Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guest Bloggings! Snow on New Blood

Our next guest bloggings comes from David Snow (I don't know his real last name :p), who handles Jason Snow. He writes on a subject that's near and dear to my heart, and I have to say, it's a must-read.


Now and Then
by David "Snow," Special Guest to RRoaEL

Upon returning to e-wrestling after a three year hiatus, I was staggered to see the differences in the game. First of all, it seems that angle feds turned out to be just a fad after all, and the RP fed once again reigns supreme. Second, people are much more mature, but I suppose that comes along with the fact that it’s mostly the same people, only now we’re all way too old for this game. Third, the game itself has lost a lot of steam.

Around the time I left in 2003, eW was electric. Forums were buzzing with activity, and there were chats going around the clock. No matter what time of day you were able to stop in, there was always something going on to get your eW fix.

It’s not like that now.

The forums are, for the most part, looked at, but not used. The chats are reserved for rare occasions.

Originally, I just thought the game had changed; that people just weren’t as into as I remembered. But when I got into the community, I saw that wasn’t the case either. You only need GTT6 for proof of that. Even during the most active time that I was involved in eW, I’ve never seen anything generate buzz like GTT6.

I’ve talked to many people about the state of eW today as compared to the time I left, and nearly all of them said the same thing - eW will rebound when the wrestling industry rebounds. I agreed. It sounds logical, right? More wrestling fans mean more people will trickle in to eW, populating our game with new blood. The over all numbers are down, but I think everyone will agree, the bulk of the difference is in how many “new” guys are around. In 2002/2003, there were a lot of guys who’d been involved in the game for less than four months - less than two months, even. Since my comeback, I don’t think I’ve talked to one.

But that’ll change when wrestling gets popular again, right?

Well...

Rating for WWE RAW (September 30, 2002): 3.6
Rating for WWE RAW (October 7, 2002): 3.8
Rating for WWE RAW (October 14, 2002): 3.8

Rating for WWE RAW (September 29, 2003): 3.4
Rating for WWE RAW (October 6, 2003): 3.4
Rating for WWE RAW (October 13, 2003): 3.6

Rating for WWE RAW (September 25, 2006): 3.7
Rating for WWE RAW (October 2, 2006): 3.4
Rating for WWE RAW (October 9, 2006): 3.8

Lets face it. The golden age of wrestling was over a full year, or perhaps two, before the golden age of eW began.

In preparation for this article, I decided to look around at other feds. I found one of those Top-100 sites and starting going through. I was very surprised. When you look through the “geocities” and “angelfire” feds, almost nothing has changed. These feds seem as active as ever, if not, I daresay moreso. I know what you’re thinking: “I saw one of those Top-100 feds sites too, and a lot of the feds had long-since died.” All I can say is you might be looking at 2002/2003 through rose-colored glasses, because that’s what those things always looked like. Small feds rarely made it to their six month anniversary. The point is, people are still creating the feds.

I found out recently that my first ever fed has come back from the grave - not only has it come back, but it’s now bursting with activity. It has a roster of over thirty members, and that’s a conservative estimate. They’re all very active. And yes, the fed still uses real pictures and several of it’s RP’s happen in a ring.

Looking through these feds, I came to two conclusions. You can think they’re wrong if you like, but I believe that these are cold truths that we should accept.

Conclusion #1

The decline of e-fedding is an illusion.

Conclusion #2

We have hi-jacked the hobby.

Who are we?

We are the writers.

I am, perhaps, more guilty of this than any of you. I don’t watch wrestling; I haven’t watched wrestling since roughly 2002. I don’t know who the WWE champion is, and in casual conversation, I still refer to it as the “WWF.” I don’t know who the faces and heels are. If I’m flipping through the channels and I happen to see an old face from my childhood, I’ll stop to watch. Other than that, the most it will get is a quick pause, and then I’m onto the next channel.

I’m not alone. In fact, I don’t even think I’m in the minority. That’s not to say I don’t like wrestling. I think that each of us involved in the game has, at some point or another, been captivated with the sport. It is, after all, the closest thing there is to a soap opera made for males. But to say I’m a fan? No... I’m like the guy who’s favorite baseball player has long since retired. He likes the sport - you might even say he has a love for it - but it is very hard to call him a fan.

But eW isn’t about wrestling anymore - lets face it. It’s about intriguing stories that may or may not be loosely based on wrestling. The characters in eW are not really characters at all, save for a few. Ask around.

“What’s your character?”

“Oh, I handle John Smith in GWF (Generic Wrestling Federation).”

“Oh yeah, what’s his gimmick?”

“He’s a guy that was born into a terrible family where his father abused his mother. Now he’s in the middle of a plot to blow up his city because an evil congressman is trying to divert attention away from his unnatural lust for young boys.”

You know who has the best “gimmick” in that? The congressman with the unnatural lust for young boys. What we call gimmicks today aren’t really gimmicks - they’re circumstances that surround the main character. A gimmick is who the character is, not what’s going on in his life.

Again, I’m probably more guilty of this than the rest of you. That’s because I’m in the game for the writing, and often times, the most interesting characters are pretty ordinary ones that get caught up in an unordinary situation. Why? Because we’re writers, and those are the kinds of characters that people can relate to.

And damn it, have we ever gotten good.

There are a handful of people involved in PTC right now that have the talent to write a novel. They might even have the talent to write professionally. And just behind them, there are several more e-fedders who are developing at a pace that will have them in that group shortly. There are guys that I would wager large amounts of money that, given enough free time, could make it as authors. And without e-fedding, they’d probably have remained above average.

But where does this leave the average wrestling fan?

They come to PTC, looking for a good wrestling game to get involved in. They see the posers, read the news columns, check out some rankings... they’re excited. They want to get involved. But then they come to the RP section, and they find that it’s not a wrestling game at all. It’s a writing game that simply uses wrestling as its platform. They’re not interested in a writing game.

And you know what’s funny? I’ll bet many of you would have been in the same boat when you got into the game. 99% of us got into it for wrestling - I know I did. Many of us were decent writers to begin with, so as the game evolved, we didn’t have much trouble adjusting. Many of us weren’t great writers, but through practice, became good writers. Many of us were terrible writers, but because of sheer competitiveness, or perhaps simply to continue having fun in the game, we got better. Maybe it was even an accident.

I’m not being critical - I want that to be known. I’m just pointing out that this really isn’t a wrestling game anymore, and that’s probably the biggest reason for the decline.

And when I say “we’ve hijacked the hobby,” I really only mean we’ve hi-jacked the major leagues of the hobby. Because it seems that in the feds that we used to call “indy” feds, where it’s still all about the wrestling, things about the same as they always were.

It’s not about making changes, it’s about accepting the way things are. We’ll probably never get back to the heights of the “Ron days,” simply because the game has changed now. Being a wrestling fan isn’t enough to thrive in PTC now. You have to have the unique combination of being a wrestling fan/like wrestling, and being a fairly talented writer or better. That combination is a lot harder to find, and thus, new blood continues come in at a trickle.

6 comments:

Tom Holzerman said...

Look at me, I'm a first responder on my own blog. Never thought I'd see that day :)

I think you're pretty spot on with your analysis, especially in the "we're writers first" aspects. Honestly, it's clear to see that some e-feds lack in the wrestling department. I recently read a FUSE show, and I was underwhelmed at the actual content on it that had to deal with wrestling angles and the like. While I don't doubt that there are fantastic writers on the roster (shown the by how well-received folks like Tigera, Mexico, Cruz etc. were in GTT6), they clearly value RPing over what kinds of angles they present on-screen. THat's okay if that's what they want, but it sort of underwhelms me as someone who likes to see balanced strength in both RPing and shows.

I think it's also telling that GTT6 results aren't presented even as short-formed wrestling shows. It shows where their bread is buttered, and once again, that's not a bad thing. I mean, I wouldn't have competed in (and pending the last judge, still be competing in hopefully!) the tourney had I not liked its set-up.

But I think that your analysis, while spot on for PTC, doesn't explain why FW feds, which are by-and-large more wrestling-based than writing-based, haven't seen growth. Wait, I know why. Because we're all super late with our results :p

In all seriousness though, that's not to say a balance can be stricken. I feel PRIME does an awesome job balancing wrestling and writing. I feel that AWC sometimes does that, but I still think that only a select few guys on the roster really feel like wrestlers instead of characters who happen to wrestle (Jack Murphy, Darcy Crisis, when he was active Mike Wade, sometimes GBJ and Chainz).

Once again, I'm not decrying that kind of mindset. I just feel that the utopic situation is one where you can concentrate on both great writing and great wrestling material.

Josh Ray said...

Loved this post. It's true, the Lindsays of the word with their "there vs their vs they're" and their "here vs hear vs hurrrrr" are driving the regular everyday normal guy like me out of the hobby.

I quit!

Hyde said...

This is so, so true David. Basically, we have severed the connection between the "us" and the "new" in two ways - one, by losing to too great an extent the connection with wrestling; and two, by being too damn good for the "new" to ever have the ambition to contend with. We have cut off the supply of blood to an aging system and probably should look into doing something about it...

neweraofwrestling said...

One of the best blog entries I have read in a long while. I think you are dead on. I haven't watched wrestling since 98' .. and here I am, almost 9 years later still in the game (hell, evening running a fed).

Although I'm on FWC and don't really know the PTC style besides what I've briefly seen, I can see what you're talking about.

Great blog post. Hopefully you'll come back and write on Holzer's blog more often! :)

Bill said...

I've been in and around a couple of feds for about 6 years (admittedly never PTC but I have interacted with a few handlers from that world) and the biggest change I see between then and now (besides the fact that I'm now 30 - so maybe the issue is that I'm just getting too old for this) is how seriously handlers and fedheads take themselves and their work these days.

Again, maybe I was just participating in feds that were a bit of a different breed, but for me posting an RP on a message board was never about publishing my personal spank rag so that the world could marvel at my abilities as a writer, it was about me publishing my personal spank rag as a wrestling storyline because I knew I would never be a wrestler. The fantasy was about (and thus the focus was on) the wrestling. I never fantasized about being a novelist.

The other major component for me was the satisfaction of beating an opponent. Having your peers vote and decide who was superior that week. So yes, in that sense there was always an effort to be a better writer than the competition, but it was writing for competition's sake, rather than writing's sake.

This is why I never really understood the point behind angle based feds. It just doesn't appeal to me as much as feds with an open vote, which is basically just A1E at this point, and even there I've become burned out because of the level of pretension involved in "telling a good story" these days.

Chris D. said...

Well-said, Dave.

I (this being the handler of PRIME's Nova) stopped watching wrestling in the early part of 2003, actually mostly because of e-fedding. I thought the WWE product, by that point basically the only thing out there for the average wrestling fan that didn't have ROH tapes on their shelves, was crap. E-fedding was great fun, and I discovered that the angles I was involved in and read, and the matches we all wrote, were much more entertaining than McMahon's shows were. So I stopped, and never really picked it up again. On the flipside, my involvement in the fedding hobby increased.

Wrestling is a great medium to work within, as we're all fans to a degree, but it's about the writing now, and I don't think that's a bad thing at all.