… and that most certainly includes those of us working in publishing. "Mistakes happne," as they say. To err is human, etc., etc. As much as we try to put out flawless products free of the stain of human fallibility… well, we’re human.
The reason I’m pointing this out is not just because I’m looking to retain the title "Captain Obvious," but because in today’s world, where we creators of "content" (to fall back on a terrible corporate-speak term) interact more and more easily with our readers and players, it’s easier for our faults to show. There’s less distance provided by the mysterious credits page, with nothing more than a name and a P.O. Box into which to cast letters (and don’t forget an S.A.S.E.! "What’s an S.A.S.E.?" Go away, kid. Google it or something and come back.)
When our faults do show, when it becomes clear we’ve made a mistake—and folks do point them out to us—we can treat it in one of two ways:
First, we can get defensive. The perimeter has been breached! Our wall of anonymity is crumbling! Who are these people, to come to us and tell us we’ve made mistakes? Let’s pretend we can’t see or hear them, and maybe they’ll all go away! Obviously, that’s not the best approach, but it is one some take to the greater connectivity of the modern world, along with adopting a superior attitude to brush off any perceived criticism: "Well, what would you know about it? Have you ever published a book?" (As if you need to have cooked a meal in order to taste it.)
Or we can treat the insights of our readers, players, and fans as a mirror, in which we can see things from a different perspective, often spotting those all-too-human errors we didn’t see before. As bitterly as we sometimes hate being reminded that our work is less than perfect, we can say, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention," and learn from it. It’s certainly the experience I’ve had with the best developers and editors of my career although I burned with embarrassment when my flaws were highlighted, there was certainly no missing them, either.
Now, that’s not saying some people aren’t downright rude, in which case we, too, might need to hold up that mirror and point out some human flaws, but when it comes to the sincere (and usually enthusiastic) people who enjoy our work pointing out its weaknesses, that comes with the privilege of creating things for a living. It’s also how we learn to do things better the next time, and the time after that, and we’re all interesting in trying to do better.
So, when you find the occasional error or misstep in an RPG or other creative product, understand that there is likely no one more frustrated by it than the people responsible for creating it, be kind when you bring it to their attention, and remember… nobody’s perfect.
Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.