First off I want to say that sometimes these pieces are tongue-in-cheek and meant to share a bit of my odd sense of humor here on the blog. Sometimes though they are about more serious topics, not war in the Ukraine serious, but serious topics like Kickstarter, Solo Gaming and Gen Con. In this edition of The Love/Hate Relationship I want to share my thoughts on Content Creation! Now, I know that many people want to refer to us as bloggers, YouTubers or even podcasters (which I have never understood as we are lots of things but definitely don’t do podcasts). But I don’t see us that way. I see us playing games, sharing those games and sometimes creating interesting pieces about those games. Therefore, I would classify what we do as Content Creation! We are not salesman. Nor pushers. Nor shills who are bought and paid for by the highest bidder. We are first and foremost gamers, who like to share our thoughts and feelings about games. So please come along with me on this look at what I love and hate about Content Creation!
First off, I love to game! I love many types of games including euro games, deck builders, social deduction, hidden traitor, racing, worker placement, RPG’s and cooperatives. They all have their merits and a place on my gaming shelf but my first love is wargaming, including historical simulations, hex and counter, card driven games, etc. This love of gaming has followed me throughout life but has come and gone at different times depending on the stage of life I was in at the time. This love of gaming, and more specifically historical wargaming, is what lead me to the world of content creation. The story goes, and is now probably a bit apocryphal as it was nearly 8 years ago, that we were sitting around discussing gaming with our gaming group at the time and someone said it would be a good idea to start a blog. I laughed in my head thinking to myself why in the world would anyone ever read what I write, especially on something as relatively obscure as wargaming. But, we put that fear and doubt behind us and simply created a website on WordPress and gave it a shot. I still remember our first post. In fact, our first post was on April 17, 2016 and was a very short AAR on our first attempt at playing Empire of the Sun from GMT Games (I look at the pictures we used in that AAR and notice that the counters were not clipped! Barbarians!). We still laugh to this day that that was one of our first games we tried to cover. I guess we both like diving into the deep end of the pool! From those meager beginnings, we have posted lots to date, gone into videos as well, and I think have improved the overall quality of our content since that first try. So my favorite part of Content Creation is playing the games and then sharing them with our readers and viewers.
But I also love to write! I am not a great writer, and sometimes struggle to make the language in my mind jump onto the page to convey the feelings that I have about a game, mechanic or designer. But nonetheless, I do love to try. I am wordy, as you can tell if you have read any of my writing, and love to be very detailed and get lots of points down on paper (or digital) to help someone understand what I am seeing or feeling. I learned how to write as a kid when I would regularly write up descriptions for dungeons that I was stocking for Dungeons & Dragons to run my younger brother and myself through. I enjoyed creating the characters, naming them, giving them a back story and a motivation in that story, and then trying to have them all coexist in an underground dungeon that wasn’t all that pleasant. That was a great training ground for me. I then learned more about writing from my fantastic Sophomore English teacher in High School Mr. Roberts who pushed me to have structure in my writing and to create convincing and well thought out arguments to prove whatever thesis I was putting out there. I feel that my writing has improved over the years, and since writing for the blog, has improved even that much more but I do have a long way to go and will continue to work on that craft to become more proficient. I admire many other content creators out there who have a very easy style and tell great stories to bring home points or illustrate concepts. Some of these include SpaceBiff and Amabel Holland, both whom I consider to be excellent writers!
This content creation thing has provided us with lots of opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have access to. For example, because I have been able to reach out to various designers and publishers to do written interviews on the blog over the past 7 years, I have made contacts with lots of folks and many of them have become fast friends. When I see them at conventions, it is always enjoyable to catch up. I have also had the opportunity to demo many in-design prototype games that I normally would not have been able to see until they were published, either at conventions such as GenCon or WBC but also as these designers have reached out to me and entrusted us with an early prototype to play and either create a preview or to simply give honest feedback and critique. These opportunities have come because of the weekly and monthly effort of reaching out and asking to discuss games. We even have had the opportunity on 2 different occasions to play games with one of our favorite designers Mark Herman. First in 2018 at WBC, we played an early prototype copy of Versailles 1919 from GMT Games and it was simply glorious. We next got a chance to play a prototype copy of Fall of Saigon at WBC in 2019.
The final thing that I will throw out there as a thing that I love as a content creator is the community. I love the wargaming community and all of its members. Each time I meet and play with new people, I am amazed at how amazing each of you are. From your passion for history, to your generally easy going and fun personalities, I love to meet with other wargamers. Because we create content, making dozens of videos per month, you know our faces, and in some cases our voices as someone recently stated they had heard us and came to say hello. And we sincerely love it when you approach us at a convention to interact. We have always taken great pride in knowing you guys and will continue to try and meet as many of you as is possible. I also love the community on social media. Mainly seen on Twitter, there is always a good or even zany conversation just a few posts away. In fact, a few months back, I saw one of our fellow content creators Russ Wetli with Cardboard Conflicts post a tweet about a milestone they had reached. I am proud to say I was the first to comment on the tweet and offer my heartfelt congratulations. Others jumped in but then the thread took a turn for the worse as it devolved into an avalanche of off topic comments and memes that everyone was interreacting with and having a good time over. That thread was an example of how great the community is and just how close knit we are, even though most of us have never met each other! Maybe that is why we are close knit because we don’t know each other…but who knows.
Such a strong word, but there are plenty of things that I dislike about content creation. None of these things have ever caused me to consider giving it up but they are ever-present and cannot be ignored.
The tyranny of content is something that never leaves us (this is a phrase that I borrowed from our good friend Harold Buchanan of Liberty or Death fame). We are always thinking about the next video, post or new series to highlight some great aspect of the wargaming hobby. We get together regularly to play games but we are always thinking ahead. In fact, we have at least 50 videos scheduled ahead through the end of the year and even though this is the case, we will meet up this week again and play a game or two. I worry a lot about the amount of content that I have on the blog. 3-4 posts per week is usually what I can get to but there have been several times over the past 6 1/2 years that I have gone extended periods of time having a post on the blog every single day. This accomplishment took up a lot of my free time and frankly wasn’t necessary but it goes to illustrate the point that I am making. There is a certain sense of addiction to content and to sharing. I love doing it. I love to see others enjoying what I share. And if it helps someone decide to try a game, think about something or learn something new then the obsession was well worth it. And that is the motivation that keeps me going.
As most people do who find some modicum of success, I struggle with imposter syndrome. I know myself and I know what I know and more importantly what I don’t know. And as a content creator, people look to me to know something about what they are interested in. Whether it be a single game, a long revered series or a specific designer or mechanic. We are seen as authority figures on wargames. I struggle with this as there are sometimes that I just have to say, “I don’t know about that”. Or “I haven’t played that game”. I just can’t accept that people think I am an inexhaustible repository of gaming knowledge and experience and more importantly that my opinion matters. I know that the opinion is about a hobby but still it is a bit of a stretch to think that I am somehow seen in this light. I am flattered but always wonder when people will see behind the mirage and leave the blog and YouTube channel in droves in the wake of their disappointment. I know I am probably blowing this aspect up but that is really how it feels. Like Big Bird trying to fit into the entourage of Darth Vader. Hahahahahaha. I can’t stop laughing at that thought.
The final thing that I hate about content creation is having to say no. Now that we have a good sized following, on YouTube especially with nearly 15,000 subscribers, we have a space in the wargame market and are seen as influencers. Because of this, we get a continual barrage of emails asking if we would consider playing and reviewing a game for an upcoming Kickstarter, prelaunch or simply to provide feedback and input. I never mind someone asking. It is nice and a bit flattering but I really hate having to say no. I feel bad about not being able to play every game. And I know how much work they have put into their game and they just want some help getting the word out. But we have a limited amount of time. And we also have a lot of published games to play so we do say no a fair amount. I really dislike those emails back to these requests. I always feel like I am crushing their dreams and that they will be mad about it and tell everyone they know how we blew them off. Please don’t anyone every think about this and not ask us. We love to be asked but sometimes unfortunately just have to say no.
So I hope you took this with a grain of salt and enjoyed my journey through the world of content creation. I do really love it and have a great time playing games and then talking about them. What are your thoughts on the matter?