Real Things For Real People

The game designer Paul Czege has just launched a new newsletter called ‘Say We Do’. 

|

|
7 minutes

The game designer Paul Czege has just launched a new newsletter called Say We Do’

I can’t tell you to go sign up on Substack or Ghost because it’s not that sort of newsletter – it’s a PDF. And if you want to read it, it’s a dollar on itch.io.

Say We Do is a “Paul Czege Broadsheet”. It’s my thoughts about games as I’m making them. It’s things I might have once posted to Twitter as a thread. It’s excerpts from my actual play of journaling games, or retellings of events from other games. It’s my mental unpackings of books or tarot decks or game-adjacent things I’ve bought. It’s an occasional small game I’ve made that you’ve never seen before. It’s selfies, and puzzles, and interesting things people have said.

You buy it once and get every issue until I stop doing them.

I took my PDF copy to the print shop the other day and read it over a cup of tea when I got home.

Paul’s made no commitment to posting new issues with any regular frequency, the offer simply is this: I have a broadsheet newsletter, pay me a one time fee and get ‘on the list’. I presume he’ll raise the price once there’s a bit of back catalogue.

It all feels very simple compared to running a Substack or other contemporary subscription model which results in the need to grind out regular posts down in the content minds. The spice must flow! Plus, there’s no need for him to do a burlesque fan dance around what’s going to be public and what’s private.

I think it’s great!

Now, I’m biassed obviously, not just because Paul included a quote from me in Issue One, but because I send a physical zine out in the post to paid subscribers four times a year. 

I make a zine called Start Select Reset

Start Select Reset Zine (SSRZ) is better than email

Rather than contributing to your overflowing inbox, SSRZ is a physical newsletter sent via snail mail to subscribers four times a year

Subscribing supports my work and podcast, and brings you the small pleasure of receiving something in the mail

The first print issue of my zine was called Return of the Real. In the release missive I wrote: As our culture moves / trends towards ever greater levels of abstraction, making and sending real things to real people is the way forward

Paul’s newsletter feels like a little weak signal, a light in the dark, a step along the road to the sort of culture that I want to be a part of and participate in. Despite it being a PDF and entirely virtual, Paul’s newsletter feels fresh. If you want to read Say We Do it’s a buck. If you want to print it out, do it yourself. 

It’s funny, Paul and I chat online and will occasionally jump on zoom calls at short notice, but almost all of my engagement with Paul’s creative work has been in print. His short pamphlet (or rather, zine) on solo RPG journaling games The Ink That Bleeds is quite possibly the most important and influential thing that I read last year.

The Ink That Bleeds is an incredibly important book about the edge of contemporary games design. Solo Journaling games as Jungian psycho-technology.

My lecture on writing and creativity at the New Centre last year ended with a workshop / discussion with the students on Solo RPG journaling games inspired by Paul’s work. I have – as yet – been unable to review it as the text has left me reeling for nearly a year. And like his newsletter, if you want to read it, you’ll need to buy it. If you do, he’ll write your name on an envelope and post it to you in the post. 

Via Paul Graham Raven at VCTB I found myself nodding along with this Adam Kosko piece:

Print was a perfected technology, an unsurpassable way of sharing information and ideas and stories — and we are all in the process of throwing it away for something we know is worse, out of inertia and laziness and cheapness and convenience.

I’ve had a love affair with print zines since I made my first one at the age of 9 or 10. I still have two regular magazine subscriptions – which I mostly read after 9.30pm during no screen time hours house rule. In fact I prefer to read almost anything in print, or at the very least on e-paper/my kindle. It’s funny actually, all of my engagement with Pauls written work has only ever been physical, in print. 

I also noticed the other day that Justin has started shipping a physical newsletter to his paid subscribers:

After a ton of research and logistical wrangling, a first welcome issue was just shipped this morning to all paying subscribers of this newsletter.

This was more complicated than I planned for, but I think you’re really going to love it.

It’s clear to me that the internet is about to be flooded with junk, which is why I’m pushing more into IRL events, print products, and everything that’s harder to fake

Another sign that things might be changing. I feel encouraged by this and I wish him the best of luck. As I well know, the economics of sending real things regularly to real people via international post is not an easy game to play.

Which is why Start Select Reset Zine is currently only published four times a year. Don’t let this schedule disused you from subscribing though! I do also make two podcasts and have an expanding essay collection on the super niche topic of worlds!!

But then again I do ‘get’ the “cheapness and convenience” of virtual distribution. Printing a zine is very much balanced by expensiveness and bother of dealing with post office queues and wrangling envelopes. But it’s worth it – and its working out.

My own efforts making a zine over the last two years – creating, printing, and mailing physical items – stem from a belief in the importance of tangible connections with people.

DIY Linoprint + Publishing in Progress 2023

The act of sending and receiving real things – be it a zine, a newsletter, or even now a one-dollar PDF to real people is an important antidote to the impersonal nature of the kinds of digital exchanges we currently find ourselves with. 

My pals over in Broken River Books collective were at the AWP convention the other week and they sold out their table. Now of course, as a publishing collective, they are in the business of publishing physical books – putting real things into real people’s hands. 

AWP Recap/Diary

I sold out of all my books. So did Kelby and Rios. Eddy sold out of almost everything. Grant sold out of of almost everything. The energy was flowing and we were connecting. When we left Kansas City, everyone had a big smile on their face. We could all feel the good vibes.

As seas of social media continue to evaporate and acidify I hope that more folks will also be interested in real physical things made by real people AND making and sending real things to real people yourselves. 

So whaddya say, folks, should we just start sending zines to each other through the mail?

YUP.

I want zines and newsletters, physical missives and postcards to arrive through the letterbox with a reassuring regularity.

I think that paying people to send you more email is part of the problem, not the solution.

Make a zine, collect your blog as a PDF, send a newsletter, send me a postcard. To reiterate something is said a few years ago:

The reason you’re not selling out is because nobody is buying

Prefer Email? 📨

Subscribe to receive new posts straight to your inbox!

Or subscribe to my physical mailing list from £5 a month


Leave a Comment 💬

Click to Expand

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *