While certainly not a novel concept to union organizers, protesters, and political activists, indie RPGs have recently seen an explosion of experimentation in collective action and activism. Group charity projects like Dissident Whispers and Postcards From Cable Street leverage donated RPG work to raise money for political causes. Communities organizing around geographic regions, game genres and hobby sub-niches push for collective betterment and financial opportunities: RPGSEA with Our Shores and the Session Zero Con, the recent LATAM game jam, and the 3rd party Mothership community to name a few.
Having seen the power of collective action on projects like Dissident Whispers firsthand, I wanted to write an article on community building and RPG activism. It doesn't take any special knowledge or connections to jump in and enact significant change: All it takes is a will to begin and dedication to see it though. You can create the next Dissident Whispers or carve a sustainable financial niche for you and your peers, and I hope to outline clear steps for making that happen.
Mothership and Zine Quest 3
|All content from the bundle—from 10 contributors!|
Building Your Own Communities
- Where does your community live? Maybe it's staged in a closed Discord server, or lives freely as a Twitter hashtag.
- Is your community private or public? In my experience, effective communities are private, small, and tightly focused. Public Discord servers can loosely function as communities, but they tend to be diffuse of purpose and less safe for discussion than vetted spaces.
- How will you recruit? What are the entry requirements, if any? The larger a private community gets, the more it will benefit from explicit membership rules.
- What is your community philosophy? Are you a work collective, activist group, artistic movement, or something else? What are your long term goals? Is this also a place for people to hang out, or are you laser focused on the work? Write a mission statement and put it somewhere for all members to see.
- Launch a group project like a zine (detailed in the next section).
- Organize a fundraising event like a bundle or time-coordinated sale of community members' works.
- Host community workshops and brainstorming sessions. Ask for feedback on your own personal projects to break the ice.
- Organize marketing campaigns for each other's work. Schedule a flurry of releases to hit physical webstores together, or work around each other's release schedules to space things apart. Find ways to leverage your collective power.