OK.. to borrow an expression from WoW... /sigh
The 3E vs. 4E battle that is going on in the metaverse is exhausting me. I just can't keep up. How am I supposed to get any work done people? LOL.
At some point, someone pointed to a fictitious conversation over at dungeon_grrl's blog. It was funny - and it made me think. It was the kind of post that just had that effect. It made me think specifically about the two magazines DRAGON and DUNGEON; and how WotC "reimagined them" into some sort of E-subscription service. But before I get into that, I want you to get some background on where I'm coming from.
Professionally speaking, I am a research scientist. In my field there are three big-hitter journals (so-called First Tier Journals). Who knows, you may have heard of them: Science, Nature and Cell. These journals publish the world's most cutting edge science; the kind of science that (supposedly) has the biggest impact on the human beings living in the world. The readership of the journals is massive - as in just about everyone "in science" reads them. Not surprisingly, these journals require a subscription from every single reader. Sure, your institution (where you work) may sponsor your subscription (as does mine), but the journals are still getting their money. And it is not cheap. What is worse is that a subscription is required for both the online-version and the print-version. For example, Nature charges about $200 per person per year. Science charges about $150/year. Like I said, it is not cheap.
Bear with me here, I'm about to make my point.
Well, a few years ago some scientists got together and said basically: "Hey! Knowledge should be free!" They were right too, so they started the Public Library of Science movement. Their goal was to turn the publishing industry on its head by creating a new journal (PLoS Biology) where the published results of world-class scientific research would be free to read for anyone who wanted it. They even published a manifesto, of sorts, that included a set of core principles for publishing research. It was the sort of pie-in-the-sky thinking that makes you feel all warm inside. It was not a new idea, at the time, but I was in grad' school still figuring things out. I do, however, remember thinking: This is AWESOME!
Well, there was loads of criticisms. All the major journals ran editorials that detracted from PLoS for years (and still do). It was downright dirty business. It would never work! said some, It's a stupid idea! said others, and You'll go broke! said still more. Well folks... it worked! It worked so well, that dozens of other journals have followed suite (except for the big three I mentioned above). The sea-change also made a ton of people pissed off too - mainly the elephant. You know, the elephant in the room? Money? Profits? Those people.
OK, now.. back to Dungeons & Dragons.
What if we did something similar? We, as in, the D&D fanbase. What if we created an gaming editorial board that reviewed submitted fan-generated material, selected it for "publication", and then published a monthly online magazine that was FREE for the rest of fandom to read and use in their games. We could even offer the alternative of real printed copies, using LuLu.com (or something similar) at cost. Game retailers around the world could use LuLu to print off as many copies as they wanted at cost; or even just print out the PDFs and offer them for free to their customers. The materials could be "system-neutral", or we could sign the GSL (or not) and simply be a 3rd party D&D eZine. I read the entire GSL today - so long as the whole magazine is D&D related (which would cut out other games of course). It really would not be as hard as you think it would be. It might even be fun. =D
OK, it would be hard - but it would be awesome if it worked!
Now, before you all start telling me that there are tons of these geek zines in existence already - I KNOW. And, I KNOW that there's the Enies (or however that is spelled), etc. This was just a idea-of-the-minute. A fusion of two unrelated aspects of my life: Science & D&D.
What do you think? Impossible? Or.. sign me up!
Final Note Added Later: I think WotC is going the route of the elephant, profits. And who can really blamed them, they have to - its a company and a company is made up of people, but it is NOT a person. Companies have to answer to shareholders; in this case HASBRO. I would not be surprised if, with their shrinking fan base, they cancel DRAGON and or DUNGEON completely in the next year or two. Oh, and by shrinking fan base, I mean to say that the growth of new players is likely smaller than the growth of new products - thus the demand for any one product (like a D&D Insider subscription) is going to be small. Why would I pay $15/month for FRCS updates, when I can buy Kenzer & Co in 1 shot. But I digress...