Sunday, July 12, 2009

Whither TARGA?

Coming off a great time at a local gaming convention this weekend at which both the RPGA and NAGA had full-blown event tracks, I am given to share my vast disappointment at the direction TARGA has taken. Or, more precisely, the lack of direction.

The two email lists that support the organization are virtually unused. Nothing has been posted to the organizers' list since April, and the TARGAtalk list has seen a month go by with no activity. Is there really nothing to talk about? No conventions? No games looking for players (or players looking for games)? No module reviews? No new gaming news from among the OSR publishers? There's a spiffy wiki, which Michael S. was kind enough to set up, but after a month and a half, no one had added a single page until I did so tonight. The "official" TARGA website (itself a wordpress blog) hasn't seen any activity since April.

Is there even a TARGA? There is a bit of an internet presence, but is there any actual organization? We've got officers, apparently. Has a corporation been formed? I know I collaborated on bylaws many moons ago, and there have been some conference calls, but has any real progress been made? Have there been any TARGA-sanctioned events at conventions? Any attempt to generate synergy with some of the OSR publishers? Even a game finder? As far as I can tell, in 14 months, we've come up with a pair of low-traffic email lists and two websites that are essentially unused. There was an "International Traditional Gaming Week" back in January that seems to have consisted of mostly people running their ordinary games out of their houses, with a few one-shots at a local FLGS. A second one, planned for May, seems to have fizzled.

I do not mean to disparage anyone in particular, because this is not a failure of any individual, but I was frankly hoping for a little more progress over the course of more than a year.

Is this a failure of the concept, or a failure in execution? After only one attempt, it's impossible to say. I'm willing to give it another go in another organization (perhaps in another form, or with another emphasis), but I have regretfully come to the conclusion that TARGA is not the vehicle to support a revival of old-school gaming.


Robert Fisher said...

You know, I just stumbled across the TARGA blog for (I think) the first time earlier today, and I began wondering the same thing.

Of course, what I said—or tried to say—in the past was that it’d probably be better to just do whatever we’d want done under the auspices of existing communities—Dragonsfoot or what have you—than bother trying to build anything new.

I never got a clear idea of what anyone wanted from such an organization, though. I think you’ve given a pretty good list.

James Maliszewski said...

TARGA suffers from several things, in my opinion, chief among them being a somewhat fuzzy self-conception. I was involved in some of the early discussions about it and, honestly, I'm still not entirely sure what it's supposed to be or do. That's not the fault of anyone in particular, but it does make me wonder if any attempt to unite the old school movement, even in a vague way, is doomed either to failure or irrelevance.

Robert Fisher said...

I don’t think there’s any need for organizational unity.

I think we already see that—when something happens—the extended community mostly unites in support. Sure, there’s always going to be some nitpicking in some quarters that can seem like disunity and divisiveness. As long as we don’t feed the divisiveness, I think we’re good.

Chgowiz said...

In the phone call in April(?), I got the sense of two things:
1. Nobody wanted to seem like they were doing something "official"
2. People had a LOT of irons in the fire elsewhere that might have benefited TARGA but people were unsure how to put anything into TARGA.

When Neil F. and I put up the wiki, Matthew S. called for submissions and there were crickets chirping.

I think TARGA might represent an attempt to do something and be something where there's not really a place for it to be. I think that for TARGA to really succeed, one of two things has to happen:

1. Publishers have to come together and make it happen to help sales and marketing.

2. Someone has to take the bull and just run with it and not worry about the darts and slings from others.

There seems to be so much energy being spent in different ways right now in the OSR.

Honestly? I'd do TARGA ala RPGA but not making the mistakes that RPGA made and not trying to dictate gameplay. I don't know how RPGA would take to a competitor, but that's what I would do.

Fandomaniac said...

Hi Joe, I was the cleric from the party. I'm at work right now, but will send you the photo as soon as I get home. Thanks again for the great game! My daughter and I both enjoyed it. I hope to game with you again in the near future.

Matthew James Stanham said...

It is a strange old situation with TARGA. The website is there, the wiki is now there, the blog is there, and the desire is there, but nobody seems willing to do anything for whatever reason. I know I am guilty of this for two reasons:

a) I cannot spare the time to take on new writing projects.

b) Even if I did, I am somewhat fearful of what sort of reception they would receive.

In my mind I can see fairly clearly what the TARGA website should be and I have outlined it in writing on TARGA organisers list, but I have no technical experience at all in getting it up and running.

The obvious conclusion is that TARGA needs a driving force behind it, if it is to come into being in any way at all. There are tons of reviews of product wandering around and even consolidated lists of available products. It would just take one organiser to contact the individuals, obtain permission to republish their reviews, and then post them up on the TARGA website.

Again, though, it is the perennial case of "less talk, more action," and I have talked enough. :D

ancientvaults said...

As one of the TARGA officers I have to agree with the general concensus: it is a bit of a lame duck. I believe that the idea was a good one, but then with the explosion of activity (and sometimes controversy, or at least minor squabbles outside of TARGA but in the community) that TARGA is really not necessary. Want an OSR game? Go find the appropriate messageboard or download one of the one page Oldschool Primers, print and post it somewhere and run with it. Basically, that is all that you need, not a corporation or a non-profit group, just do it.

Chgowiz said...


Just thought you should know.. 'the game's afoot...'