Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Some Advice For Getting Started On G+ For The Gaming Community

Occasionally, it is pointed out to me that not every gamer worth talking to uses Google+. This is a damn shame. Most of the excuses I hear from non-G+ gamers include language about "switching" from Facebook or that G+ is some sort of "ghost town." I don't consider myself to have "switched" to G+; I still check Facebook every day or two, but since the conversation on G+ is much more interesting than the cat video that someone else's Grandma "liked" or the twelve-thousandth ad for the same idiotic time sink of a video game with a different name, G+ is where I go for most of my conversation about things that actually interest me. Some people use forums (somehow), I use G+, as does quite a lot of the gaming community, particularly the folks worth talking to (if you want gaming hipsters, you can ad Twitter, too, but pretty much all of the good conversation revolves around @TimCallahan). The "ghost town" rhetoric is also clearly, patently false and can only the result of people not knowing how circles work or that they should add people to them. In reality, this bias boils down to "I don't know how to use it," which is also the third most common complaint I hear/read about G+. And so, we have the #1 complaint ("I don't want to switch") being irrelevant and the #2 & #3 complaint being the same thing.

As you might have guessed from this post's title, today we're going to talk about how to get over the "I don't know how to use it" hurdle, especially with an eye on the gaming community. I know not all of you asked for this (and really, if you don't need/want it, you can tune out right now, I promise I won't be offended).

#1 -  Turn Off Your +1 Shares

G+ automatically defaults to a setting that no one wants you to use: it automatically defaults to sharing when you "+1" something (the G+ equivalent of "liking" on FB) with everyone who has you in a circle. Any circle. This is bad for two reasons:

  • First, it lets the world know that you "+1ed" a lame-ass cute cat video. Such shame cannot be undone.
  • Second, since that plus is shared with all of your circles, folks who may have you in one circle might see things you've plussed that are completely unrelated to that circle. 
To understand why the second point there is a problem, consider that I might have more than one interest (shocking, I know, but it's true) and that my "+1 shares" are on. If I plus a post about something you find offensive (like pretty much anything political) or inflammatory (again, Politics) or just not good. You don't want to see that thing. You didn't ask for it to show up in your stream, and yet it does. Turning off "+1 shares" makes sure you're not that asshole who does that to everybody. For more info on how to turn off these shares, check out this post on G+:

http://ow.ly/GBIc4

#2 - No, Seriously, Fill Out Your Profile

I don't really care where you went to school. "School of hard knocks" is only funny the first ten times you see it, though; then it gets irritating. The real reason for personalizing your profile is to tell the world (and potential other gamers) a bit about yourself. Want to find gamers local to you? It might make sense to fill in your location and maybe some games you're interested in. Actually, if you want to get involved in the online gaming community, freaking talk about it; gaming isn't something to be ashamed of and hidden away on some "uber-pryv8" account somewhere. If you're that embarrassed that you're a gamer, you probably shouldn't involve yourself in the community. But that's me, being an asshole.

As a moderator of several G+ communities, most of which are private, I can tell you that when I get people asking to join, the first thing that I do is look at their G+ profile. If they talk about gaming on it, make posts about it or even just self-identify as a gamer, they're in. If they don't talk about gaming at all, I don't feel confident that they can add anything to the community, so I don't add them. And this, I feel, is setting the bar low. So please, help a brother out and fill in your profile with the appropriate game facts.

#3 - Five Communities To Join

Just now, when you thought I was going to give you a handy-dandy list of links that just say "go here, do this," I'm going to pull the rug out from under that thought and make you do work. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and that's always going to require some work. Also, I don't know what you're into, so rather than me just giving you five specific communities to join, here are five types of communities to join.

  1. The community for your favorite game. It's out there, wouldn't you like to be talking about it? Well, I couldn't find a "Bunnies & Burrows" community, but what can I say? Most everything else is out there.
  2. The community for a game that you want to try. Communities are a great way to let you "try before you buy" or even just peak under the hood and see what folks who are into the game are talking about without you having to drop a dime on the game itself.
  3. The community for a game or type of game you want to learn more about. New to the OSR but want to know more? Join the OSR community. Want to learn about cheap "hacks" for table top gaming? Join the Gaming On The Cheap community. Hell, don't limit this to games. Music. Literature. Whatever. Get specific (there's a Weird Tales community). Go general. Whatever. Just keep exploring. Just like you would in real life.
  4. The community for your closest gaming convention. For me, that's U Con. For you, it may be GaryCon or Gamehole or Con On The Cob or whatever the hell is near you. It pays to know when games are happening near you and this way you can "meet" some gamers who might be close as well. 
  5. The community for a method of gaming online. Roll20 is one of my favorites, but I'm also in a more general Hangout Gamers one. There are communities for other methods, too, such as Fantasy Grounds and PbP groups, too. 

#4 - Make Your Circles Work For You

Let's face it: the default G+ circles suck. They're pointless. You're not going to use them. Instead, set up a series of circles that makes sense out of folks in the way you want to make sense out of them. I, for instance, have circles that group people by my connection to them. Remember that circles are your primary way for filtering info to and from individuals, so it makes sense to spend some time tweaking them. I have a really messy way that somehow works for me, but I know some folks have hit upon really easy methods for organizing them (in particular, I recommend the method that +Sean P Kelley mentioned on his +Gaming & BS podcast, but it's almost too much work for me to take on right now). 

#5 - 5 Gamers to Circle

When I suggested to join 5 communities, I gave you some homework to do. This time, I'm going to do it for you and just tell you who to follow. I'm going to steer clear of controversial choices because they're easy to suggest, but they're just as easy for you to find on your own, so why should I do it? You'll eventually come into contact with folks who have BIG FUCKING OPINIONS about gaming and rather than point those folks out to you, I'd rather just let the waves of "the boat a-rockin'" do it for you. 

That having been said, here are five gamers to follow because the things they post are worth paying attention to: 
  1. +trey causey 
  2. +Stacy Dellorfano 
  3. +Casey Garske 
  4. +kreg mosier 
  5. +Victor Garrison 
At first, I wanted to explain each of my choices. As I started to do so, I realized that I should let these folks speak for themselves. Check them out. Just having them in your circles will make those circles better places, or at least more interesting. And definitely weirder. There are lots more folks I could add to this list and many folks I nearly did. Start here. Find the folks with the best comments on these folks' posts. Roll with that. 

Well, that's it for me for right now except I can't go without paying my Joesky tax. 

Joesky Tax: The Banishing Blade

One of the greatest treasures of the ultimate dynasty of the Sandlander nobility to rule over Temosh, the Banishing Blade was crafted by the Temoshi soul-smiths and presented to the dynasty's greatest champions. A long-hafted sword of thick iron, the Banishing Blade is especially effective against spirits, demons and other beings of foreign planes as well as any mortals possessed by them. The Banishing Blade is a lawful weapon with an Intelligence of 8 which communicates with its bearer via empathy, particularly imparting a strong distaste for the beings it was built to combat: the aforementioned spirits, demons and planar creatures, most notably of a Chaotic nature. Against these creatures and any mortals possessed by them, the Banishing Blade functions as a +3 sword; against all others, it is a +1 sword. Any creatures of foreign planes slain and returned to their home plane by the Banishing Blade are prevented from returning to the world for a year and a day. The bearer of the Blade may detect evil at will, but will only detect the planar creatures to which it is bane. Additionally, once per week, the bearer of the Blade my drive a possessing spirit out of its mortal host and protects the bearer from possession as the provision of the Protection from evil spell.