I was recently reading Matt Richards recent Editorial over on Dark Lords of the Sith (here), which talks about the state of the Star Wars Roleplaying community, and decided that I'd like to add my own two-pennies-worth to the subject.
I've never really been part of the greater community, I just kinda stuck my site up on the Internet and let people come and see what I was doing, and while this has been very successful (well, when I started off I never imagined that 3 years later I'd still be doing it, and that over 25,000 visitors would be coming to the site every month), but this attitude has left RPGGamer.org off the radar as much as the main Star Wars Community is concerned.
While we've become the third largest repository of Star Wars D/6 stats on the Internet we seem to be rarely recognised as such, although that said DLOS seems to have much of the same problem since the community really only seems to rally round swrpgnetwork, but that is only right since they have created such a massive resource for the community in the form of Holonet (where I can be often found).
But a point has to be made, while Holonet is as busy and full of ideas as it always has been, swrpgnetwork has been very quiet lately (although there has been some activity caused recently by the release of Episode 3), and it has been up to other sites to take up the slack. Also unfortunately for the Star Wars community, the starwars-rpg.net site was taken out by storms in Florida where it is based. This led to all the hosted sites being lost, including Dark Lords of the Sith, something which even now some six months later hasn't been fully recovered from.
A number of the points that Matt makes are right, the Star Wars RPG community seems to be at a low point at the moment, the D/6 system has been dying for years, although remains popular with those who see the D/20 system as a glorified Dungeons & Dragons (although since Star Wars is glorified sword and sorcery I see little wrong with that), and with no new releases for the D/20 system it means that officially Star Wars Roleplaying is dead (at least until Wizards of the Coast's licence expires in 2018.
Also with swrpgnetwork staff being mainly too busy with commercial projects, and the failure of StarWars-RPG.net having eliminated a number of sites, only a few of which have returned, it has left the two largest sources of fan material being created somewhat dead and lacking in updates or new material.
And this is a major disappointment for the community, especially as this is an exciting and innovative time for the Star Wars Universe, with massive resources of background information becoming available, from the computer games such as Republic Commando and Knights of the Old Republic, to the Expanded Universe Novels and the movie guide-books, right up to the prequel movies and Clone Wars animated series. Not only are previously known eras and areas of background being fleshed out (e.g. the Mandalorians history in KotOR 1+2 and their future in the Novels) but whole new unknown parts of the Star Wars background are being added.
Something else Matt has got right, is that as long as there are regular updates, on the whole no-one cares what the site looks like (although obviously that has certain limits, a nice looking and easily used site makes the whole experience far nicer, and if you take pride in the look of your site, then its going to lend an air of professionalism to your stats), many sites spend more time redesigning their site every few months than they do putting stats up. However, don't take this as an argument against redesigning sites from time to time, after all the new look DLOS is brilliant (its got a couple of flaws, but mainly I love it), and we've been working on a slight redesign to the site for a year or so (we're busy people, so it remains on the back burner for the moment).
Well, after all that, I've got no great solution to offer. The main problem I can see is that some of the old timers are moving onto new games, moving away from gaming entirely, or in some rare occasions getting jobs within the RPG industry (a good sign that the quality of Star Wars fans is high when they get employment through their hobby) and that nobody is really coming in to replace them. This is in part due to the quality of material out there on the web (why make up stats for Episode 3, when you'll get them sooner or later off Holonet), but also due to the attitude prevalent within the older members of the community.
Before I comment on others I'll admit my own faults, even though lately I've been trying to work more closely with the Star War RPG Community, but on the whole the fact that I answer Email irregularly (my usual email turn-around is 3 weeks) seems to put people off (although if they get involved in the forum they'll find that there is several people who are involved with the site who'll be more than happy to hassle me into action).
But the attitudes of others are downright hostile, while writing this editorial, I took a break to read Holonet, only to discover a thread from an old-timer complaining about newcomers filling the board with pointless posts, and saying he was looking forwards to when the business caused by the latest movie was past and the board could quiet down once again. My favourite comment of this harangue was where he said that people come onto Holonet without knowing how it works, well what kind of welcome is that, "Hi, this is our community, stick to the unwritten rules".
There were two main reasons that I set up RPGGamer.org, firstly that I had to create a web-site for an HNC module, and secondly because of the original reception I found on Holonet, being flamed to a crisp for making an innocent comment (I can't remember the details now, but I think I made a comment someone else had made in another thread so was causing repetition among the threads, or something like that). Later once I was more confident of my position within the community (by setting up RPGGamer.org, and by gamesmastering Star Wars D/6 for a couple of years, whereas when I first went on I was just starting to gamesmaster D/6) I went in spoiling for a fight, but never found one, mainly because most of the people on there are great and don't mind newbie's coming in and playing in their playground, and also because I didn't really care what other people said, as long as I was making an honest contribution, people on the whole liked it and were grateful of someone willing to help and put in some effort.
So after all that, perhaps my only solution for the stagnancy and diminishing size of the Star Wars RPG Community is that we should be more supportive of newbie's, and generally nicer and more respectful of people who are actually willing to make a contribution, no matter how small.
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