unneeded approval, while trying to fix their problems.

The aim here is not to replicate the efforts of DiGRA etc, but to do something different and useful and while I’m sure material good enough for academia will be produced, their approval is not especially wanted. As a pragmatic and practical resource, developer and designer approval and interest is much, much more important.

#RPG – PROJECT Hardcopy AVAILABLE!

You can grab yours here, or via your localised Lulu store.

BUY PROJECT HERE

PROJECT is a role-playing game about heroic guardians of reality. After a terrible, supernatural disaster the world has been rent asunder and strange things have begun to bleed in all around the edges. Humanity has recovered to an extent and continues to fight these beings and forces from beyond known as ‘Entities’.

The group PROJECT is at the forefront of humanity’s defence, using the strange technologies and abilities of the Entities against them and reasserting reality one bloody fight at a time. In the game you will take the role of one of the heroic agents of PROJECT, modified through barely understood technology and thrown against the strange and deadly beings and events that press in on the Earth from its neighbouring dimensions and parallels.

In the process you may begin to discover things that you wish you didn’t know and that the battle for reality is not as black and white as you have been indoctrinated to think.

Popular Ludology No.0 – Call for Submissions

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Popular Ludology is now accepting submissions of papers for an issue ‘zero’ to test the waters and ensure that there’s sufficient interest to continue with the effort. Provided you have direct experience of game design and publication in a commercial sense (even Indie) or have academic/scientific qualifications you can submit a  paper (see below).

The theme for the first issue is: “Defining & classifying games,” though you do not have to submit on that theme, it would be preferred.

More information is below.

Submit to grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk with [PopLud] in the title.

Submissions for issue zero are open until JULY 31st 2015

Popular Ludology

POPULAR: [ATTRIBUTIVE] (Of cultural activities or products) intended for or suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.

LUDOLOGY: The study of games and gaming, especially video games.

Popular Ludology is an attempt to set up a new Ludology/Game Studies journal with a focus on positive, practical measures to understand and improve games, as games. Existing Ludology/Game Studies groups and journals tend to fixate on literary and critical theory and, as such, provide little or nothing of use from a game design or scientific perspective.

We want Popular Ludology to be an accessible, readable, useful, genuinely academic, scientific and practical resource for game developers and engaged game fans to understand and improve the medium as an effective tool for enjoyment and storytelling.

Submissions

You should fit into one of two categories to submit a paper.

  • Category 1: You have practical experience of game design and publication and have successfully, commercially, published at least one game.
  • Category 2: You are an academic or scientist with a degree or higher educational attainment.

Popular Ludology is not limited to video games. If you have research or practical experience relating to tabletop RPGs, board games, card games or other such recreational games of similar ilk (excluding gambling) you are welcome, indeed encouraged, to submit.

You should be able to provide evidence of your qualifications or publication history. If you wish to submit anonymously you must satisfy the editor of your bona-fides.

Papers may be of any length but try to keep the total file-size reasonably low (<5mb).

Popular Ludology strives for openness and readability. Try – so much as is possible – to avoid jargon and keep to an accessible reading level (Grade 12, High School).

Papers should include a short 1-2 paragraph summary at the beginning.

Papers should be submitted in RTF format if at all possible, otherwise DOC (but not DOCX) is also acceptable. This requirement is to ensure more transferable formatting.

Papers should be submitted in point-size 10 font, with titles of sections and subsections in bold descending in point-size (20/14/12/10) as necessary to show sections and subsections.

Tables, images and other such visual data should be submitted as attachments separately to the document,rather than embedded in the document.

Papers should fit into one of two categories.

  • Category 1: The relation of direct practical experience (these are the papers to be accepted from game designers). These will not be held to such a high standard but their worth is in the transfer of experience. Claims and ideas presented in these are to be considered for future examination.
  • Category 2: Academic and scientific studies or the relating of such information to the audience. Include proper citations, avoid speculation and bias. Avoid foregone conclusions. Stick to the facts and the relation of those facts or relay how you discovered facts. Minimise opinion. Original research is greatly encouraged.

The Process

When you submit a paper it will be examined by the editorial staff and those who have previously submitted and had their papers accepted. It will be accepted or rejected on the basis of a simple majority (with 50% being a pass). Either way you should be informed.

If your paper is accepted you will be invited to the Popular Ludology email group. You do not have to accept and participation is not mandatory, but it will allow you to participate further as the journal and effort – hopefully – expand.

A month will be given for papers to be accepted.

At the end of that period the accepted papers will be collated and published in an ‘alpha draft’.

This alpha draft will be made available publicly to anyone and everyone for open review, criticism and objection.

You should monitor this feedback and, as you feel may be necessary, make changes, clarifications and extensions to your paper over the following month.

The final version of the journal (with any amendments, additions, retractions etc from review) will then be published. Papers may only be forcibly withdrawn against your will if 75% or more of the editorial and previously published authors agree in a vote.

Voting procedures will be made public in the journal itself.

Organisation

Popular Ludology’s founding principles can be summed up thusly:

  • Hard science, hard data.
  • Usefulness.
  • Openness.
  • Experience.

The existing procedures have already come under some fire, and the use of Ludology as a term has been both questioned and supported. In order to get the project going I feel it necessary to be somewhat dictatorial, but I should also explain why I have made the decisions that I have.

Firstly, yes, this publication is motivated by Gamergate and in response to groups such as DiGRA. Throughout the year-or-so that Gamergate has been ongoing I and many other gaming fans, publishers, developers academics and scientists have been shocked and appalled to discover the poor state of academia and the existing structures when it comes to studying games. Many of us have lamented, nearly from the start, that a better alternative is needed. One wing of that effort looks like it will focus around League for Gamers becoming more supportive of academic and scientific efforts and it is my hope that PopLud will become another wing of that. However, I hope it will become more than simply a response to the problems we see and the aim is to create a genuinely useful resource, which is more than simply a reaction. People who do publish in or for what we consider to be ‘bad’ journals and organisations are welcome to submit, their papers will be considered on merit.

Secondly, the decision was made to allow papers from non-academics for several reasons. I have no academic qualifications myself, nor have many of the critics of the existing structures, but our criticisms and reviews have highlighted many serious problems and deserve to be taken seriously. This has underlined existing issues with ‘echo chambers’ in these sorts of fields of study (and the fields from which participation sometimes comes) and has, in my opinion, demonstrated a need to break that circle. Designers have useful, experience which people can relate to. They may not be able to tell you precisely why something has worked, but they can show it has worked and relate things like marketing data and studies from their experience which is useful both to researchers and other designers.

The decision to go with an open process relates to this. We want the journal to be accessible and useful and to avoid the aforementioned echo chamber. It is worth entering a note of caution however, in that this open process superficially resembles that of the ADA journal and the ‘fembot collective’, and has singularly failed to solve those issues in that case. Given that ADA has an explicit bias in its research goals and philosophy and we do not, hopefully this approach can work in this instance. Researchers need to understand their audience and their subject, something which the span of Gamergate has shown, in abundance, that they currently do not.

The decision to stick with ‘Ludology’ was not one which I personally supported. In my opinion the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ have become tainted. They do not, primarily, seem to be about games at all, rather a great deal of effort seems to be put into lit/crit theory, gender studies and opinion pieces about representation, race etc with little or no statistical or scientific backing. The consensus amongst interested parties appears to be that the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ are worth fighting for and that the more genuine and useful research attached to the name the better. So I bow to that consensus.

The Future

If this enterprise is successful, I intend to bow out of the editorship by Issue 3 and to hand off to a new, elected editor from applicants, voted for by those who have participated. Editorship terms should, in my opinion, run for a year or so or be removed by a 75% vote of no confidence. New editors should be approved by a 50% or more vote (from those participating). Again, all in my opinion but these are things that remain to be thrashed out.

If you have any questions, queries or worries please address them to the comments, or to the email address provided earlier.

#RPG PROJECT: Golem RELEASED!

You can get the PDF HERE

An expansion booklet and specialist character sheet for the Golem character type.

This booklet contains information on how Golem candidates are chosen, the process by which they become Golems and expands on their modifications, weapons, equipment, advantages and disadvantages.

It also contains general information on the world of PROJECT, focussing on the social dynamics of rich versus poor in a world of magic, psionics and corporate superheroics.