As many of you know by now, Google+ has turned out the lights and ceases to exist. For many of us, it was a social media platform where we could hang out and be ourselves. Generally, though not always, of the hate, stupid memes, and the “stat this” silliness that invades Facebook all too often in the myriad of gaming groups that exist there. Communities were easy to find and the caliber of gamer that tended to hang out on G+, in my opinion, was generally top notch. That is not to say the caliber of those on Facebook is any less, but rather just different.
I for one took advantage of G+’s integrated features like events that could also be seamlessly connected with their Google Hangouts and later, YouTube Live. This made planning and scheduling online games so easy and effortless. Sadly, there is nothing currently that compares to this level of integration. Facebook lacks any real tools that are appropriate to the gaming hobby. The other social platforms that have sprung up or at least become more common in our lexicon lack the level of features that G+ offered. I guess there’s always other options, just none are as easy as G+ was. Rolling Boxcars is currently using our Discord to plan, organize, and run many of our games.
The plethora of general or game-specific communities was amazing. While moderation tended to be relatively lax, spam always seemed to be kept to the barest minimum; I know this because I was an owner, admin, and moderator of many communities. The topics always seemed to be genuine and almost always on topic with the community in which it was posted. Don’t get me wrong, there were some divergent and sometimes controversial conversations, but sometimes talking about touchy subjects is important for making our communities better.
In the wake of Google’s announcement to end G+, a variety of new and existing social sites came to the foreground. Many G+ users have migrated over to MeWe with a very large number refusing to use MeWe for a variety of reasons. Citing concerns like the interface sucks, it lacks real social integrations like those of Facebook or G+, and even worse yet, some have cited the site’s promise of free speech shows the site is openly supportive of far-right radicals and hate speech. Those caught in the diaspora of G+ appear to have scattered to the winds. Some existing G+ communities have moved to sites like POSHpost, while others cease to exist. Individual users have melded into one of the other existing or new-to-the-scene social media sites, returned to their blogs, or have found homes and refuge elsewhere. Sadly, nothing else out there, at the time of this article, provides the level of community and gaming-friendly integration and tools as G+ once did.
While the death of G+ sucks in no uncertain terms, it’s not the end of the world as we know. Life after the diaspora will once again settle down and communities will flourish; albeit in many new forms. The Gauntlet, a hyper-inclusive roleplaying community that carved out a home on G+ has moved to its own website forums. The old Goblin Emporium, a great buy/sell/trade marketplace has moved over to a forum-based site. The Call of Cthulhu community is trying to migrate over to POSHpost, but Chaosium officially moved it Tapatalk because of the site allowing for “post” migration so, at least this community will live on. Many users I follow have begrudgingly moved back to Facebook or are trying to have more of a presence on Twitter, in some cases, both.
If you were once a G+ user, we hope you have found new communities that meet your needs and provide you a safe haven for all of your gaming needs. If you can’t find a community that meets your needs, the Rolling Boxcars Discord is always available and regularly growing. Maybe someday, we’ll have something to all call home that will rival G+, but until then, stay safe and happy gaming.
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Stephen’s G+ Farewell
G+ was a great alternative social network for me. It wasn’t junked up with memes and pictures of people’s elaborate overpriced consumables. I was very grateful that the RPG community had adopted this alternative location because of the alternative social networks, though I now have a presence on it, I loathe them. The discussion on the Google+ communities that I belonged to were focused and didn’t devolve into shallow pleas for electronic acceptance. They brought real discussions and fresh ideas which one could foster for their own means.
Before Google+ wiped away my digital existence on its the platform, I like many other refugees sought new hexadecimal colored lands to settle. Unfortunately, there was no one place to migrate to and our numbers are now scattered at different exits and rest stops along the digital superhighway. I hope someday that we will find each other again and be able to rebuild the great community that we had at Google+. Until then you’ll find me pulling my pixellated wagon filled with my digital content and comments, dropping them off at each URL until I can find the next great RPG community for me.
~Stephen “G+ Refugee” Pennisi
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Dan’s G+ Farewell
Like Stephen and Modoc, I found Google+ to be a very effective social media platform. I met a number of people online, was able to advertise my previous blog, and learned about games I’d not otherwise have heard of. I’m not sure why, despite failing to succeed on a general level, Google+ worked so well for the gaming community.
That’s not to say it was all rosy – I witnessed some hostility on Google+, especially in the shape of various gaming “camps” for lack of a better term. But one of the nice things about Google+ was it was easy to control who you interacted with.
I think Modoc’s term of a “diaspora” is quite accurate (and I’m also amused that I first heard of the Diaspora RPG on Google+). There really doesn’t seem to be a clear successor to Google+. Some people have settled on MeWe. There are a number of Discord Channels. You can find me at both of those places. I’ve begun visiting rpg.net more often and also spending more time at the BRP Central and Yog-Sothoth forums. I’ve even done some gaming discussion on Facebook of all places. I rather enjoy the Rolling Boxcars that Modoc set up on Discord. I don’t think any of these have anywhere near the critical mass that Google+ had for gaming. (By the way, if you look for me online I usually use some variant of dstack1776 or a reuse of my early 1990s BBS handle, Breschau of Livonia.)
Probably the toughest thing we’ll be losing is the community. One nice thing about Google+ is over time you found yourself recognizing people from a number of communities so that you’d often begin following them/corresponding with them generally. I know for me I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise, especially around LGBTQ+ issues, as people I corresponded with wrote on the challenges they faced, both in gaming and in everyday life.
The community will endure. I’m old enough to remember a time before even rpg.net started. I was part of a mailing list run out of Iowa State for Star Frontiers. I participated in various gaming discussions on Usenet in the mid-1990s – I remember TSR’s first clumsy attempts at online policy, with an attempt to throttle any fan posting their own content. Even with the demise of Google+, we’ve come a long way.
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