On Thursday, Escapist published my latest article “Graveyard of the RPGs,” which deals with the Play Generated Map and Document Archive–i.e. a public archive and museum of tabletop RPG character sheets, hand-drawn maps, and campaign ephemera.
Since I’m not a full-time freelancer and can pick-and-choose what articles I write, I tend to gravitate toward work that includes more than one interest of mine. This particular article is unique in that I started out with a single combination, RPGs/Museums, but the further I dug into the subject the more I stumbled onto things I found interesting. For example: in the middle of interviewing the head of PlaGMaDA, Timothy Hutchings, I asked about a hand-drawn D&D module in the archive, and suddenly I was being told about Hutchings’s anonymous meeting with the high-end collector who gave him the module, and his ensuing quest to find the creator. Suddenly the article I’d imagined disappeared, and I got a detective story instead.
Articles that take left turns and change as I write them invariably wind up being my favorites. Writing is fun because it’s a chance to discover, whether it’s a story you never knew, or a deeply-held belief you never acknowledged until you sat quietly long enough to uncover it.
I quite like “Graveyard of the RPGs,” even though it’s one of my least popular articles by pageviews. I know I’ll remember Hutchings and our conversation, and the quirky detective story of him investigating the D&D module will never really leave me. I’m going to tell that story at a dinner party someday, and it’s a story I’d never have known if I didn’t agree to write an article about an RPG archive.
Things like that make games writing worth it.