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You’ll Get Left Out, and That’s Totally Cool

There are a number of projects I think are awesome that part of me wishes I could have participated in. Seeing Leonard Balsera listed on Titansgrave gave me a twinge of that. It would have been cool to work on the Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition Technocracy stuff. Anything involving the Dragon Age tabletop RPG. Josh Roby’s Renny Jennys/Steampunk Ports of Call, which I helped spark in his mind. Being a stretch goal for John Harper’s Blades in the Dark. (To be utterly clear: not that I have any time for any more projects, so this isn’t me publicly fishing.) And I’ve had a couple people mention they wished they could have been in Katanas & Trenchcoats.

Here’s the thing: there’s always going to be stuff you’re left out of, and if you are always bummed by that, you’re going to drive yourself into depression. You aren’t going to be everyone’s #1, #2, or even #10 pick. And even if you’re someone’s #1 or #3 pick today, things change: new stars rise, agendas shift, people looking for fresher faces, you don’t match the style they’re going for, etc. Sometimes there’s even personality conflicts behind the scenes that you’re not aware of—that’s in fact a massive issue in tabletop game production culture.

When you see something you wish you could have been a part of, instead of being bummed, think this: Hell yeah, I get to be a fan of something amazing. It’s healthier for the psyche. It’s playing life on co-op mode rather than feeling like you’re in competition. That, and people are always on the lookout for collaborators or freelancers, and a positive vibe is a lot more attractive than a disappointed one.

That, and sometimes what we really want is to have participated and have our name on a thing rather than to actually be involved in the production. I’ve learned from bitter experience that having your name on a game that’s even three years old isn’t worth all that much alone; that requires an alchemy of popularity (which is its own beast) and people involved willing to promote you personally (which isn’t something you can expect from some publishers). Not every credit is worth the stress that comes with it or the bridges that end up getting burned in the process, which brings me back to it being genuinely nice to get to be a fan of something amazing without any scars from it.

– Ryan

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8 Responses to You’ll Get Left Out, and That’s Totally Cool

  1. +1. Thank you. I needed that today. :)

  2. Jesse says:

    I’ve had the “left out” feeling most of my life, not just with gaming or professional stuff. It’s one of my personal issues that I struggle with all the time!

    Your advice really hits home for all of it actually. I try to let people know I’m fan of the stuff, especially if I wish I was apart of it.

    Thank you.

  3. Ed Gibbs says:

    This is just one of many reasons why, despite being gainfully employed as a writer/editor, I don’t want to work in tabletop gaming…I love it too damn much!

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about feeling like you’re missing out on opportunities, not self-imposed refusal.

      – Ryan

  4. What’s good about Dragon Age RPG? Really, I’m curious.

  5. I hope, once I could become, at least, 100th to ask to work on something…

  6. Kenneth Hite says:

    I loved “playing life on co-op mode.” Great metaphor.