As some of you may know, I frequent BoardGameGeek.com, but mostly as a lurker rather than as a frequent poster. I have been this way when it comes to a lot of social media for a number of years, preferring to take in the available information, and weigh other people’s comments and arguments, rather than stirring the pot myself. There is one notable exception to this, and that comes in the Cthulhu Wars board game forum on BGG, and I remember the exact reason that brought me out of my shell for that community.
It all started when Green Eye Games initially announced (with a confusing lack of clarity) their ideas for packaging Cthulhu Wars, and what that would include or contain. It lit a horrible flame-war amongst many of the project’s backers, with dozens of people threatening to cancel their pledges, demanding refunds, etc. as well as the backers in the “other” camp resorting to hostility against those in the first camp, because they felt that the expectations they had were unreasonable, childish, etc.
I watched the war wage on for several days, thinking about each side’s perspective, weighing every opinion with one another, and found that many of the people involved were lacking the true grain of logic that should have been present, as it should with any discussion or debate. It wasn’t constructive, and it was continuing to devolve. Even when the project manager himself (or his family) stepped in to try to clarify or appease, it seemed only to make things worse.
Finally, I just had to put my voice out there. Rather than weigh in on the discussion that was already taking place, choosing one side or the other, I decided to start from scratch. I made a new thread that specifically quoted the initial update, and I outlined each party’s arguments and complaints, summarizing the overwhelming outcries from the public. Keeping Green Eye Games’ and Cthulhu Wars’ best interests to heart, I acted as a sort of moderator for this discussion, offering equitable “middle-ground” solutions to everyone involved, and trying to get everyone to put a positive spin on their involvement, avoiding personal attacks, or out-of-line statements.
It was a big move for me, moving from the stalwart lurker, to being the voice of $1.4M worth of backers on a forum, summarizing what (I felt) everyone wanted and needed in order to be happy. Besides, I absolutely idolize Sandy Petersen and everything he has done professionally, completely apart from what he did with Cthulhu Wars, so who was I to actually… you know… speak to him? Let alone try to offer people comfort on his behalf by making a suggestion to him. I felt that I, as a mere mortal man, had no place to stand up in front of all these people, and especially in front of the living god Petersen.
But I did it anyway.
Even though the idea of trying to mediate such a catastrophic debacle of PR was intimidating, I knew that I could do it, and that I would succeed. And succeed I did. The discussions mostly stayed on-topic, and stayed constructive. It allowed everyone a way to provide more personal and more civil feedback about their concerns and wants when it came to this project (very important, considering most backers were in at least $400 deep). The discussion still raged on for about 12 pages or more, until the issue was finally resolved. Sandy made an announcement that quelled everyone’s concerns and hostilities, and everything went back to normal. And one very amazing thing happened.
The god-among-men Sandy Petersen sent me a private message on BGG, personally thanking me for the work that I had done, and keeping a level head through the crisis, encouraging and supporting a civil environment in which to discuss things with his fans and supporters. He sent that message to me.
So I responded. And he replied. And so forth, and so on. I began to take a much more active part on the forums, I got to know more of him, and of two of his sons, Lincoln and Arthur. Recently, I’ve been invited to spend time with Sandy and his sons in a town that’s only a couple of hours away from here, that they will be in due to a coincidence of circumstances. Arthur and I have already spoken about meeting up, hanging out, and possibly even playing Cthulhu Wars while they are in town.
I knew at that point in time that they were regular, normal people. Just like you, me, and every other person that we have ever looked up to and idolized. Sure, they have done amazing things, and are recognized by thousands, if not millions of people for those things. But a man is still only a man, filled with flaws, ideas, feelings, and can make mistakes and be wrong. I did two things after I read the message from Arthur with that invitation.
The first thing was, I came here to write this block about my revelation. Our heroes are our heroes for a reason, but we must accept them as they are, with all of their achievements and their shortcomings. We can and must strive to be more like those heroes, and to learn from their accomplishments and their mistakes. I know I will. You know what the second thing I did was, after reading that message?
I ran around the house and made a “squee” noise like a little girl.