Today, Accessible Games celebrates its 100th post. That’s a big accomplishment for any blog, and it’s certainly been a long time coming for this one — over 3 years, in fact. Since it’s a pretty big milestone, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on where the blog has been, where it is today, and where it’s going in the future.
Accessible Games’ first post was Neue Land: First Impressions on July 10th, 2010. It represents the initial goal for the blog: to review boardgames and RPGs with a focus on accessibility. Even to this day, I continue to focus on accessibility when I write reviews for games; it’s an important topic to me and one I feel is increasingly relevant as we bring more and more players into the hobby.
Unfortunately I don’t get a lot of time these days to play boardgames, so I haven’t been spending much time reviewing them lately. Still, you can see all of the First Impressions and Reviews I have written by browsing the appropriate categories:
The Old Domain
The blog hasn’t always had its AccessibleGames.biz domain name. Originally it was a subdomain of CasaWood.com, which a family member owned. I started the blog not knowing how long it would last or how far it would take me, so I wasn’t prepared to drop money on web hosting and a TLD of my own. He had plenty of unlimited hosting space and bandwidth and offered to set up a WordPress installation for me to play with, so that’s what I used for a long time (until only about a year or so ago, in fact).
During that time, I wasn’t writing as much and didn’t have as much traffic. In the beginning, I didn’t even keep up a once monthly posting schedule, yet alone multiple posts per week. I didn’t have an audience, so who was I letting down by not posting? It wasn’t until later when I finally (and begrudgingly, I admit) joined the social networking world that people finally started coming.
Becoming a Publisher
I didn’t always want to be an RPG publisher. Originally, the name “Accessible Games” was devised for a brick and mortar game store that I would one day open (spoiler alert: I still do not run such a store).
As of 2011 I had been working on Psi-punk for about a year, and it was really coming along well. I decided to turn it into a full-fledged game book instead of just a jumble of notes on my computer, and that’s when I made the decision to join the publishing arena. I find that I actually really love everything about being a publisher, an author, a game designer, and a layout guy, and I feel like this is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
At that time I started a different blog specifically for the game of Psi-punk, which upon reflection may have been a sub-optimal decision. I now operate two different blogs: one for Psi-punk (http://psi-punk.accessiblegames.biz) and one for everything else Accessible Games does. It would be easier overall to have everything in one place, but I don’t want to lose my readers who follow that blog by switching all Psi-punk related posts to this one. Also, quite frankly, Blogger’s analytical data is way better than that whicch is built into WordPress, and keeping them separate does allow me to track who’s reading what.
At any rate, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Psi-punk and ever since then have been picking up the pace on treating Accessible Games as an actual business, rather than a hobby blog that nobody’s bothering to read anyway.
The New Blog
In October 2012 I took a college course on using Joomla, a website CMs similar (in some ways) to WordPress. At that time I decided to use my student loans to help pay for web hosting and a domain of my own, and I used that space to host my class projects until the end of the term. After the course ended I immediately dropped using Joomla (because, ew) and picked up WordPress again. But now I had a bonafied domain and my own web host, so I moved everything from the CasaWood site and gave the blog the skin you see today.
Since then, I have been posting regular content about all manner of gaming, game publishing, and accessibility-related topics. Though the number of reviews has slowed considerably, I have attempted to make up for that with regular series such as Why Fudge is a Great Accessible RPG and Game Publishing Lessons Learned (which you can also get as an eBook).
As I learned more and more about what it takes to be a publisher and produce RPG books, I decided to spend some of my time and energy on educating other publishers. When I started out, I scoured the Internet for every morsel of information I could find about the business. Unfortunately, I never really found the very specific, detailed information I wanted to know. Nobody was talking about details, and every time I heard a publisher give advice for aspiring publishers it was always the same: “just get to know people and, uh, you know, do stuff.”
That’s why I sat down with my friend Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games to have a frank discussion about the Business of Game Publishing. Finally, I got to hear from an actual publisher about actual business matters related to RPG publishing. It was oustanding (and I recommend checking out the video).
I also, of course, wrote the Game Publishing Lessons Learned series (mentioned above) to help give a detailed, step-by-step overview of the entire process of publishing an RPG via Kikstarter, complete with very real and personal data to back it all up. To date, the series is still one of my most-read and best-received.
That isn’t all though. I really wanted to let publishers know that it’s both easy and important to make accessible PDFs. After all, this wouldn’t be Accessible Games without a focus on accessibility. I wrote the How to Bookmark and Tag PDFs for Accessibility tutorial to serve that very purpose. I’m also very pleased to say that the tutorial was well-received, which gives me a lot of faith that publishers really are open to the idea of making their games more accessible, but they perhaps just don’t know what tools they needed to do so.
A few miscellaneous posts later and that brings us to the present. About 3 months ago I began posting regular weekly updates about Monster Kart Mayhem in a series entitled Monster Kart Monday. Unlike on the Psi-punk blog, I decided to keep all of the MKM updates in one place. With the eminent release of the game’s Kickstarter campaign in October, I thought it was a good idea to really start discussing it openly. It will be the second big release from Accessible Games as a publishing company, and I’m really excited about it.
All of the constant MKM updates was making me feel like a self-serving publisher again though, so I also came up with a more every-gamer-oriented series called Off the Cuff, a GM advice article about gaming without borders.
And that brings us to the very present day. As of Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, we had our 99th post and I am proud to say it was from our very first guest blogger. Off the Cuff #3, provided by Phil Vechione (author of the award-winning book “Never Unprepared”). When I announced that I was planning this series, Phil was quick to ask about contributing with a guest post. It was a great feeling to know I’d hit upon something that others were interested enough to contribute to, and he wrote a really wonderful piece.
Monster Kart Monday has been a weekly part of the blog for almost 3 months now, but it won’t always be a regular series (at least, I suspect it won’t be). Even though I plan to support Monster Kart Mayhem for a long time to come, I suspect the weekly updates will trail off as I have other things to write about regularly. This series isn’t going away for now–certainly not before the end of the Kickstarter campaign–but nothing is designed to be a permanent fixture.
For the time being, the new Off the Cuff series is going strong and I anticipate it lasting for quite a bit longer. There’s a lot to be said about GMing without borders, and there have been a lot of great comments, suggestions, ideas, and general discussion around the topics of these articles. I’ll continue to write Off the Cuff articles for the foreseeable future, but will eventually replace it as well.
I have mostly moved my review writing to The Gamer Effect, where I can contribute them less frequently but to a blog with lots of authors. I like the more mainstream exposure the reviews can get on that website. Of course the reviews will still focus on accessibility, which means I can bring up that topic with a larger auddience. That’s a good thing.
So what else is coming down the pipe? After Monster Kart Mayhem launches, I’ll get back to a few other projects I have on the far back burner right now. I am simultaneously developing MKM and Psi-punk: Corps and Criminals right now, but those aren’t the only two books I have in mind. Perhaps you, dear readers, would like a chance to influence what comes next? Here’s a list of a few ideas I have simmering. What would you like to see in the future?
More Monster Kart Mayhem. This is a given. It’s happening. I’m not stopping just because the product launches. But the core development will be complete, and additional supplements will come out fairly regularly for the foreseeable future.
Psi-punk: Valkyrie Protocol. A Plot Point-style campaign for Psi-punk, featuring secret government experiments designed to create nigh-immortal soldiers.
Raising Ragnarok, a Norse-themed RPG and Plot Point-style campaign in which players are tasked with bringing about the end of the world… for the good of mankind.
Unnamed “Fantasy Punk” setting. A Pathfinder (probably) setting that takes common cyberpunk tropes and turns them into high fantasy elements. This isn’t Shadowrun, it’s the inverse; what if mega-guilds ruled the land and gnomes replaced their body parts with golemware?
Alliterative Amusements. Pathfinder micro-supplements on a very wide range of topics, with titles that include the “Archon Archive,” “Conjurer’s Compendium,” “Goblinoid Guidebook,” “Abjurer’s Appendix,” etc.
Six Pillars, a decade long-brewing setting, originally developed for D&D 3rd Edition but easy to convert to Pathfinder, Fudge, Fate, or other systems. The idea is that our world is full of cultures who have very similar religions, with different ways we tell the same stories and different names we give our deities. What if a fantasy world had the same thing going for it?
It’s been nice to take a bit of time for nostalgia and reflection, but it’s time to get back to looking forward. Expect the same high-quality content coming out of the blog in the future. I hope to maintain a regular release schedule because I love connecting with people on a regular basis, and because it feels good to maintain that momentum.
Here’s to the next 100, and may it not take 3 years to get there!