|A MESSAGE FROM W.J. WALTON|
Over the last couple of years, I've been getting many messages of concern from folks who have frequently read my site, due to the lack of updates and "under construction" pages that have greeted vistors when they arrive here. For the impatient types, I'll give you the TL;DR right up front - I'm doing perfectly fine, I've been very busy, the site isn't going anywhere, and there will be a few changes.
For those who like to read the long version, here goes:
I've been giving a lot of thought to the site, what purpose it can still provide today, and how much of my time I'm willing to put into it. When I started the site in 1995, role-playing games were still under fire from the news media and religious pundits. The Columbine massacre four years later brought a huge spike in visitors when local police blamed Vampire: The Masquerade (an RPG that the killers had never even played). Tons of religious websites warned of the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons, mostly cribbing their material from Patricia Pulling's early 80s diatribes. If a murder, suicide, or other crime involved someone suspected of being a D&D player - even if it was the victim - the news stories usually mentioned it as a possible smoking gun.
These days... not so much. Nothing, in fact. The only thing that shows up on the radar now is the occasional rant from Pat Robertson, and he can barely remember the name of that Dungeons game anymore. Stranger Things and the fifth edition of D&D have brought another popularity surge to the hobby. These days, when the media covers a D&D group at a school or library, it's to extol the benefits of socialization, problem solving, teamwork, and leadership skills that the hobby provides - and very often there are stories about gaming groups hosting fundraisers and doing other acts of good in their community. The handwringing, pearl-clutching satanic panic is gone. RPG defense simply isn't needed anymore, and the hobby has become a part of popular culture that is receiving the appreciation that it deserves.
We won. Yeah, I said it.
But that doesn't mean I'll be taking the site down, for a couple of reasons:
First, the history of the moral panic over RPGs is important. It's a mistake for us to learn from. It's a lesson in improving our critical thinking skills.
Second, there's other work to do. Promoting RPGs as educational tools in schools and libraries and as therapy, promoting and defending women's contibutions to the hobby, promoting LGBTQ+ participation and contributions, passing the tradition on to our new generations, and defending against racist, sexist, and homophobic sentiments that still plague the hobby.
I've been very, very busy with a lot of other creative projects (for the curious, most of them are here), so the amount of time I have for the site has been limited. I've continued to post regularly to the Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ feeds, usually articles and bits of gaming humor that I find. Right after the site turned 20 years old in 2015, I attempted to install a new content management system and hit a brick wall. Hundreds of my blog posts were lost, and a general frustration prevented me from getting everything straightened out.
But I'm not giving up. You don't maintain a website for over 20 years and then just let it go to hell. I'm planning to fix what I can gradually over the coming months, with what time I have to spare, and of course I'll continue to post to the social media feeds as I have been. All of the old content that I haven't lost will remain as a reference to the trials that the hobby has gone through, and new content will arrive, in time.
There is one substantial change that I'm going to make, and it's something I've been pondering for a long time now.
In 2005, right before the tenth anniversary of this site, another website with a similar name came along, this one mostly devoted to video gaming. I'm fairly certain that most everyone reading this is aware of the site I'm talking about. Since that time, it has been difficult to discuss the work that I've done here without others mistaking my site for that one - and in some cases, I've lost readers over controversial views expressed on that site that had nothing to do with mine. It's very difficult to devote so much time to a topic that you're passionate about, and to work toward making positive change, only to have everyone associate and attribute it to someone else.
So, I'm planning a "soft" name change. My gmail and Twitter accounts have been RPGadvocate for years now, so that seems like a fitting one. I'll keep the domain so that old links will find their destination, and make it a combination of the two - RPGadvocate @ theescapist.com
And that's the state of the site. I'm always open to comments, suggestions, and constructve criticism. Please send them to RPGadvocate@gmail.com, or DM me on Twitter @RPGadvocate. If anyone has any advice on how to recover old blog posts from Tikiwiki, I would be your best friend forever!
Thanks as always for your support, and remember - keep your dice dry, tip the pizza guy, and take a kid gaming!
May 16th, 2018