Jun 082010
 

Before I begin this article, I have to give credit to my brother, who I stole the idea from.  Certainly he’s not the first to use social networking in this way, but he is the one who showed me.

In the past I would often try to keep my players up to date on my game sessions with e-mail.  Just a quick note to let everyone know, “game is on this Friday” or “sorry guys, I need to cancel”.  Eventually this evolved into a good way for players to ask me questions.  I could work out some character background information, clarify rules, etc.  It was just a little later on, still early in my gaming career, that a friend running a LARP introduced me to Yahoo! Groups.  He had too many players and needed a good way to get both in character and out of character information to the lot of them.

Yahoo! Groups provided a way to upload pictures, post stories, recaps, whatever a GM might need to do, but the format was always a little clunky.  Posts, threads, and e-mails were cluttered and often delayed publishing for several hours after submitted.  But the biggest problem was that the users had to go to a site they otherwise never use.  I had plenty of players who never visited some of my game Groups because they just didn’t take the time to visit websites outside of their normal routine, even though they showed up to each play session on a weekly basis.

Plays by Post games suffer these issues as well.  Though both can have e-mail notifications of posts, those updates hardly offer the same quality of experience as the actual site.  Days stretch on and on between posts because players just never happen to check the site.  It can kill a scene or totally ruin a campaign.

Enter Facebook. Alright, it kills me to promote anything relating to this soul drinking succubus of a website that has no concern or compassion for its user base, but odds are you use it anyways.  Inspired by my younger brother, I recently started a Play by Post game on Facebook, which has been fantastically successful so far.  I think the reason the game has done so well is painfully obvious, Facebook sucks you in.  You already check a few times a week, maybe every day, maybe several hundred times a day.  You already waste so much time on the site playing Mafiafarmvampireorgyville.  Now, if you see that there’s an update on your campaign, why wouldn’t you just click it and take a look?

This is only my first time using Facebook as a vehicle for Play by Post, but it has everything I need so far.

  • By creating a new group on Facebook, I can make it private or open it up to spectators if I so choose.
  • The Discussion threads are great for actual gameplay and side scenes/conversations.
  • The Photos section allows me to upload maps, PC or NPC portraits, monster art, item “cards”, etc.
  • I have a quick way to get in touch with everyone in the group by simply posting to the main page or sending a Facebook private message.
  • Posts go up immediately when I submit them, and responses notify me just as quick when they go up.  Get a group of people as addicted as I am and you’d almost have a real time game.
  • I can create a growing list to track locations or NPCs the party has encountered.  Both for my benefit and to keep the players aware of who they know and where they are.
  • Facebook Groups feature a recognizable and easy to read layout.  Almost all of my players are in other groups for their various interests, so there is nothing new to teach.

Afterword

I plan to start a new tabletop campaign soon and I absolutely intend to create a Facebook page for that game as well.  I still think that if you haven’t already been consumed by the Facebook beast, you should probably stay away while you yet remain pure.  However, if already you are forced to toil hour after hour reading your friend’s bad jokes and inappropriate updates on their love life, why not get some gaming done?

[tag]Facebook, Play by Post, RPG, role playing, games[/tag]

About Nick Nundahl

I'm a wild haired demi-viking living on the East Coast United States. I've run games in countless systems and tanked more game nights than I've ever run successfully, but hopefully I learned a lot in the process and I'd like to pass that on. Follow me on Twitter.

  13 Responses to “An Unexpected Online Gaming Aid”

  1. Fucking genius

  2. “Mafiafarmvampireorgyville”

    Epic!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RPG Bloggers Network and Scott wachter, Troll in the Corner. Troll in the Corner said: An Unexpected Online Gaming Aid  ( http://bit.ly/9EY3Md ) Using social networks to facilitate gaming. #rpg #dnd […]

  4. I love it when innovative gaming and technology meet! This is a great idea….love it!

  5. Har Har! It appears your brother is quite clever and that this article is definitively accurate. While I know both of our facebook games are in early stages, I am already very pleased with the site as a medium of gaming.

  6. And that is why facebook will continue to be so successful – it’s a damn convenient medium for gathering people together, whether it’s a vehicle for Play By Post or a way to coordinate my knitting group.

  7. Ooo, this might actually give me a reason to go back to that dump of a website.

    But really, don’t blame the succubi for that site. We had nothing to do with it.

  8. As a player in a play by post that tanked, probably mostly because I could never remember to check Yahoo groups, I have to say that posting on Facebook does make all the difference. Well done.

  9. Thanks everyone for posting. Over on Reddit, a few people recommended a couple of sites that are designed for running games and have some cool utilities. They still offer the same problem of requiring your players to visit elsewhere on the web, but they are cool.

    http://www.epicwords.com/
    http://www.obsidianportal.com/
    http://www.myth-weavers.com/forumhome.php

  10. I never used to go on face book, I usually only used it for creating events, but now i’m on it nearly 24-7 for the DnD game with the author and his brother.

  11. I’ve got mixed feelings about FB. One the one hand, it’s incredibly convenient and everyone and their mother (quite literally) knows about it and how to use it.

    On the other hand, it’s a leaking sieve of user data. Not that anyone’s RPG sessions are state secrets but other info they may not want or know is out there can be gotten if they don’t take the proper steps to secure their accounts.

    But then, I’m on the damned thing every day.

  12. As a participant in one of those PbP games, I can honestly say that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. This is the perfect way to game with friends over long distances and keep in touch. Got a question for the DM? Oh look, he’s online for chat. Easy as pie. Key Lime pie.

  13. ok so i know i am a little bit delayed in commenting on this post, however i just wanted to get everyone’s opinions on the FB..like i am keen to see, if everyone still holds the same opinions @ Nundahl i am an epic words addict… and FB is like my life lately, specially since the release of smart-phones.. We actually have no reason to not be in contact anymore

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