“TTRPG twitter is a mess,” is a thing you’ll hear everyone in ttrpgs say at some point. The broad strokes are that people talk past each other, that twitter is built as an engine for fame, not as a tool for building community. Some of these are problems with social media in general, some of them are problems with twitter or the ttrpg community and it’s micromunities specifically. Here’s a list of habits I’m trying to form in order to push back against the form’s worst tendencies in order to better communicate with everyone in the ttrpg world.
D&D is the broader culture in RPGs. It’s the lingua franca of the tabletop rpg world. There’s a good chance that the person you’re responding to is from a completely different D&D tradition with different goals, contexts, procedures, language, and superstitions than you. Try and understand before you engage.
Virality is the perfect word here. If you’re tired of seeing some content, don’t talk about it. If you do, you just give it more air to breathe. You get follow up questions like “I missed the drama can someone tell me what’s going on?” Hit the mute button if someone has opinions you disagree with so vehemently that you are thinking about them more than two minutes after seeing them.
Have you met this person irl? Have you communicated with them online extensively? Are you engaging with them in a meaningful way or just using them as a punching bag to trot out your pet theories about lethality in dungeon design? Twitter encourages this behavior because divisive opinions increase engagement which keeps people addicted to their platform. Push back.
The reward for dunking on nerds will often be likes and retweets and follows. This is bad. Push back against it. It will be much harder to build a following this way. But some things just need to be harder.
“The biggest problem is the quote retweet,” Goldman told BuzzFeed News. “Quote retweet allows for the dunk. It’s the dunk mechanism.”
– “The Man Who Built The Retweet: “We Handed A Loaded Weapon To 4-Year-Olds””
I get a decent amount of traction when I talk about layout and graphic design. That’s my area of expertise. If you’re a designer, or playtester, or player, or GM, or retailer, or whatever — talk about things you’ve learned. Bare minimum you’re contributing something personal. The ttrpg discourse is a potluck. Even if you bring ice you’re bringing something. Don’t show up empty handed to the party and start opining about everyone else’s dishes.
A lot of people will read that last one and say “but I’m not good at anything.” You’ll have to figure that one out on your own, but until then-— there’s a lot of people out there that are doing good stuff. Sharing their work and talking about what resonated with you is a good thing. We need way more of this and literally anyone can do it.
Twitter is ephemeral, which leads people to act in a way they wouldn’t if they felt like their words were going to be etched in stone forever.
Collect your thoughts, put them up somewhere for people to comment on. You can give context. Permanence matters. You stand by what you say. People can comment and those comments can be read. This can actually create a conversation. Some of the best ttrpg content in the last ten years is specifically a result of the cross pollination between blogs. Be a part of that conversation.
There are are incredibly specific instances where public shaming can be a societal good. This very rarely comes up in everyday rpg twitter discourse. It feels soooooo good to retweet some spicy hot take about, I don’t know, character sheet design, but remember that there are always real humans on the other end who often aren’t public personalities accustomed to dealing with the mobs of hate the internet so efficiently fuels and directs on a daily basis. You’re piling on some Dungeon Master from North Dakota who runs games after school. Or a graphic designer from a struggling start up. Be graceful.
If you’re working in this industry, twitter can be addictive because it feels like work (marketing) in the same way that walking to your car feels like exercise. But twitter is the empty calorie of discussion. I don’t think Kevin Crawford is on any discernible social media platform that I’m aware of and that dude is basically the Stephen king of RPGs.
The old joke is basically that no one plays RPGs, we just buy them and then talk about them. I get it, playing is hard. Hard to schedule, hard to show up for, hard to do. But talk is cheap, and twitter is 99% talk. I’m trying to be mindful of that.
Finally, I am guilty of all of these things. But you now know this is something I’m trying to work on, so you should always feel free to gently remind me when I’m falling short of who I want to be if you see that I’m acting in an inappropriate way on twitter. I’d really appreciate it.
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