My Weekend: Cheers and Jeers

 

Jeers: Back and Neck pain. Please make this stop. Just pull out my spine and stick a tension rod in there.

Cheers: Geek night on Saturday. Finished an rpg story arc with my friends (we’re playing a superhero RPG). Leveled up. Ate pizza and drank beer. Ended the night with a spirited game of Risk: Legacy. Discovered that falling asleep drunk means that I won’t toss and turn with back pain…still a bad idea.

Cheers: Tailgating at the Jets game. Woke up at 7. Got there with my friends. Was drinking by 10. Ate way too much. Had a great time. I love my friends and love tailgating even more.

Cheers/Jeers: The Jets game. 90 degree heat and direct sunlight. I was wearing my hardhat and some facepaint, so it was kinda torturous. Especially since all I had to drink so far was cawfee and beer. I think I drank 4 waters and 2 gatorades during the game…I don’t do well in the heat.

But the game was great, and the Jets won! By a lot! Against the Dolphins (to longtime fans like me, the Dolphins are our traditional rival, not the Patriots)! We had great seats (end zone 100 level). Two of my friends that went had never been to an NFL game before, and they both enjoyed it.

As a side note, no one booed the kneeling players, and a good chunk of the crowd kneeled as well. Take that as you wish.

Jeers: The dehydration/hangover headache on Monday. Oy vey.

I hope that you enjoyed this blatant ripoff of TV Guide’s Cheers and Jeers section…back when people used to read TV Guide.

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Surprise Wisdom From D&D

Every other Saturday is D&D day. I love the campaign I’m in. We’ve been playing together for 20 years, in several different campaigns. The DM is a great storyteller. The PCs are interesting and complex. The plot is phenomenal to the point where I’m jealous.

Something interesting came up in out-of-character conversation:

Continue reading

Gamergate and the New (Old) Rules

I realize that I’m a little late to the game with Gamergate. Because I was traveling, I had to read from my phone as the Internet exploded. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to say. I know that it’s a little odd for me to write a serious post. I hope you bear with me.

While this is a post that appears to be about Gamergate, it’s about something much bigger than that. Read on to see.

I’m a gamer. At this point, I’m a pretty old gamer. I started with an Atari 2600. I plunked quarters into Pac Man and Pole Position. I remember the robot that came with the original NES. And yet, I still prefer card and tabletop games to video games, especially DnD. You can say that I’m a well-rounded nerd. That’s why Gamergate hurts so much. It’s a failure of the community that I’ve belonged to all of my life. You might even say that my generation was the founder of the gamer community. So what have we become?

Why?

The Evolution of Gamergate

I think by now most of us understand what Gamergate is, was, and has become. Although the background around it comes from the portrayal of women in games, it sparked with a rumor about an affair between a female game designer and a video game journalist (I’m not going to use names, because they’ve had their names dragged through the Net enough, and it’s not important to my argument).

Let’s just say that it’s true. This could have been a great chance to discuss ethics in journalism within the gamer industry. I’m a former music journalist, and I know that the relationship between artist and reporter can be muddled. Free tickets, free albums, and free swag. You sometimes become friends with the artists. It’s hard to stay unbiased. It’s a big part of the reason I left. I refer you to the movie Almost Famous for a more visual example.

It could have been that, but it morphed into something very ugly. Death threats, rape(!) threats, accounts hacked and personal information spread across the Net like trash on an interstate. There was even a terrorist threat of a school massacre if a certain female journalist (again, no names), spoke. Yes, threatening violence to stop someone from speaking is terrorism. It might be a perfect example of terrorism.

A great, misogynistic beast broke loose from its chains like Donkey Kong and laid waste to the Internet. It may only be a small group, but that group has become representative of the entire community. And there I was, watching without voice as the gamer community decomposes.

What really gets me are the rape threats tossed around like they mean nothing. There is nothing more disgusting than threatening someone with rape, especially when they’ve been doxxed. Rape is the lowest common denominator; apparently death and torture aren’t intense enough threats. Worse, it’s the kind of threat made specifically toward women. It’s the trump card of misogyny, the “I’m going to hurt you and demean you in a way that shows the dominance of my gender.”

The Symptom, not the Cause

As bad as Gamergate is, it’s a symptom of a larger problem. There’s a lack of empathy within the Internet. People attack each other as if they’re only blips on a screen, Koopas to be squashed or Space Invaders to be shot down. I read one tweet that said (and I’m paraphrasing here) the way people respond to the other side of Gamergate is like in Double Dragon, where the entire town wants to fight you.

People say things on the Internet that no decent person would ever say, and certainly wouldn’t say face to face. It’s the distance between. It creates the illusion of anonymity, and that unleashes the beast.

I know all about this. As a teen, I went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night. If you’ve never been, you won’t understand. The audience–all in the dark–shout some of the foulest things you’ll ever hear at the screen. The darkness and anonymity equals freedom. I shouted things I’d never say in the light of day. But we never tried to hurt anyone, and that’s the difference.

This doesn’t even include my love for Cards Against Humanity, which should never be played in public.

Meet the New Rules…Same as the Old Rules

I think we need, as a community, review the rules of discourse. The Internet is still a brave new world, and without reeling in the vitriol, we’ll poison ourselves.

If you only remember one thing from this blog, it’s this.

1) Don’t post anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say in person: This includes certain jokes, naked pics, and sharing too much information.

2) Don’t say anything on the Internet that would get you punched in the face at a bar: This includes insults, Net Muscles, and threats of violence.

3) Before you say something on the Internet, ask yourself “what if someone said this to one of my loved ones?” If the answer is “smash their balls with a hammer,” don’t say it.

4) Don’t hack or doxx anyone, no matter how much they deserve it: That’s not going to get your point across. What it will do is bring governments down on the Net. Is that what you want?

5) Don’t feed the trolls: If someone trolls, don’t take the bait. No one wins an argument on the Net, and it makes everyone looks bad. If it gets threatening, report it, but don’t feed the troll. Remember, what you say on the Internet stays there FOREVER.

FOR-FREAKIN-EVER

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

How Settlers of Catan Improved My Promotion Skills Part II

Ok, this is a continuation of an earlier post, where I tried to convince people that gaming is the key to building promotional skills. Interested? Intrigued? In Sheboygan for the weekend (what?)? Check out part 1 before or after you read this (or you laugh at the memes).

What? You thought a cat riding a peanut butter and jelly sammich wouldn’t end up here?

4) Have a strategy and stick with it (unless it obviously isn’t working)

I’ve seen a lot of people play Catan, and they’re just all over the place with it. A little construction here, a little development points there, etc. It doesn’t work. You have to pick one strategy (based on your situation) and go with it. Personally, I like to build settlements and go for the longest road, but do whatever works for you.

When it comes to promotion, people sometimes get overwhelmed by the options. Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Pintrest, Reddit, Personal Pleas, Free Giveaways, Paying for promotion…so many options. When there’s a buffet in front of you, it’s hard to resist trying a little of everything (believe me, I know my buffets). The problem is that doing a little of everything is like doing nothing. Find one strategy and stick with it until it’s obvious that it doesn’t work. Give it at least 6 months, maybe even a year. Building recognition takes a long time. Be patient.

Don’t beg, engage instead.

5) Don’t Try to Tear Down Others, Just Build Better

Nobody likes the dick that plays The Robber. In Catan, you can use the robber to mess other people up, but it will almost always backfire on you (the only exception is when you use it to keep the leader from pulling too far ahead).

Remember rule #1, if you act like a dick, people remember. They will be wary of you every time you play from now on. People don’t always remember the good things that you do, but they always remember the bad ones (remember the John Pigfucker joke).

It’s hard to be nice all the time. When you put yourself out in public like writers do, people will insult you, shoot you down, and just troll for no better reason than to troll. You have to stay above all of this. There are tons of stories about people or businesses that got into flame wars and it dragged them down. Just don’t get sucked in.

Instead of rolling around in the mud, just build better. Stay your course, be positive and surround yourself with a network of positive people. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not, but it’s better than sinking into the quicksand of dickitude (it’s a word now!)

And get off my lawn…dick!

In Closing

I think that the suggestions I make in this blog and the previous one boils down to this: Don’t be an asshole. This is a pretty good mantra for life. Say it with me now…”Don’t. Be. An. Asshole.”

*drops mic*

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

Geekin it Up

It’s time for my bi-weekly DnD game. Last time we had a major battle, this time we deal with all the fall out. It’s gonna be bad.

The thing that I like best about this campaign is that the players have to face responsibility for our actions. We’ve already become wanted in our home country. it doesn’t matter if the people we fight are bad, they’re still people and the law protects them too.

Too many games are hack and slash with no worries or complexity. Our game is the opposite.

Time to bust out my dice. TTYL

How Settlers of Catan Improved My Promotion Skills Part I

I’ve been thinking about this article for a long time. I already wrote about how Dungeons and Dragons made me a better writer. I’ve also written about how war game strategies transfer to life. It’s natural to explore the effects of gaming. And you know, there’s something here.

I’m a gamer. I love German-style board games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Puerto Rico, to name a few. Oh, how I love gaming, and I think that some aspects of the games can be applied to real life.

I’m by no means an expert at promoting. When it comes to writing, yeah, I have tons of practical advice. I’ve been writing professionally for 15 years (can you believe that we used to snail mail copies of short stories to magazines?) and I teach creative writing. But with promotion, I just pass on the things I’m learning, with my own psychotic twist.

He would know…

I’ve been reading a ton of stuff on marketing for my novel and serial (and upcoming novels), along with advice from my publisher. There’s a flood of books out there right now (including tons for free), and it’s near impossible to make it without a solid strategy. I’m nowhere near the “made it” level. I hardly sell at all (though I blame this on my book being too pricey…no I can’t lower the price. That’s up to the publisher.)

Anyway, the more I learn the more I see similarities to gaming strategies. I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. I’ll get more specific below, but the key is: Be good, be focused, and don’t be a dick about it.

1)It’s a long game (from the right pov). build a reputation

Settlers of Catan is not a long game, and yet it is. No one plays just one game of it, and the people you play with are probably the people you’ll play with next time and the time after. In a sense, Settlers of Catan (and all games) is a game that goes on forever. People have long memories, and your actions in one game will influence all the games afterwards.

This means that you don’t want to get into internet fights (even if someone deserves it). Enemies are forever (think about Risk: Legacy…I’m looking at you, Osvaldo). Instead, make honest friendships. I’ve met some wonderful people in the writing business, going all the way back to my years as a journalist. Don’t try to befriend people just to use them. That’s a dick move. However, when you do find that kindred spirit, hold on to them and rise up together.

It’s so true.

I get tons of twitter “follows” from other writers. I only follow the writers that I have things in common with. I engage them in conversation, I enjoy their company. Even if I fail as a promoter and no one ever reads my books, I made some good friends.

2) Trade Honestly
In all games, I try to trade for mutual benefit. I realize that it might help someone else win, but it helps me in the long run. Again, don’t think of it as one game, but one short section of a longer game. With a reputation as a fair trader, I get more people willing to trade with me.

On the other hand, if I try to cheat people, people won’t want to trade, and I’m stuck without the resources I need.

Naughty Mr. Bean

This is doubly true with promotion. It’s something that goes on forever, so if you build that reputation (see above), it will come back to you. Of course, people will try to cheat me. I’ve had a few situations where I’ve promoted another person and they haven’t reciprocated. I don’t let that sway me. I just don’t deal with them anymore.

Firepole Marketing says that if you want people to follow/be interested in you, you have to give them something first. Offer a free story if they join your mailing list, etc. But be honest about it. Firepole is great when it comes to engaging audience, and I highly recommend their website (look at me, I’m giving them free promotion! I learned something, Firepole!).

3) Build a Strong Base of Resources

In Settlers of Catan, it’s important to gather resources through settlements. This gives you the ability to expand. No strategy works without the resources to implement it. If you go for longest road, development cards, or armies too early, you’ll find yourself without a sheep to stand on (or brick, wheat…you get the idea).

Just the same in promotion, you have to build a fanbase, and the way you do that is by giving (and hoping they give back). Without that initial fanbase, all your fancy facebook boosts and events won’t mean a thing. Engage your audience. Don’t be aloof. George RR Martin blogs almost every day, even though he has millions of fans and a ton of other stuff to do. He also has a circle of fellow writers that he plugs all the time. Neil Gaiman is always tweeting and retweeting other peoples’ tweets. Will Wheaton and George Takei both revitalized their careers through social media. If these writers and actors with a huge fan base do it, maybe you should too.

This is getting to be a long article, so I will continue in Part II.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. 

You can also check out my latest novel The Watchmage of Old New York. It’s a reboot of the serial from Jukepop Serials, which at one point reached #2 on their popularity chart. The novel is even better!

The Watchmage Is Coming

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

Weekend Fun, new article soon

Hey all. I’ve been slacking a little bit with the articles, because I’ve been out having fun. Fun is fun, and it’s rare that I get to have fun. I hope that you all had a great Labor Day weekend with lots of fun. Because fun is fun.

But…fun is fun…

Anyway, I am working on an article which should be up soon. It’s about book promotion and how Settlers of Catan (and similar games) made me a better promoter. Intrigued? Me too. I dunno how I’m gonna bring these together. I have a general idea though, and I trust in my brain. It’s crazy enough to find a link.

does that strategy ever work?

So gamers and writer, look out. I’m comin’ to gitcha…with words.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!