Gamehackery: The Facebook Effect

I don't know if you're seeing the same things I'm seeing in my game-related correspondence. But what's happening is making things a little more complicated.

We don't talk the way we used to

I spend all day in email inboxes -- my work inbox, my personal inbox, etc. But over the past couple of years, my use of email for personal communication has dropped off quite bit. I still use it, but more often than not it's where I communicate as a consumer rather than as a friend.

Facebook, twitter, SMS….. these are the tools that are starting to really take over the namespace.

The Best Place to Reach Me is …….

A few years back I started a new game group at the request of a friend who had a couple of high school aged boys (his son and a friend) who would play in the group. After a few failed attempts to engage with them via email, I was told that I needed to try to get them on Facebook -- they never used email.

So, I created a Facebook group for that game, and used that to communicate with the group. At first, I had to use both email and Facebook to reach all of the players to try to plan game sessions, but over time the need for the email communication has dwindled.

At the same time, my long-standing group has become harder and harder to connect with via email. This is a group that has played together for more than 10 years, with some personel changes. We've used a Yahoo Group to manage group emails for all of that time. We're all gamers of "a certain age" -- but still, the Facebook effect is happening to that group, too. For the past several sessions, I've had to reach out to players via text and Facebook just to try to determine if they were planning to come to the next game session or not.

It's not just me

So, this phenomenon is being talked about by others. Marketing gurus pay a lot of attention to what works for reaching out to people, and many of them are talking about the decline in email usage. Stories about the way kinds were leaving email for social media and texting started turning up years ago, but what started as a kids' phenomenon is spreading through the generations quickly.

In marketing circles, the idea that people are moving to Facebook for communication is actually fairly old news -- but a recent Pew study shows just how prevalent Facebook has become. Fully 67% of online adults use Facebook -- and a good portion of those who don't either want to or have been on Facebook in the past. Facebook is quickly becoming the most universal experience we share, the way network television was in the years before cable. (Dark times, they were. We watched The Love Boat. Seriously).

And according to last year's Social Media report by Neilsen and NM, I'm not the only one using a mobile device to check social networks in the bathroom.

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If you can't beat 'em

It makes a lot of sense. Facebook is fast, it's easy, and it's where a lot of people spend a lot of their time. It serves much the same purpose as email used to -- letting us keep in touch with friends and family -- but it's a better experience than email. Our email accounts are cluttered with spam and promotional emails from all of the different companies that we have shopped with. My email inbox is stuffed with offers from Amazon, Audible, Levenger, and Kickstarter. Good lord, the kickstarter emails are a tidal wave.

The Neilsen report I linked to above found that fully 76% of people felt positive and energized after interacting with social media -- when was the last time you felt that way after deleting a bunch of emails in your inbox?

Facebook is more of what we want -- connections with real people, the people we care about, not the companies that want to sell us something.

So, why not make Facebook part of your everyday gaming communication. It takes just a few seconds to create a Facebook group, which will allow you to have a special page on Facebook just for your game conversation. These groups can be set up with some reasonably granular permissions and security, so you can make it invite only and totally private if you want. You can create events for your game sessions, use FB posts for game recaps, etc. File Sharing notifications, and a bunch of other features make it a terrific solution for managing the communication needs of your campaign.

You may be tempted to try to demand that your players communicate with you in a specific way, but in the end that will backfire unless you're looking for ways to alienate some of your players and cut down on the size of your group.

Email has worked, for years, because we all have lived in our inboxes. But more and more our private time is spent communicating in ways other than email, and that means that email is less and less effective. It's not that your players are uncommunicative wankers, just that they've moved on to a tool that fits their needs better. You, like me, might need to embrace that transition.

Of course, it's not going to be perfect. There will be a few holdouts who are not on Facebook in a lot of groups. You may end up having to connect with those players in other ways. In the end, until your group transitions from one to the other, you're going to be caught, like me, in an awkward place trying to coordinate a conversation across multiple platforms just to organize a game day.

Are you still arranging your games via Email? Have you moved to Facebook? Twitter? What else works for you?

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First Post
No thanks. I've seen my wife's facebook. Its full of all the same spam you get in email. In addition, now instead of just sorting through spam in email, I have to sort through the spam of friends and family.

Radiating Gnome

LOL, you've either got really clean email, or your wife has a really nutty FB feed.

FB is add supported -- there are the omnipresent adds on the side, and now they've got sponsored posts in the feed (which is a huge drag), but with a little careful control over your friends, your likes, you can keep your feed pretty clean -- and it's incredibly easy to block people or sources you don't want to see ever again.

That said, I don't think it's OUR feelings about facebook that matter, but the feelings of the people we're trying to connect with. If you're sending emails to your players, and they don't check their email more than once a week anymore, you're going to be pretty frustrated. The move to alternative communication channels is coming, like it or not.


Alan Shutko

I do have clean email, but very dirty facebook feed. My family's the cause of most of the junk. I find it a whole lot easier to miss stuff on Facebook than email.

And my opinion does matter. If I find Facebook to be time consuming and a hassle to engage with, and I have people in my group who only want to use Facebook, and others who only use twitter, the group isn't going to happen. Why should I have to be frustrated and use a communication channel I don't want to?


Right now, I'm in two gaming groups. One is online; my older brother, and my best friend and a friend of my brother's. I chat with my older brother when I'm at the computer, I TALK with my friend when we're together, and the other guy I occasionally email with. Otherwise we only talk at game time.

My face to face group consists of the same best friend, and my husband, who hates facebook. The third player in the group is my 73 year old mother, who has never done even e-mail. Cell phones (no texting) are her limit on technology. Facebook effect hah!

(I do run 2 facebook pages for my library, where I work. They're marginally active, and the teen page has ONE active teen member)


First Post
Not being a FBer, I will stick with email, or Yahoohgroups, which is a group, and has no ads or oddball things in the list.

Radiating Gnome

Not being a FBer, I will stick with email, or Yahoohgroups, which is a group, and has no ads or oddball things in the list.

I think, at least what I've been finding, is that I can talk to myself all day long in email or yahoo groups -- but if I want to reach some of my players, I need to talk to them where they're spending their time. At least some of my guys, that's FB.



Cute but dangerous
I hate Facebook. With a passion. It's evil, it violates privacy and is trying to take over the world from my POV. It is not even allowed on our network. If you wanna game with me, you need another means of communication. I rather have a group or 3 less than give in to that abomination.


First Post
Facebook is where I dump updates about content and then pretty much ignore anything else, because a fellow can only look at so many cat pictures in one day and I can't seem to find the 'No BS' setting. Twitter is where I go to interact, but it lacks organizational elements, like setting up groups. Email is for serious communication where I'm not going to be screwing around much.

I've got an game group set up on FB for my local, but it has turned into mostly asking (and alerting people) about who is and isn't going to be showing up that week. Any real discussions happen around the game table still.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
I have noticed that, of FB, Twitter, and G+, only people on G+ get really angry if you hint that you don't use G+ all that much.


First Post
Our gaming groups use a for posting adventure synopses, character info, and gaming schedule grids; email to confirm a game and/or organize food more than a week out from the game sessions; and texting for more immediate changes in the schedule or food shopping.

Facebook is right out as a group communication tool because so many of our gamers work in the defense industry in Huntsville, AL.


We use a yahoo group. Allows us to communicate without dubious privacy issues.

Facebook has no redeeming qualities as far as I'm concerned - especially with its changes on a whim for no good reasons and its active elimination of any privacy in the name of "helping you" connect with friends.


First Post
For my groups/campaigns I build a website for that purpose. The site then has everything we need for updates, synopsis, house rules, etc. etc. I'd never consider Facebook for anything of that sort for the simple reason that I want control over what happens with the data and how it is presented.

And as for communications external to the tools I build, that's what email is for. Just about everyone has it (heck, you need an account somewhere to even sign up on Facebook last time I checked) and it's a very straight-forward tool. Even in the last recent game I was in, it was email that was to communication tool of choice.

Radiating Gnome

I've got many of the same solutions you guys do -- my own web site, yahoo groups, even an obsidian portal account for a new campaign... but email just doesn't work as well as it used to when it comes to communicating with my players -- hence the column -- but maybe it's just me. Anyone else out there seeing a shift away from email, or am I cra-cra-craaazy? ;)



Staff member
Are you still arranging your games via Email? Have you moved to Facebook? Twitter? What else works for you?

Our gaming group has a yahoo group that we use. So does my guitar circle.*

I would say that the majority of my group uses Facebook, but I never will.** I find their business practices are unethical and shady, and their lackadaisical attitude towards user privacy is reprehensible.

You want to contact me? I have 4 email addresses, 2 phone numbers, and two (listed) addresses- possibly 3 within the year- and a fax machine.

(No, I don't use Twitter or texting, either.)

* I wanted to set up a Gmail group, but it was so freaking buggy- it wasn't searchable, no matter how many times I changed the settings; it refused to let some invitees join for more than a week. It even kicked people out of the group- including me, the guy who set it up.

** unless it is absolutely required for some business purpose.


First Post
I hate Facebook. With a passion. It's evil, it violates privacy and is trying to take over the world from my POV.
Ditto. Facebook is the Devil.
I'll be happy to wait for its fall from grace and maybe join its heir _if_ said heir has a different stance on privacy.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
I gotta admit, we still use email, and it works just fine. There isn't a single social network everyone's on, or uses. Facebook would only get half the group (I think everyone has accounts, but some don't check more than once every few months, if that); G+ would be... well, just me, I think. Twitter isn't suitable for that sort of thing. Yahoo groups are too darn 90s for me. Email seems to work just fine for everyone.


My local group uses private message boards we have setup. We've been using that for the past 8 years and it works out great. We handle IC and OOC play topics there and another section for scheduling and other topics.

My online groups use G+ for communication between sessions and scheduling. Of course they are G+ Hangout games so we have an obvious bias for G+ for outside the game communication.

I still hangout on Facebook, but I don't use it for game communication beyond liking a few RPG companies.

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