Should Barbelith start a gaming forum?

Are there many decent online communities out there concerned with the thorough discussion of the aesthetic, narrative, psychological, theoretical, philosophical and economical implications of games and gaming (both online or offline)? Or are they all about asking questions about where you use the green key and how to kill the end of level boss? I know of a fair number of people who are fascinated by the cultural implications of gaming (Ben Cerveny, Stewart Butterfield and Alice Taylor leap straight to mind). I also know of a fair number of decent weblogs around the subject, including The Ludologist (best Economist design-rip off ever) and the Terra Nova folks. But what I don’t know of any good communities for these higher level discussions.

Folks on Barbelith are trying to work out at the moment whether to start such a forum. The board already has a more-engaged-than-normal clientele and the level of discussion is generally pretty good, so I suspect we could make a go of something fairly classy, but it would be a hell of a lot easier if there was an acknowledged need for a space for a community of intellectual gaming enthusiasts to colonise. Anyone out there got any opinions or recommendations? it would really help us inform this debate…

9 replies on “Should Barbelith start a gaming forum?”

I’ve never heard of Barbelith until now, but that forum sounds like a great idea. I tend to avoid gaming forums because of the low level of maturity and high level of irrelevant material, but if an intellectual gaming community is at all possible — I haven’t seen one yet — then I’m all for it.

The two types of gaming conversation you mark out at the start of your post – lofty discussions at an observational distance versus limited mechanical detail – are the two extremes of quite a wide spectrum. I doubt you’ll get many of the latter type for the same reason that the “Laboratory” forum isn’t full of questions about how to set up a TiVo or upgrade MacOS.
While I think the “lofty abstract” type definitely suits Barbelith better, there’s another type of discussion that I’m very interested in which falls somewhere in the middle: Gaming is not just about following proscribed narratives but also creating one’s own, and the individual experiences that people have with games can sometimes be quite fascinating, especially if related in such a way as to be understandable to people who have no experience with the game in question. Certain pieces of “New Games Journalism” such as the instant classic Bow, Nigger are great examples.

As a long-standing (ish) member of BarbelitH; no. I mean, I don’t think so – and I care hugely about the subject matter, everything from the position of games within culture to how freaking fun it is to play them. I think, as with so many other topics, we should be able to discuss games within the framework Barbelith lays out. I’ll express my point further on the board. I’m craving finding a way to discuss gaming at a different level – especially to bring so many of the gamers I know up to where so many of the more academic sites are – but I’m not sure Barbelith will be the place that ought to happen.
More on the board, under my SECRET NAME, later.

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind taking part in a gaming forum. I lurked on Barbelith a couple of years back but thought it wasn’t *quite* right for me, but I think a gaming forum could have a lot of interesting discussion.

I think a lot more people are thinking about making communities more ludic in the post-Flickr era… And after things like Bow, Nigger and the Gamers’ Manifesto, stuff like Theory of Fun and so on, there seems to be a great interest. Is Barbelith the right place? Why not?

I say yes, go for it. Please give me a decent place where I can discuss these matters – I am not very active on Barbelith and prefer to lurk there, but a gaming forum with people as intelligent as the average Barb-user? Yes, please.

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