The GPA (Game Publishers Association)
From my time in Nova Games, I became (and continue to be) an associate member of the Game Publishers Association, or the GPA as it is known. This organisation has been around for quite a few years and the GPA-L mailing list is a hugely useful resource, allowing GPA members to draw upon the experiences and opinions of others on the list.
The organisation is extremely useful if you’re serious about self-publishing – for advice and also if you’re looking for help with distributors or looking to acquire space at conventions. It also provides a press-exploder for releasing information, and discounts for GPA members. However its usefulness has degraded a little in recent years: it’s undergoing something of a hiatus in the current economic climate, and they’re looking for some ideas as to the future of the organisation. The GPA (http://www.thegpa.org) is one of the best ways of getting expert advice from industry “insiders” right now.
I had a few ideas for what could be done, based upon my own experiences and ideas I’ve had. Here’s what I posted to the GPA-L list.
As a relatively “minor” associate member of the GPA, having only just started out on my own, freelancing and self-publishing part-time, I thought I’d throw in my tuppence worth.
The GPA has a wealth of experience in the form of its members and for me the mailing list has always been the biggest draw for me. For example, a few months back I was keen to know what the going rates were for artwork: a few hours and emails later, and I had a much clearer picture and even an offer after an email to the list. The ability to draw upon the experiences and knowledge of those here has always been the biggest attraction for me.
However, there are a few things that I think could change for the better.
- There isn’t much incentive for new members to join the GPA outside the USA. Europe has a huge game-playing population, especially in the UK and Germany. Perhaps some form of local advisor volunteer or helper: for example, in my case I live in Edinburgh in Scotland – I’d bet there aren’t many other GPA members nearby. Whilst it may not be a huge commitment time-wise for these volunteers, it may help forge some local links (even if they are just playtest groups). Finding out local info when you don’t live there is pretty difficult (for example, currently driving through Edinburgh is almost impossible due to the Tram works debacle) – and although it is only 40 miles from Glasgow, the difference between the cities is considerable.
- Advice for micro-presses or first-time publishers. The “e-Publisher’s guide” by Minion Dev corp was very useful to me initially, and I reckon that others would benefit from the same sort of product. However its probably a little out of date to some extent. Perhaps the GPA could recreate the starter pack or FAQ (the current link doesn’t work)?
- Useful resources like links to companies that do dice, custom counters, battlemats, box printing etc. Perhaps there could also be a “members only” rating system for these, and for printers or distributors?
- The web page looks out-of-date and a bit “clunky”, with a few links not working – hopefully it is getting patched for security updates and the like – but could probably use an overhaul? Most CMS allow FAQ, Links and similar; perhaps these could be used for some of the ideas above?
- A free-lancer or artists database. Obviously this would be subject to a individuals preferences.
- A move toward a more web 2.0 interface – possibly Twitter and Facebook (as Aldo mentioned) pages and feeds or even member Blogs, feeding in though RSS (like the RPG Blog Alliance – http://www.rpgba.org/ – which parses RSS feeds).
- Does the press exploder still work and is it regularly updated?
- Perhaps, and this is a bit of reach here, but perhaps the GPA could be used for some form of branding e.g. quality assurance – perhaps some form of peer review group? E.g. if your product has the GPA logo it has been proof-read, spell checked, or something similar. Even if its something as straightforward as a book not falling apart after two weeks of use, or that it has been checked by an editor! .
Anyway, just a few thoughts. Although I don’t know how much time I could devote to the GPA, I’d be happy to help in some respect.