Answering Questions, Part 6: Tell Us About the Blogs
I feel like, as the guy with the monster blog roll, you probably have a pretty good feel for the RPG blogosphere's pulse. I'm curious how you would profile us?
How do we play? What fraction of the blogosphere is "new school" versus "old school"? How many people are playing AD&D, Pathfinder, 4e, Fate, etc? Are there bloggers for whom you really can't tell? What fraction of bloggers are also homebrewing their own systems?
Who are we? This may be hard to tell from a blog, but what's the age range of the community? Gender balance? How are we distributed geographically? How many of the bloggers seem like, actually, pretty cool people that would be fun to run a game with -- or just grab a beer with? +Charles McEachern
Okay, let’s deal with these in order.
How do we play?
By and large the majority of us play our games with respect for one and another – which isn’t the least bit surprising as most of us play with friends.
What fraction of the blog-o-sphere is “new school” versus “old school?”
I think that if you go by how people self-identify than the "old school" blogs tend to outnumber most of the other blogs both in terms of activity and profusion; however, that label tends to often be misapplied by authors trying to identify with a movement larger then themselves. And it’s only natural that each of us wants to be a part of something bigger rather than living on an island with our own ideas.
So that label is a great way for people to connect and to announce to one and another “Here’s one creative bastard, come here for great ideas and ways to enrich your games!” But so often what they’re putting out isn’t what I would define as “old school,” instead they’re just being highly creative – and being highly creative isn’t something that ended when the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons came out (no matter which version of the game that is to you).
How many people are playing AD&D, Pathfinder, 4e, Fate, etc?
By and large the biggest group of blogs I have encountered are playing retro-clones based on editions of Dungeons and Dragons prior to third edition. Then you have Third Edition/Pathfinder crowd that occasionally breakout into idiotic fights over their incredibly similar systems. Followed by FATE, Fourth Edition, GURPS, and then those hold outs for the smaller niche games.
Honestly the system most people are playing is so meaningless when it comes to their blogs that I’ve had a hard time understanding why they insist on shouting to the mountains about it.
Look, you can use the amazing ideas coming from Elfmaids and Octopi, or False Machine, or any of the other two hundred and fifty blogs on the Great Blog Roll Call without worrying about whether they’ll fit with Third Edition or GURPS or Tunnels and Trolls. The ideas that these authors are putting out there are often system neutral and you’d be a fool to eliminate anyone who puts out a good idea because they’re using the ‘wrong’ system.
Are there bloggers for whom you really can't tell?
There are bloggers out there who never tell you they’re running first edition or FATE and you’re reading them for months thinking that this would be the most amazing Gamma World game when suddenly the author talks about how he’s been running GURPS for the last four years.
What fraction of bloggers are also homebrewing their own systems?
At one time it was a whole lot more prevalent than it is today (I read about it in their archives all the time), but I would hazard a guess that full system homebrews come in about one out of every hundred blogs or so. Now partial system homebrews are found in practically every single blog I read as all of us are constantly adding, subtracting and manipulating our favorite games.
I guess it must just come with the hobby.
Who are we?
Mostly good people who just want to get their voices out there and find others who can identify with them. Some of us are liars who pretend to be what we are not, but that always seems to come out in the end.
This may be hard to tell from a blog, but what's the age range of the community?
Most of the blogs I read are written by authors between the ages of thirty and fifty, though there are outliers in each direction, with the vast majority being in their mid-to-late thirties.
I think I’ve only run across maybe two or three female hobby bloggers so far? It’s sometimes hard to tell.
I have a suspicion that there are more out there that I’ve not encountered but they just aren’t being promoted because the authors don’t have the patience to deal with the idiots asking for pictures of their tits and slavishly dotting on them. It’s a shame too because girls can write and I love reading their perspectives on not only the hobby, but on life in general.
A great one to look at is +Rachel Ghoul's blog Rachel Bonuses. She updates on a regular basis and has a great mind that will, hopefully, be providing us all with amazing content for years to come.
How are we distributed geographically?
Most of us are in the United States, then the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, and the Philippians, in that order.
How many of the bloggers seem like, actually, pretty cool people that would be fun to run a game with -- or just grab a beer with?
There have only been three bloggers that I just would not hang out with that I’ve encountered since I started blogging. All three are assholes in completely different ways and I have no idea how any of them are able to maintain healthy relationships inside, or outside, of the blog-o-sphere. Other than those three, I have been amazed at how many creative and well-meaning people I’ve met through their blogs.