A Missive on Play

Hi All!


So I am back and catching up on the Romancing Jan World. All mail backlog, including NPC letters, was sent out early the morning of July 11th as soon after I got back as possible (I got back at 6am on the 10th), and the Publisher notified me the gazette went out on the 12th or 13th. (We sadly can not control the schedule of the Publisher. We sent it to them on the 5th, after that point it is out of our hands.) If you feel like you are missing mail, please feel free to send us an email at gm@romancingjan.com and let me know the last thing you received and I will happily send you what scans we have received since so you can catch up.


I have received a couple missives, but only a couple, since the digital Gazette was sent out on the 5th, and only in the last 24 hours that alerted me to the fact that there may have been a database scrabble in the Debut RSVPs that led to some character information mix-up in the July Gazette. I want to apologize for this. I would never intentionally “God mode” a player character unless that player was one who actually prefers to be passive and wants me to create things for them. They exist in this community and I love writing for them as much as I love just reporting on what others of you write about yourselves, but I do my best to keep those two styles different. After looking at the way our RSVP database was set up and some issues in it that resulted in me having to move information around, before we finally found the right configuration that we used for the Denouement this month, it is entirely possible some notes got scrambled in the process leading to some write ups that would be incorrect for your character.


I want to apologize for that, and if this happened to you, please send me an email at gm@romancingjan.com or use the Newspaper Submission form to submit a suggested correction for August.


I do apologize for the backlog and the errors, but please remember that unlike a digital game, which can be run 24/7 by computers, or a weekend LARP that only runs a few times a year, we are a small group of human beings with human lives, and other full time jobs but this game still runs in real time, every day. We need breaks occasionally. We try to arrange those breaks to cover each other, but that doesn’t always work out. This game is run at a loss, meaning it costs more in human labor than it pays for, and thus it can not be our top priority. Our health, families, and full-time jobs have to come first. Part of this being a by-mail game is that it is intended to be a slow gratification experience and allow us to balance it with the rest of our lives, not consume them.


My biggest concern and disappointment right now though, is that the couple of missives I have received imply some ill intent on the part of myself or my team with errors or slow downs in the last month. It also alludes to other people having issues with the content printed that have never been reported to me or my team.


I would like to reiterate that I can not fix issues that are not reported directly to me. I do not read the unofficial discord and I do not believe in trying to deduce problems from rumor and hearsay. I have been fully transparent with this community; from disclosing the finances of this project when we had to adjust prices so as not to be at a 50% loss each month (we still work at a loss, I do not receive any compensation for this work) to letting you know when there would be delays in June because I was grieving the back to back loss of two people who were very close to me.

There are human beings on the other side of this game, Who created this game out of a love of cooperative storytelling and wanted to do that in as inclusive of a world as we could create.

That requires trust and understanding on both sides of the computer monitor and mailing envelope. I give at least 2 hours to this game every single day, 7 days a week, even when I was off the grid for 5 days, I may not have been answering emails but I was thinking and writing about this game: how to make it better, what story to tell next, which players need more attention, etc.


I have been building this game for five years on and off and while it is not just casual fun for me, but it should be for you. It is a game. It is a game of Pretend the way we played as children, and the only way it succeeds at what it is intended to do: give you a fantasy to escape the pressures of the real world, is if you let it remain as Play.


There will be errors in the newspaper. We have an editor, she is great, she is also one of our writers. She is amazing at what she does. We have a layout designer who is amazing and is wonderful at what she does. We have writers with a variety of professional experience and expert knowledge. All are amazing at what they do. But all of these humans are just that, humans, giving you a creation from the heart, at below market rates, because they love this world as much as I do. Even professional newspapers where folks are making full-time wages make mistakes. The correct response to this as humans to humans is to assume good intention first. Then you can: 1) Roll with it and just let it be 2) Send a respectful email with some feedback pointing out the error and simply asking for a correction next time around or 3) Decide that you need to walk away and cancel your subscription, because you are no longer experiencing the sense of Play.


In the interest of transparency, I have been disheartened by some of the messages I have received from a few players over the last few months that I feel have not embraced the sense of Play or assume good intent about our work and have made personal attacks on me and my team. It is hurtful and has pushed me to consider closing this project for the good of my own mental health. I have decided against shutting down, because the rotten apples should not spoil a tree. As long as there are those of you who still want to play pretend with my team and myself in this world, I will continue to play with you. I built this game for those of you who are enjoying it, and who send us little notes from time to time to let us know. I built this game for those of you who never say anything, just happily play at the back of the room. I see you. I love you and I will continue to play with you. I built this version of this game to help me process my own grief over the loss of my Pub and Community and way of life due to Covid in the hopes that it would also give a beacon of light to others as well. I will continue to make it for those of you who it continues to help.


For those of you who are feeling a sense of anger toward me in reading this post, I would suggest that you have lost the sense of Play needed to truly enjoy this experience. I encourage you to cancel your subscription and find or create a game that makes you happy. I take no offense at all to people deciding that my creation is not the game for them. There are so many experiences in the world and so many creations, find one that creates joy for you! I want above all else for you to find that joy! It is okay that this might not be that for you, but I will not accept your abuse while you figure that out. If you can not send feedback to me and my team with the mutual expectation of good intent and trust, or empathy for our own real life challenges that might cause the occasional delay or error, then I will cancel your subscription for you. Life is too short for manufactured drama over something that is intended to be fun. Errors about a pretend character in a pretend world should not be affecting your mental health. Boundaries are important in roleplay to prevent bleed and disillusionment of the genre or actual real mental trauma to yourself. I can not create your boundaries for you. If you are finding more pain than joy in this experience, please stop now. I don’t ever want what I create to hurt you.


As a creator, I also have to create boundaries for myself. I ask that you respect that and if you don’t, for my well being and that of my staff, I will remove you from this game. I am happy to keep running this game regardless of whether it is for 5 people or 200 as long as all of those people are playing with mutual respect and good intentions and healthy boundaries.


Sincerely,

Athena Z Peters

Creator and Runner of Romancing Jan



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