Hat Musings #1

Hey all, Hat here. Just checking in on the SFG community, letting you know what’s been going on.

I can already hear the question: “Hat, where are the GvG articles? Where is the content?”

Honestly, I’ve been having trouble focusing on getting them done. When I started out this project, I didn’t have a clear image on how much work it’d be, and I just started with the questionnaires and asking people if they’d be up to give an interview. But I’ve never been one to back down for a good challenge. 🙂

And suddenly there was the announcement of Steamforged shutting down the Pundit Programme.

At first, I thought it was understandable. It was widely known that there was a group of PBNO’s – Pundits By Name Only. A group that participated in the program, but didn’t actually organise anything for their community. Reason? Pundits got early access to spoilers, and who doesn’t like spoilers, or getting things early? Also, there were many cases of spoilers being leaked to the community early – pundits had to sign an NDA form for early access information, but some seemed to not share this vision. To each their own, I guess.

The pundits were told that Steamforged would start a new program: Steamforged Champions. These ‘champions’ would be the first point of contact between the company and the general community – the social influencers, so to say.

Those still active and willing to go for this new role filed an application, and the waiting started. Loads of us were actually quite certain we’d get in – we’d done loads of work for the community, had been organising tournaments, had been promoting the game of Guild Ball, and nowadays Godtear, free of charge; just as a hobby, just because we liked doing it. Giving something back. For me myself, it was starting this blog and joining the media team; getting the Dutch Steamforged community to grow by organising local small tournaments, attending cons and giving out demo’s; getting the Netherlands on the Guild Ball map through attending the WTC multiple years in a row, and organising the first Dutch Nationals just a few months ago (and nearly winning it!).

But then the responses started coming in. Here’s part of mine:

Hi Niels.
Thanks for taking the time to apply to be an SFG Champion.
While your responses showed potential, sadly, we won’t be able to move forward with your application at this point.
(…)
Thanks again for applying. We appreciate your effort.

Oh… so I guess I hadn’t done enough. Was it that my content currently only focuses on Guild Ball? Was it that I’m still quite a newcomer to the community scene? Did I say something or do something wrong?

As I checked the Guild Ball Zone Discord channel, it seemed that all hell had broken loose. #MadBotts was on a rampage. Beard was stunned. And then there’s this tweet, which almost made me shed a tear…

https://twitter.com/singled_outGB/status/1225068159830495232?s=20

Andrew just received notice that he wasn’t accepted into the program. If anyone had deserved being called a SFG Champion, it would be him.

A question started dawning on me: who did get into the program? It seems not a lot… I now know that there are entire countries without Champions.

Let’s get one thing clear, though: SFG Champions are not the same as pundits. Not being a Champion doesn’t mean that Steamforged doesn’t want you to organise tournaments anymore, or to try and grow the community by i.e. giving demo’s, going to cons, or basically just being an awesome human being who is enthusiastic about a game they love to play. Sure, it might be possible that you don’t have a store with access to SFG Direct, making it hard for you to order Organised Play kits, but there are other ways of getting prize support. If there’s a will, there’s a way.

Sadly though, this whole situation and the way the community has responded to it has affected me in a negative way. When the news dropped, my first reaction was “oh well, I don’t really care, I guess I’m gonna keep on making content – my main focus is the community, and teaching/informing/entertaining them.” But I guess in time it has gotten under my skin, affected my will and enthusiasm to sit down and start writing again.

There’s been a growing dread in my mind – and I guess not just mine – that Guild Ball is about to be thrown to the wayside after the release of the last couple of Minor Guilds. There’s still no information on the Series Four World Cup. No information on SteamCon. I’m not even sure if there’s going to be a 4.3 errata upcoming March/April, or a Series Five World Cup track.

I’ve just started this journey. I’ve been thinking of organising (at least) four seasonal tournaments this year. A fellow Belgian pundit and me have been making plans for a mainland version of the Coin Wars. I’ve wanted to start a European tour of National tournaments this year. I wanted this website to become one of those that people link to when players are asking for information.

To Steamforged: I’m not sad, I’m not angry. I’m mainly just confused. There is still so much left in the dark, and we’ve not been getting any clear information on what a Champion is supposed to be, and what the reasoning is behind some of the rejection processes, or what the future of Guild Ball is going to be in the grand scheme of things. Basically, I would just like to have a good chat with someone in the know. Just to ease my mind, you know. To understand, and to give me the confirmation that what I do is still valued by you guys.

To the community: Don’t take this blog as fuel to get angry at Steamforged again. They’re in rough waters as is, and I guess they know it. Let’s just wait and see what happens in the near future. I for one promise that I won’t stop. I just wanted to let you know what was going on – being transparant about stuff like this is important to me.

Here’s a little spoiler thrown your way for good measure: the first GvG article is over halfway done, and it’s about a certain Guild who’s new captain just came in second. #FreeFishyAdvertising

Hat out.