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Immersion or drowning? Walking the hot coals of PBM gaming!
As I begin to immerse myself a bit further in several different games, simultaneously, I notice that a fear of drowning has begun to creep upon me.

How much is too much? How fast and how far can one swim the waters of learning the rules of PBM games and their ancestral descendants that now populate the map of play by mail gaming in the modern age?

Is it better to mater one game, before moving on to another? Or should one whet one's appetite for something with some PBM flavor, even at the risk of trying more than one game, simultaneously?

I can't imagine how David Webber, the editor of Paper Mayhem magazine, managed to find time to learn and to play a variety of play by mail games, back in the day, back when that magazine was a driving force on the PBM scene. How does one balance it all? How does one juggle not just playing games and publishing a PBM magazine, but negotiating the learning process for multiple games, as well, and all at the same time, at that?

Just now, as I was typing this posting, my computer notified me that my user account on the Takamo forum has been reactivated.

And Omega did stir in the quantum, once more!

Now, where was I, again?

Ah, yes - where does one find time for it all, for digesting rules and playing games and publishing a magazine, all three?

I don't have to chart this course through the rough seas of PBM gaming. I could simply choose another way. I could choose to limit myself more, and tackle one game at a time. For that matter, I could simply fore go playing games, at all, and just focus my attention and my efforts upon publishing the magazine, Suspense & Decision, instead.

I could - but I choose not to.

I firmly believe that the magazine will be a better end product, if I am able to write articles first-hand about playing in this game or that one. Game moderators and game companies always seem to want lots of people playing their games, but I can tell you this - many are the obstacles and impediments that stand in the way of people just joining right in and playing. The more of a pain in the ass that it is, or the more time-consuming that it proves to be to the person who has zero degree of familiarity with the games in question, the less likely that people will be, I think, to become a permanent part of the respective player communities for the various games on offer. This, I think, is a fundamental lesson that game companies and game moderators would be well served to take to heart, for there remains VAST room for improvement in this area - and I think that it is one of the most important areas of all.

Of course, in the realm of play by mail and its ancestral descendants, of which there are many, there are many different hot coals on which to burn ones feet. If the PBM industry is not to be consumed by the sands of time, and if it is to push back against the forces that seem Hell-bent on consigning it to the dustbin of history, then walk upon the hot coals, we must, it seems.

Numerous re-works on PBM games are either underway or completed - some in more complete form than others, it seems. Aside from modernizing the interfaces and delivery systems of old PBM games, though, what entirely new play by mail games are either in planning or under construction, already? Since the vast bulk of the remaining PBM player base across the industry is collecting years as if there was a gold rush on aging, what new and creative PBM fare is being rolled out to attract younger players? What is the long term fate of the industry?

Or does the industry even have a long term fate, going forth?

In the old days, there was lots of buzz - always lots of buzz - in and about and across the PBM industry. These days, not so much. How best, then, to tackle the scenario that the PBM hobby and the PBM industry now finds itself facing?

To create buzz, there has to be word to spread. That much strikes me as being rather obvious on its face. Yet, how much time and energy and effort is CURRENTLY being expended by the PBM industry on advertising and on creating ads, which lie at the base of their advertising efforts? More hot coals to walk across, it seems, if you ask me.

In fairness though, I'm not usually the one being asked. They all have their theories. We all have our theories. I have my own theories on it all, as do many of you out there, I'm certain.

Whatever else may be said about the current state of affairs in the PBM industry, I do think that it is accurate to say that there still exists much potential energy to be harnessed in the ranks of PBM players scattered across the face of the play by mail hobby. A lot of that potential is simply never being harnessed and put to use, much less exploited to its maximum potential.

With Suspense & Decision magazine, I attempt to harness a relatively small fraction of that potential energy - that potential PBM energy. Not everything that I try works equally well, of course, and the magazine itself has faced its own set of challenges on multiple occasions, to include the challenge of just trying to stay alive. For now, though, the worst of that particular danger seems to have passed (Knock on wood!), as the magazine is clicking on all cylinders, once again.

A few people contribute articles to Suspense & Decision magazine on a recurring basis, but the hot coals of persuading even more people to become regular, recurring contributors is a path that must be walked.

Time stands in the way of it all. The passage of time causes us to age, and there just never quite seems to be enough time to get it all done. This is a common malady, this creature called time, that spreads its contagion across the face of the entire industry. Game companies, game moderators, and the players, themselves, are all in a constant, never-ending battle with time.

Hopefully, I won't end up drowning myself, as I trek down the path of trying more games, in my bid to make the magazine a better read. If I do, though, just toss my editorial corpse to the side, as you encounter it, and keep pushing forward, no matter what.

Ever forward!

Because every other direction is the wrong way.
It's nearly impossible to try and play all the PBM games at once, even if there were only a handful worth playing. So much of what makes PBM fun (for me) is the level of detail the game provides. Trying to do that with more than one or two games would make it impossible (for me) to do. The other problem is the length of the time commitment involved, if all you want to do is review the game.

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