Category Archives: Random musings

A Gamer in Japan Pt 2 – Location, Location, Location

In my last post in this series, I talked about who you will probably be spending a lot of your time gaming with in Japan; this time, I’ll talk about the where.  I would really encourage people to share on this one, as your play experience may have varied greatly, but from the games I have been a part of, the play location was always totally different than in the United States.

I live just outside of Tokyo.  As most people know, Tokyo is one of the most crowded cities in the world.  When I say crowded, I mean that they have to have people who’s job is to push and cram as many people on the train’s as they can during rush our, in order to get everyone on board… I can’t imagine that that is very safe, but it gets you home on time for dinner.

Living situations are especially impacted by this scarcity for space.  Most apartments here are very small as are other living set-ups.  I live in a dorm that is about 7 feet wide, by about 12 feet long (practically prison cell dimensions, and it often feels that way) and there isn’t much space to play elsewhere in the dorm; so, we usually end up playing on my bed, with all the play stuff laid out on the floor…

We have also made some contacts in the Japanese hobby chain known as the Yellow Submarine.  They are a hobby chain which retails all manner of different hobby and gaming related goods.  This is the place where we go to buy dice, figs, books, and just about everything else.  They are a good place to play Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and other CCG games; some of them will even give up their play space for role-players.  They sell the complete line of Dungeons and Dragons related books at about 2.5 times the cost US.  I went in there yesterday and found the Japanese translated hard-bound WotC books going for about 7000 yen a piece.  So, if you think you’ve got it bad when it comes to the cost of gaming material how do you think the Japanese feel?  Despite the cost, Yellow Submarine is a great place to get a game, if they have the space.  I’ve played their once.  We couldn’t play very late because the store closes early, but we were able to get a few hours of gaming in, with some of the most sought after things to have at a game… a table and chairs…

I got my camera out to take some pictures at Yellow Submarine, but they stopped me.  It is a corporate chain and thus they can’t allow picture taking inside unless they have the express consent of the parent company… which they wouldn’t give to a humble blogger like me.  So, they told me that I should direct everyone to their website where you can see the pictures for yourself.

Here is the sight:

www.yellowsubmarine.co.jp

Warning:  It is all in Japanese, prepare for a multi-cultural onslaught.

That is right, the other long term games I have played in had nary a place to sit, nor a place to put our mat.  We ended up using a plastic folder put on top of a miniature end table which we all sat on the floor around.  The space here is limited in even apartments; it isn’t just my minuscule dorm.

Now, I realize that most of these are my personal experiences; some of you may have had very different ones.  I am really interested to hear your experiences with where you played?

One of the places we loved to play at back home was a local pizza parlor which we had a standing agreement with.  We could come in and play for as long as we wanted taking up the biggest table there and each week we got the same thing:  3 pizzas spread over the time we spent there, 2 orders of buffalo wings, 2 orders of cheese sticks, and drinks for everyone.  With that much purchased we got to use the space for as long as we wanted… I have yet to find a place in Japan that will do the same… anybody have a different experience?  How have you found places to game in foreign countries? Anybody with Japanese experiences that relate to this problem?

Once again, if you would like to comment on any of the other stuff that I work on, you can find it over at my website:  http://thedumpstat.blogspot.com.  I’m always eager to hear from people, if you’re a gamer in Japan, I’d love to meet up and share some stories and maybe a few rolls of the dice.  You can also e-mail me at thedumpstat[at]yahoo[dot]com.  Hope that I’ll be hearing from you.

The ENnies and Quick-Start Rules

Yesterday’s post and similar posts on other blogs started quite a discussion in the RPG blogosphere. It even lead to the start of a small campaign to promote the two products that are considered “truly free” by our standards. Rob Lang even created a logo for that campaign but was asked by Denise Robinson, Business Manager of the ENnies to cease using the ENnies logo in that way.

So, are quick-start rules that bad? No, of course not. As far as I understand it, nobody is against quick-start rules themselves, even if some of the posts we wrote sound like that. Quick-start rules are a great way to learn about new commercial games, perhaps even give the rules a try before buying the whole thing. I posted about several quick-start rules in the past and I will probably do so in the future. But quick-start rules are teasers, demos, advertisement if you wish.

Now to the ENnies “Free Product” category. Both completely free RPGs and free quick-start rules fit that category, no doubt about that. Heck, it’s a pretty broad category. If it’s free for the customer, it fits the category. And perhaps that is one of the main problems here. There are a lot of RPGs out there, that are given away for free, but not to advertise a commercial product, but as the real deal. Heck, there are even games out there released under a CC license, that you may freely share and use for your own projects. But alas only two made the list of nominees.

The probem is, that a lot of great games/websites/podcasts/etc. are missing from the list of RPG products that have been submitted to the ENnies. Why? I can only speculate, but I believe it’s because a) people don’t know that they can submit their stuff for consideration, b) they were discouraged by some of the submission terms and/or the legalese on the submission forms, or c) they just lost faith/interest in the ENnies.

And it’s not only the “Best Free Product” category that left me wondering what the heck the ENnies guys are smoking. “Best Website” is even worse. How can you put sites like Critical Hits (a multi-author blog), Dungeon-A-Day (a subscription-based service that provides you with roleplaying material like encounters, dungeons, etc.) and Obsidian Portal (a hosting service for you campaign site incl. wiki/blog/etc.) into a single category? The RPG blogosphere alone should get a category for itself. Especially since the ENnies have been funded by ENWorld in the past, I expected them to understand the web better. But alas they don’t.

So, what can be done to improve things in the future? I’ve seen a couple of good ideas already, including plans to create the categories before the submissions are sent in. It’s mindboggling that nobody has thought of this before. Another good idea is to allow 3rd party submissions, especially for the “Best Electronic Product”, “Best Free Product” and “Best Website” categories. Perhaps this would help to get more submissions.

Ok, that’s enough ENnies for today. Hey, at the end of the day it’s just another popularity contest. 😉

My thoughts on the 2009 ENnie Award Nominations

ENnies logoThe 2009 ENnie Award Nominations are live and of course everyone checks out the lists, interested to find out if his favorite game/setting/website/podcast/etc. was nominated.

I was pretty happy to see a few familiar names on the “Best Website” list. I think congratulations are in order! Two members of our RPG Bloggers Network were nominated: Critical Hits and MadBrewLabs! May the best blog win!

But there are a few nominations that seem at least a bit odd. The “Best Free Product” list includes two Quick-Start rules for commercial RPGs. Ok, they fit they category, but instead of products that could be considered advertising they should have nominated some more truly free games. Currently I am leaning towards voting for “Sword & Wizardry“.

It gets really strange when we come to the “Best Podcast” category. I would have expected podcast like Atomic Array, The Tome Show, Fear the Boot or Master Plan etc., but instead we get a list of five podcasts nobody I know has ever heard of. I don’t want to bash the nominated podcasts, perhaps I am just listening to the “wrong” podcasts and all the really cool geeks know the ones nominated for the ENnies.

So, what are your thoughts on this year’s ENnies nominations?