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What does it take to start a fanzine? You need confidence. You need enthusiasm. You need skill in editing and design. Above all you need good content. What does it take to sustain a fanzine? All of the above and more.
You need recognition. Our recent nomination for an Origins Award has been a fantastic boost to PTGPTB team. Whenever a reader writes in we feel great: we have made an impression, in some small way we have changed the world. Then there are the new contributors and this is the very best recognition: that PTGPTB is a place where people want their thoughts displayed.
You need new blood. I remember when Steve Dempsey came on board: his quiet Englishness centered us and kept Steve Darlington sane. More recently we have been joined by the vigorous, feisty Régis who has been rousing us from our slumber.
You need continuity. It amazes me when I think that this is the Zine's eighth year of publication. In that time we have moved from a staff home page at a Maths Department, to hiding out at HUMBUG, to our own domain. We have had two editors in Chief. Although I am the only 'staffer' to remain from Issue 1 we have stayed true to our vision: substance above style, universal principles above systems and stats.
You need contributions. Of all kinds. From the anecdotal retrospectives, through to systematic philosophy. Reading new contributions is the highlight of the Zine.
You need to do better.
In recent years we have not been publishing as frequently as we did when all of the editors were University students in need of serious outlets for their procrastination. Work and other interests take their toll on time and energy. When the choice is to work on the Zine or to role-play in our friends latest campaigns, well you can guess which one wins out.
We are aiming to publish more frequently: to do this we need you. We need your recognition. We need your thoughts. We need your articles! They do not need to be perfectly formed. If you have an idea you want to see published by us then we are happy to work with you. You would be surprised how much your work will be improved by the constructive feedback of others.
To assist authors we plan to revamp our submission pages. We want to make it clearer that although PTGPTB seeks copyright we are happy for you to take your works and use them elsewhere. We are looking to adopt a proper legal license such as the Creative Commons (attribution, no derivatives, no commercial use) or the GNU Free Documentation License (with all invariant sections) for future issues. We would welcome author feedback on these licenses.
We want to improve our processes to ensure that we keep in touch with authors prior to publication and after.
We are also considering what other services PTGPTB could provide to the community. There are already many great omnibus sites like RPG.net and we would not aim to ape them. We would welcome your ideas. We have a stable site that is going to be around for years to come. Can you think of more that we might do with it?
Finally, we are attending to smaller details: like adding a Google site-search to aid navigation. But enough of this introspection...
In this issue
M. Joseph Young's continuing series Theory of Roleplaying leads this issue. In this installment he asks, "What does it mean when rule books say the GM 'controls' the game?". The Platonic answer may surprise you.
We follow on with a double-Steve feature. First, Steve Dempsey takes us on a tour of the Games he wants to play. Then Steve Darlington waxes lyrical on the complex interaction between Avatars, Audiences, and Authors. Such subtleties are surely a big part of why we all love our hobby.
Finally we finish off with advice from Alex Loke for that neglected RPG subculture the Jerks.
A personal note
The origins awards and this issue of the Zine coincide with a joyful personal moment for me and zine contributor Sarah Hollings: on June 25 (tomorrow as I write) we will be married.
I met Sarah one stormy summer night when I went along to a house-warming party on behalf of then editor Steve Darlington. I'm still not sure why a beautiful woman let in a soaked, unshaven, and trench-coat clad man in foul temper. For whatever reason she did and over a number of Ars Magica scenarios we got to know each other better. Although I think it was probably the six-months of debate about the mind-body problem that sealed the romance. What can I say: we are geeks!
So, thank you readers. You are the reason we created the Zine and the Zine is the reason I met my love.
Raymond has been working behind the scenes since PTGPTB Issue 1. Lately he has been enjoying Conspiracy X and an extended holiday.
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