PBM Food For Thought

Where now, PBM?

PBM gaming continues to suffer from under-exposure. This is true both outside PBM circles, as well as within and across the current PBM player base. There are various causes for this, of course, and there is no magical cure all for what ails the play by mail gaming industry and hobby.

On the media front, PBM gaming continues to fly well beneath the radar of the media at large, and even within the PBM community, itself, Suspense & Decision magazine has foundered, but worse than that, no replacement or substitute is in sight. Collectively, this has all the makings of a disaster, for it limits PBM’s ability to get itself in the public eye.

For a moment, forget the media. Forget S&D. Forget particular PBM personalities. Focus, instead, upon two core, underlying concepts – namely, energy and enthusiasm. Where are they?

No, seriously, where are they? If you were tasked with tracking them down, then where are their respective centers of gravity in and across PBMdom right this very moment in time? Could you find them, even if you tried?

Until and unless those two things manifest themselves more broadly across the hobby, PBM gaming growth will continue to be stale and uninspiring. Where are the greatest sources of PBM energy? Where do the greatest repositories of PBM enthusiasm lie?

Over the last several decades, a number of different things have been tries. A variety of different initiatives have been undertaken, yet play by mail gaming all too often remains perceived as being on life support – aka barely hanging on. Thus, what is the solution to this ongoing dilemma?

Is it time to give up? Are you ready to throw in the towel? Are your arms up in surrender, already? Well, if not, then what are you waiting for? If PBM gaming’s fate is, indeed, to just die off, to wither on the vine, so to speak, then why not just let it go, and walk off into the sunset?

Of course, some might well venture to say that they’ve been walking over the grave of PBM gaming for many a year, now, and that the rest of us need to join them in coming to the start realization that there is no hope for PBM. It’s lineal descendants, the technological offspring of original postal-only play by mail games, have failed. They did not ensure the survival of the hobby. The growth that they envisioned has simply failed to materialize. Why do you suppose that is?

We all have our opinions, of course, and you know what they say about opinions. No need to repeat that old adage here. But seriously, why do you think that PBM’s lineal descendants have failed to hit the mark?

Suspense & Decision started off well enough, I suppose. The first ten months yielded issues pretty much like clockwork. I know, because I was there. Yet, it too eventually tumbled off a cliff (several times, in fact), and it’s still not back on track, and even when it was up and running, it failed to produce the results desired. PBM gaming is still pretty much in the same boat that it was.

What, then, is the answer? Or is there even an answer to be found? What can be tried that hasn’t already been tried? No Chosen One has appeared on the PBM horizon. No savior is in sight. No solution has manifested itself before our very eyes. So, what now? Where now, brown PBM cow?

When all else fails, return to the basics. By this, I mean the basics of our thinking. Energy. Enthusiasm, Persistence. Innovation. Etc., etc., etc.m ad nauseum.

Because if you stop and think about it, those core things form the foundation of what a successful and thriving PBM gaming genre are built atop. If the PBM building that we’re all in is crumbling, then perhaps it is high time that we take a long, hard look at its foundation.

It’s too much work for one person. That much should be plainly obvious by now. Yet, everyone’s schedule varies widely, from person to person across the PBM spectrum. Who has time to promote PBM as a whole, when their own PBM ship is sinking, and they’ve got their hands full sticking fingers in the holes of their PBM dam which is leaking like a sieve?

Enter Sandman.

In other words, enter this new approach, this new Suspense & Decision blog, one hopefully populated by a variety of different authors and contributors. For the PBM faithful, they’ll be able to get their hands on articles about play by mail gaming as they come down the pike. No more waiting for that next issue of S&D! Rather, future issues of Suspense & Decision magazine will be comprised largely of articles that have already seen the light of day on this blog.

Say what?! Who? What? Huh?

Stay with me, and I’ll explain. Think about it. It’s kind of like a production line. Articles that already exist, articles that have already been written, should make publication of a PBM magazine quicker, easier, and more reliable. The articles on the blog are for PBM gamers at the cutting edge of PBM progress. S&D magazine then becomes more a tool of promotion to those who lie beyond the central core of PBM gaming’s most ardent and faithful.

It’s not that each future issue of Suspense & Decision magazine can’t contain any new or fresh or heretofore unseen articles about PBM gaming to grace the pages between front and back covers. Rather, what this approach should hopefully do is to provide a ready-made skeleton to attach final parts/portions thereto. That, in a nutshell, is the basic concept quickly explained.

Can it work? Will it work? Could it help?

Notably, not every article that appears on this Suspense & Decision blog will necessarily make it into issues of Suspense & Decision magazine. It would largely depend upon how many articles get submitted, going forward. If no one will write articles, then neither this blog nor S&D magazine will succeed and thrive. If individuals can’t be persuaded to participate, if people simply can’t (or won’t) take the time to write articles, at all, then how could this new concept realistically ever be expected to succeed?

It has been said that with faith as a grain of mustard seed, mountains can be moved. Standing in the way of a bright and prosperous future for play by mail gaming is a mountain of lack of progress. Care to help me try and move that mountain?

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