Gaming Industry Myths from Andrew Peregrine

My friend Andrew Peregrine from Cubicle 7 wrote a rant about what working in the gaming industry is really like, and I feel it’s definitely worth your time to read it.

The truth is, the same can be true of any creative industry. Fans (I include myself in this category even though I’m also a professional.) feel emotionally invested in what they love and claim to know. There isn’t anything wrong about this mentality persay, but it can get pretty frustrating when negative accusations or outrageous claims start flying around.

“I’ve been a gamer for 20 years so I know the business”
I’m sorry to tell you this but I’m afraid that’s bull. The first thing I learnt (after 20 years of gaming) when I started writing was that I knew nothing about the industry. That’s right, nothing, nada, zip. Having got your fighter to 20th level teaches you nothing about publishing, deadlines, distribution and commissioning. — Andrew Peregrine on LiveJournal

Anyway, give My Top 5 Myths About The Gaming Industry a read when you have the chance.

    Mood: The Bliss of Silence
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Um… *looks away*
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Housework
    Yesterday’s Projects: Game, Editing, Fiction
    In My Ears: To: Season 1, Ep. 2
    Game Last Played: Battle Nations (I HAZ A BATTLE RAPTOR ZOMG!)
    Movie Last Viewed: To: Season 1, Ep. 1
    Book Last Read: Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebooks
    Latest Artistic Project: A sewing disaster.
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

There is No Such Thing as a Fake Geek

Dear Readers:

I am writing this today in response to the latest kerfluffle online regarding the post that debuted on Forbes about fake geek girls. The last time I read an article like this, the subject matter was inflammatory on purpose because the writer got paid per page view and it was “good marketing.” In the effort of full disclosure, I have no idea whether or not that’s the case here. I just know that this post is generating a lot of discussion right now and, given what Speak Out is all about, I felt I needed to chime in here.

When I launched Speak Out with your Geek Out last Fall, I did receive some vocal negativity regarding the fact that I did not (and still do not) ever want to define what a “geek” is. The reason why I didn’t want to do that, is because this word is a bucket. People will self-identify with a label either when it’s comfortable for them or when someone else has taught them that they are associated with it.

The word “geek” has carried negative connotations for some time because what it does is call out someone who is passionate about “X.” It’s that passion, not necessarily the topic that person cares oh-so-much about, that causes these people to be bullied incessantly. As human beings, we have a problem dealing with those who share excessive amounts of emotion. Part of it stems from our different cultural expectations; it also originates from a sheer and utter lack of empathy.

Conventional wisdom says that to be cool and accepted by someone else’s ideals, it’s better to be casual and aloof. The funny thing is, the most successful people I know are exactly the opposite. They are happy with who they are, they’re free from worry, and they pursue their dreams with passion, grace, and dignity.

Now that the emotional weight of the word “geek” has changed somewhat in our society, more than a few folks are upset by that. Why? Well, before geek had any positive connotations, it allowed some folks to feel more like individuals because their way of life wasn’t as commonplace. Now that it’s mainstream or popular, I’m guessing some folks don’t feel like the underdog anymore. Regardless of what the truth is there, I feel this entire notion is incredibly sad and stupid. The only person that has the power to threaten your individuality is you.

Still, I do not consider myself to be a human being who has the right to tell someone else how they should feel about themselves. Who the eff am I to tell someone whether they are or aren’t a geek? In my mind, defining who can and can’t join this party is its own form of being a bully.

The minute you impose your views on someone else you stray into that territory because you are asserting yourself in a position of power. You are saying that your world viewpoint is better or more superior to someone else’s. It doesn’t matter how many people agree with what a “geek” is, there will always be that one person who feels they are one and outcast as a result. The same, sadly, can be said of any word that we use to label one another as a way of dividing, rather than uniting, us.

It is for that person, that single nameless individual, regardless of who they are, what they do, or where they came from, that I will continue Speak Out with your Geek Out this fall the exact same way I did last year.

I sincerely hope no one will wait until September to say a kind word or do a good deed until then. There may be seven billion people on this planet, but the only people we will ever truly have is each other, provided we take the time to listen and speak.

All my best,

Monica Valentinelli

Founder of Speak Out With Your Geek Out

How To Go Offline (And Not Kill Your Site)

Spike and Giles... Together at Last

Today’s how to post is brought to you by the makers of… Well, let’s see. What did I make recently? I had a novella published earlier this week called Redwing’s Gambit. Hrmmm…

Anyhoo, I recently had a question about how I updated my site during my 100 Days of No Social Media. Here’s the steps I took before I went underground.

1. Announce You’re Taking a Break – I tried to go offline many times and I received angry and distressed e-mails from people wondering where I was and if anything was wrong. Not to mention, there are people who don’t use e-mail to communicate anymore and rely solely on Facebook messaging or Twitter. If you’re online a lot, for whatever reason (in my case day-and-night job), then I recommend figuring out some way to make your online friends, customers, readers, etc. aware. Once you have something posted, then you’ve done your due diligence. Some folks were still upset, but I guess there’s nothing to be done about that.

2. Update Your Own Site – One of the things that I did, was focus on blogging instead of micro-blogging (e.g. shooting quick updates). This technique slowed me down considerably and helped me focus on what I was doing (big picture) rather than what I was saying (second-to-second). To do that, I wrote a bunch of posts beforehand and scheduled them to run on certain days. Other posts, like the ones where I talked about how the 100 Days was going, I penned on that day.

3. Distribute the Content – I double-checked my RSS feeds to make sure they were working. I use Feedburner for that. Then, I made sure my Twitter account was feeding into Facebook. At this point, you may be asking yourself if I cheated. I don’t think so. There are a number of people who don’t visit my site directly and read the articles only when they post through these sites. You can see this for yourself if you go to your analytics and check out the social media referrers. A tool has many uses. Some people use Twitter but never post. (Seriously.) Others interact. I felt that my data justified auto-posting blog titles on these networks even though I wasn’t monitoring them. One of the tools that’ll allow you to splice and re-purpose RSS feeds is called TwitterFeed. I had a lot of good luck with this and didn’t have any issues during my time off.

4. Don’t Check Your Analytics – Checking any sort of web traffic measurement during this time will send you into a tailspin because you’ll wonder what you’re not doing on social media. Stop. Seriously. Just stop. The whole point of this exercise is to help you re-prioritize and focus on what matters. If you’re constantly checking who’s coming to your site, then you’ll never break free of the cycle.

5. Know What Projects You Want to Complete – Complaining about you don’t have time to do “X”? Do it! Sit down, map out your time, and take the opportunity to do those things you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t during your time offline. This will be its own reward because you’re making it a point to do something for yourself.

What to Expect? Know Your Data, First

Now, I will say that every site is different. Your site could have a negative impact if you’re solely relying on your interactions to get traffic. It’s possible that you’re working your arse off to get those extra visits every month and you don’t realize how many hours you’ve spent to get those viewers.

How much is one visit worth? Well, before you can understand that, there needs to be another piece to this puzzle. In online retail, we call this conversion and it’s what store owners and valued marketers hang their hat on. If you’re not worried about conversion, then you won’t be able to figure out what value you’re getting out of what you’re doing, unless you’re solely focused on “branding.” (e.g. internet fame) But even that’s a Catch 22 for authors because it’s the stories people read. You could be the crappiest biggest a-hole on the face of the planet that no one liked and still write a good story that people will gladly sell their first child to get.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is… Please, for the love of data and all things sanity-related — don’t buy into the hype unless you can see trusted metrics to back up people’s claims! Facebook “likes” are not a good metric! You don’t even have to “like” a page to get their updates anymore, either, and you’re still at the mercy of whatever that platform does.

Analytics are crucial to any marketer just like a shareholder’s report is key for any investor. Don’t ignore good data and you’ll wind up making better decisions for yourself and your work.

Quality over Quantity

You can drive all the visits to your site or your fan pages that you want, but in the end you have to know what you want to get out of it. You got 10,000 visits on that one article! Joy! Bliss! Great! Then what? Seriously. What’s the effing point? So what if they read your review of some author’s book. Are they picking up yours? No? Gee, I wonder why.

To get qualified traffic, you also have to have relevancy. Ever read an article and get pissed off because the content didn’t match the headline? That happens for two reasons. First, the writer gets paid per visit so they want controversy. Or second, because the site gets paid by advertising revenue for eyeballs on the page. For authors, though, this model doesn’t work. You could have incidental sales or accidental traffic from something else you’re doing, but unless you’re focused on your work, talking about doughnuts every day won’t help you promote awareness of your post-apocalyptic tale.

The secret to the web is not the volume of readers, but the quality therein. Although there’s a lot of emphasis being placed on high traffic, folks have to dig deeper into analytics to understand what’s really going on. I know it feels a lot of the time like there’s this popularity contest online (and there is) but that’s not as important as why you’re online in the first place.

You have to decide what you want out of your online presence; no one else can do that for you. Not your friend, not some marketroid trying to sell their self-help book, not your publisher or your agent or your editor. If you’ve analyzed the data and you firmly believe that going offline is too big of a risk? Then don’t do it. However, I will say that you’d be surprised how crucial it is to place your primary energies into your work. If you are not firmly grounded with what you’re trying to do, then no amount of promotion will fix a lack of product, regardless of what that “product” may be. You can sell yourself, but for creative professionals, the work is what you’re guaranteed to make money on. Even if you get gigs based on who you are, eventually you’ll have to deliver.

1,000 True Fans

For a real-time example of how popularity doesn’t mean as much as you think it does, look at Kickstarter and how authors are raising money to write novels using that platform. Don’t look at the dollar signs; take a peek at the number of contributors. In many cases, thousands of dollars are raised by a couple hundred people. That, right there, is exactly how the web works and I’ve seen that same thing happen through data on dozens of sites. It’s part of the 1,000 true fans ideology. It is said, and rightly so, that authors who have 1,000 true fans will be able to make a decent living provided they know how to leverage that audience. Or, in other words, if a true fan devotes $100 per year to your work, and you have 1,000 of them, then you’ll make $100,000 a year. The same is true for businesses who encourage loyal customers, too.

If you look at the average contribution for The Order of the Stick reprint drive, which attracted over 14,000 contributors, you’ll also see this in action. Even though the Kickstarter raised $1.25 million dollars, the average contribution was $83. Yes, there were levels and some contributed more than others, but the point I’m trying to make is that what you want are people who are devoted to your work. Order of the Stick built in levels well above $100 for fans who were willing to pay more, but in the end it all averaged out. The Far West Kickstarter had 717 contributors and raised over $43K for an average of? Sixty-eight dollars. In some cases, like the Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer Kickstarter, you’ll see the contributors jump. 3,873 for over $130K. Here again, it comes down to data. Check out the levels. When it starts at a dollar, you can pretty much guarantee that the bulk of your contributors will lurk about there. The average shows this, too. $34 per person, but having more contributors means that more people will see the end result.

Here’s another example. Many authors who are leaving publishing houses to self-publish will often discuss how they’re selling less copies of books, but they’re making more money. This is why, because their true fans followed them from traditional publishing and the math worked out in their favor. If self-publishing didn’t allow authors to make more per copy, and they didn’t already have a number of fans that would buy from them there, then not as many would be using those tools.

What Works, May Only Work For You

Now, am I saying publishers are the debbil and self-publishing is the answer? ABSOLUTELY NOT. To each their own! At the end of the day, publishers want the same thing you do, to put out a quality product and create fans willing to buy your next book. There are publishers who have tools at their disposal to support authors and help you get readers. It’s not a best or worst-case scenario; it’s whatever works for you at this precise moment in your career. For authors, it doesn’t come down to how many people think you’re cool. It always boils down to how many readers are willing to pay for your books.

Regardless of what you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck with your words and your own future. It’s your destiny as a creator. Own it. Shape it. Do it. Be happy.

    Mood: Kind of weird, actually. Aristotle with a side of Shakespeare.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Two with ginseng.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Short walk
    Yesterday’s Projects: Game, Editing, Fiction
    In My Ears: Rest in Peace from the Buffy the Vampire: Once More with Feeling soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Battle Nations
    Movie Last Viewed: Um… Crap… What was it again?
    Book Last Read: [Redacted.]
    Latest Artistic Project: Paint! Thar has been painting. Thar may be cross-stitching?
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

A Gamer’s Non-Violent Lament

Shiva Final Fantasy X Avatar

So, I find it odd that our U.S. legislators would want to put a warning label on “E for Everyone” games that clearly states: WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.

Let me show you a picture.

Huh. So Super Mario Brothers will lead to aggressive behavior. Which means that my brother and I, who played Super Mario Brothers growing up must be violent thugs who wound up in prison. And not, say… happy and healthy adults with no criminal record to speak of? Okay, wait. I have chucked my controller across the room during a boss battle once or twice. You got me.

But wait… aren’t there other pastimes that are technically more violent than playing an E for Everyone video game? Like full contact sports? Maybe we should put a warning label on football or wrestling or soccer or hunting or martial arts… Oh, that’s different because those things are real and smashing mushrooms is fantasy. I get it now.

I believe the stupidity speaks for itself. Once again, we have legislation crafted by non-gamers to appease other non-gamers who don’t understand why we play, create, and enjoy games. Why video games have become the Ouija board-pariahs of entertainment I’ll never know. Sometimes, I think these parents should sit down and experience the evil video games for themselves instead of diving back into Puritanism. Eesh.

Thankfully, the ECA is on the case!

    Mood: Troll spray!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: One. No, really.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walk
    Yesterday’s Projects: Game, Editing, Fiction
    In My Ears: The whispering wind. DOM DOM DOM.
    Game Last Played: Battle Something or Other
    Movie Last Viewed: Kaena: The Prophecy
    Book Last Read: [Redacted.]
    Latest Artistic Project: Paint! Thar has been painting.
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Research and Background – Part 1 of 5

When I was plotting Redwing’s Gambit, the Fate version of Bulldogs! was just a glimmer in Brennan Taylor’s eye. I knew that the game was going to employ the same system as Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions, but that’s as far as my knowledge went.

The first question I asked myself was not about what story I wanted to write, but how I wanted to present the tale in such a way that felt more like Fate than d20. I had played Spirit of the Century and I also participated in a game run by Ryan Macklin, too. In my mind, Fate really emphasizes and focuses on relationships or the ties that connect and bind the characters to one another.

To help me make my decision, I dove into cinematic reference material to feel out the structure or the architecture of the story. (In other words, I wanted to design an elevator pitch that captured the mood.) Farscape. Star Wars. Firefly. Star Trek. I, Robot. Earth 2. Dune, etc. Of the many science fiction titles I had at my disposal, I leaned more strongly toward a Farscape crossed with Firefly feel. Farscape has a cast of several alien races — including the ship Moya — but still manages to focus on story in spite of the sheer volume of aliens the writers have to describe. Bulldogs! has several alien races and a theological war, too. Firefly has close-knit relationships, all of which are human, but mixes up action and mystery to survive another day.

Now, in both shows, the crews are on-the-run. They’re rogues. Renegades. Pirates. Escapees. I didn’t want to mirror that in my story because I felt it was too easy and distanced itself from the heart of what Bulldogs! is. Sure, there’s pirates in Bulldogs! but the galaxy is only so big and it is at odds with itself. What makes the Bulldogs! setting unique to me are the alien races and how they interact with one another. Those connections create a lot of conflict — which is great for both a game and a story.

Before I could craft a plot, though, I felt I needed to draw up the characters and use the Fate system to ground them. Enter the treatment and the characterization of the full cast and crew.

Other Parts to this Series

  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Easter Eggs – Part 5 of 5 will be published on April 23, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Revisions and Cut Text – Part 4 of 5 will be published on April 16, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Structure and Plot – Part 3 of 5 will be published on April 9, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Characters and Treatment – Part 2 of 5 will be published on April 2, 2012
  • You are reading Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Research and Background – Part 1 of 5

About Redwing’s Gambit: Redwing’s Gambit, the first novella for the Bulldogs! RPG, debuts today in digital. This story was written by Monica Valentinelli and will be published by Galileo Games, creator of the Bulldogs! RPG. This RPG was originally published with a d20 system in 2005. It has since been updated and released in a new edition which employs the Fate mechanic in 2011.

Next Posts

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.


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