Back in 2007 a few days after finally opening my nightclub in the Italian Alps, I woke up one morning with the fear. I assume it was a panic attack brought on by the realisation that I actually, you know, had to come up with four years rent and other payments on a continual basis for that time. However, due to the fact that I couldn’t hide from the world in bed all day at some point I got up and went and dealt with my investment and responsibility, something I did every day for the next four years.
But while you cannot hide from the world in situations like that, you can hide from the internet.
This morning I was randomly clicking through the links on my homepage to see what everyone has been up to, (and, let’s face it, to make them believe that readers might actually be coming to their sites through mine …). I clicked on Grognardia. For those not familiar with this site it is, or was, one of the biggest voices in the roleplaying blogging scene. But now it’s not. In fact, it hasn’t been updated since December last year. I was assuming that the blogger, James Maliszewski, had been hit by a bus or something, but today I typed in a “whatever happened to Grognardia’ search in google and a whole lot of shit came up.
James had been wanting to publish his mega-dungeon, Dwimmermount, for quite some time. I had always thought that this was not a good idea since while Dwimmermount was a fine idea for a home D&D style game that could be followed by fans in blog updates, it would inevitably go down like a sumo team in a broken elevator if published. The reason being that mega-dungeons inevitably suck big fat donkey balls. but James wanted to publish it so bad that he brought the agents of doom upon himself.
He went to Kickstarter. Even worse, he raised almost 50 thousand dollars. Now if you think that a mega-dungeon module is going to make 50K let me tell you that you are out of your god-damn mind. But James was living the dream, and he had artists and stuff, and he was writing, and it was all going well I suppose until maybe one day James woke up with the terrible realisation that his module actually pretty well sucked. And he probably had a panic attack, much like I did with my bar. But the difference was that he was in the position to just decide that it must all have been a bad dream. I mean, if you never open your email account or your blog again, does it even exist? They’re just words floating in the ether. And when you combine that with the amazing level of non-compliance that Kickstarter provides, well, you have licence to not only pretend it never happened but to take the money and run. Now, apparently James is going through a family crisis due to his father’s awful medical condition, and that is a terrible thing. But in real life, if something like this happens, you can’t abdicate all of your financial commitments and responsibilities by using a tragedy as a timely excuse not to come up with the goods. But on the internet, it seems, you can.
So the blog has not been updated. It just stopped, and the readers were left to wonder. And to post nasty comments on other blogs. This is such a big deal that there are posts like, ‘Is this the post Grognardia era?’, and many others. And I wonder where all this leads. Can, and should kickstarter survive with serious issues such as this? Can, and should, the internet itself survive in its current form? Or perhaps the more relevant question is, what effect are all of these ‘drops in the bucket’ issues going to have on the long term outlook and shape of the internet.