As web admin & editor-in-chief for KPB, it's part of my job to sift through all the pertinent information that pertains to both the FGC and gaming at large. However, I have a responsibility to myself, my team & my community to be honest when the time calls for it. Now is one of those times...
Lt. Col. John Konrad is a character and primary antagonist from the shooter title Spec Ops: the Line. If you've ever played the game, you already know everything you need to know about him. If you haven't, know this: Konrad knows you better than you'll ever be willing to admit until it is far too late. He sees through you & your intentions. What he really wants, however, is to expose the truth. He wants this regardless of how prepared you may (or may not) be to accept that truth. He has a very poignant line of dialogue that still haunts me even after all these years:
"Takes a strong man to deny what's right in front of him and if the truth is undeniable, you create your own."
You might be wondering why I bring up Konrad, a disgraced military officer from a shooter title, at a moment like this. Well, I'll be blunt. Despite being a fictional character from an entirely different genre, his words pierce through all our excuses, platitudes, sophistry & circular thinking. Even from his vantage point, a perch that has virtually nothing to do with our shared passion, he can see the truth. What truth might that be? That we are the architects of our own misfortune. Not some shadow cabal, no conspiracy, no external interference. We have become our own worst enemy.
If you haven't picked up on it by now, I'm referring to the "situation" facing the New York FGC. Apparently, we're waist deep in some form of crisis. Turnouts are decreasing, numbers are dwindling, the hunger seems to be fading. All signs point to a veritable maelstrom for the FGC... and that is utter bullsh*t. The only problem the NY scene is that their many, MANY shortcomings are coming back to bite them in the ass. If you're expecting any form pity or even empathy from yours truly, then allow me to apologize right here & now for misleading you. One thing I have never had any tolerance for in my life is that weird vacuum of reasoning that some people use to complain about a situation that they themselves have caused. Sorry, but you can miss me with all that noise. Furthermore, if you're comfortable complaining about a situation, but have no intention of working towards a solution, then you're not part of the problem... you ARE the problem.
Damn near all I've been hearing about lately is that the scene is dying in NY. I can't buy that. Just because the situation changed around you doesn't mean it's hurtling towards entropy. For years & years, we've wanted to reach that next level in terms appeal & exposure. Well, guess what... we're there now. The twist is that the upgrade comes with responsibilities. Those big OG names that have been idolized in the past are now being called out to big events, which means the lower echelon, mid card players that usually gravitate towards them have suddenly become sheep without a shepherd. Worst part is that the flock isn't all that great when it comes to finding their way around. During my tenure with KPB, I've had to endure a number of frustrations. None more damning than having to see people's efforts go to waste while trying to help the community.
I was there in Atlantic City when the FGC was given an opportunity to make an impact... nobody showed, despite the venue being on the Strip & having direct transportation from Manhattan. I was there in Kinnelon, a practically perfect spot for the FGC with a Chinese restaurant, a pizzeria, a supermarket -AND- a movie theater all within the same complex. Oh, and it also had direct transportation from the city. Unfortunately, it was just too far out for some New Yorkers. Although, if I'm to be totally honest, that distance didn't seem bother any of the heads that came from New England, but what do I know? I was there in Scarsdale, yet another venue that had direction transportation from the city (notice a pattern yet) where I heard the single most depressing answer to a rational question. One of the spectators asked why there was a $500 pot bonus for a charity event. The answer that was given: "Because no one would come out if there wasn't." If that doesn't speak volumes about the NY scene, then I guess I'm deaf.
If you're at the point where you want to knock me down a proverbial peg for voicing this opinion, allow me to explain something: I know firsthand what it's like to work with a community to keep their scene vibrant. The vast majority of my 2015 was spent working with the Skullgirls community. Why? Because I like the game. Sorry if that comes off as a boring or disappointing answer, but it's the truth. I enjoy that game for a number of reasons, but my involvement with the community stemmed from the fact that I wanted to help them grow. I lobbied to get them into events, both big & small. I put up money, not as blatant incentive to raise turnout, but as a reward for the dedication I saw from them. I put myself out there for the sake of giving people an opportunity to showcase the game they loved. No regrets, either. I got to share the mic not only with one of the many people who provided some amazing voicework for the game, but also the man behind the game itself. Think about that... within a year's time, I went from simply being a fan to commentating with the game's functional creator. So when I take a moment to say that the NY scene's woes are self-inflicted... it comes from an area of personal experience.
You want to revive the scene? Stop making excuses... stop being hypocritical... stop prioritizing monetization over expansion... stop clinging to your comfort zones. If you want to see things make a turnaround for the better, then take it upon yourself to push yourself & others around you. Go to new venues, don't focus solely on pot bonuses, communicate with other players outside of your clique, try your hand at a new game. Most of all, stop holding everyone back by refusing to rise to the occasion. Communities either live or die based on the actions & decisions of those who populate them. As corny as this is going to sound, remember that you cannot spell "community" without "UNITY". Which brings me back to John Konrad. To close out this edition of the Dynamek Perspective, I'm going to leave you with his words. Any number of excerpts from this speech can be applied to the FGC, so feel free to pick your proverbial poison. The real question is, as always, whether or not we'll have the sense to listen.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.