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Old 02-09-2011, 09:40 AM   #152
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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The point is well taken from some of the elder members that we've discussed the problems in great detail, but we need to start proposing solutions. I would quibble that these have been suggested already, but in very tentative ways, but before I can even quite get to the point of looking at concrete solutions, I think it might be helpful to recap the situation, as I see it.

Problems Facing Us in the Current Situation:

Basically, this seems to come down to a problem of numbers. The current three-tier RPing system--which, as an aside, I think was entirely valid when it started--hails back to a time when there were many more people on the Downs generally, but especially in the RP forums. This numbers problem is somewhat compounded by the popularity of WW games, which draws from the same pool of people. As Nog notes, however, RPs and WW are different in kind and cannot simply be interchanged for each other.

The general mood would add to the numbers problem the additional concern that the three-tier system is "elitist"--and, perhaps, that's a bit of a straw man position, but, hey, this is a recap... The root of the elitist complaint, in my opinion, is that the three-tier system is too much structure for so few people. In an era when the Gondorian players with status to open games were highly active, and were invited people in regularly--and when there was a lot of activity in the lower fora as well--I don't get the impression that it was too much structure or elitism. It may have been off-putting to start out "small"... but we can all list games in the Shire that were not mere babysitting hoops to jump through, but fun, even complex, stories we all enjoyed.

That was then. Now we have no gamers active in Gondor to invite those who have proven their mettle, so the forum looks even hoarier and more forbidding than it should (even if there is truly a high value of licit foreboding involved). Rohan and the Shire move along quietly, but without clear distinctions betwixt them, save the impression to newcomers and outsiders that they are hierarchical and rigid, and somewhat sluggish.

There is also the problem that games often drag on far past their expiration dates in a perpetual limbo, which decreases everyone's willingness to get involved in the next game.

Things Worth Keeping in the Current System:

Despite these problems, I don't think anyone is suggesting that we go back to the days of the Wild West--even though it would be more of a Ghost Town than a Gold Rush. I think other people should really think through what they like about the system as we have it. They should also think, though, about whether or not these qualities are something that need to be present throughout the gaming fora generally, or if they would be sufficiently present if they were only in the rules for a particular game.

Speaking for myself, the one thing about the current system that I would not want to lose is the forum-moderator(s). Pio plays an indispensible role, and I think that in a restructured Gaming Forum we would still want someone to approve new games, with an eye to whether they're sufficiently Tolkien, and to help with general forum maintenance/policing. In case it's not obvious, I don't think we want heavy-handed mods (nor do I think we have them now), but we do need someone to open/close/merge threads, and I think it's important besides that for the forum to have someone who can serve as a Court of Appeals, if disputes break out between players. Bęthberry's anecdote about moderating in a way comparable to the Books forum was very interesting to me. I think the general hands-off, helpful approach is definitely worth emulating, and I certainly don't want to imply that she did things wrong before, but speaking from my own experience as the Gaming Moderator on another (albeit less excellent or literary) forum, I think it does require a special sort of interest... mostly, though, it's about having common sense, fairly regular availability, and a good handle on both Tolkien and RPing.

However, since this is something I want to keep that we already have, perhaps I've been unnecessarily long-winded.

Suggestions for a New Gaming Forum

What follows are my own thoughts, intended most to get the ball rolling.

I think we should have:

1. Two forums, rather than the current three.

2. These fora should be distinguished between "Doriath" (Tightly Controlled) and "Rivendell" * (Loosely Controlled). In a sense, this will parallel to the current "highly babysat in the Shire" and mark's free expressionism in Gondor, but not exactly.

3. Doriath:

a. Games in Doriath may be started by any BDer who wants to start a game (no prior experience required), though they will have to run the game by the Mods for approval.

b. The game must adhere to all the current rules about being Middle-earth based.

c. The mods might also deny someone the right to start a game on the basis of past failures to run a successful game, but this need not be hard and fast rule.

d. The game owner will be the game moderator, and will have a fairly "controlled" game. In plot vs. character terms, these would be plot-driven games, and would be the kind of games that Snowdog can't really play. The powers of the game owner might be considered comparable to those of a WW mod: broad discretion, subject to their own posted rules and those of the forum.

e. They would also be required to have a definite timeframe (3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years, whatever), and players would have a right to expect the game to end at the end of the advertised timeline. If the game was not over, players would have a right to drop out of the game, regardless of its status, or to remain aboard with the moderator (who would also have the right to drop out) and continue--but the continuation would also require a deadline.

f. Games would be by invitation or open to interested comers according to the preference of the game owner.

g. In the event of the disappearance of the game owner, the players could either request and propose a new game owner from among their numbers or the game could be terminated. Alternatively, the disappearing game owner could have a co-owner from the beginning, or appoint one when the crisis arose.

4. Rivendell:

a. The Rivendell forum would be for open-ended games (those with no deadlines) and for character-driven games where collaborative writing rather than a plot idea was the main motivator.

b. Anyone on the Downs could propose a game in this forum, subject to Mod approval. The Mod(s) would be within their rights to refuse newcomers and/or inexperienced players.

c. Because of the collaborative nature, there would be no formal game owner. A game might be, in practice, led and/or founded by someone, but that person's disappearance would not automatically cause the game to be closed or reassigned, since their role would not formally be to run the game.

So... umm... that's a lot of writing. Thoughts?

*For the sake of having a name, Doriath and Rivendell is what I'm using in this proposal. "The Shire" and "Rohan" could be retained or "the Shire" and "Gondor," or new names devised, or whatever... I just needed names.
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