Well, the forum has certainly been a sore point of the site for quite some time now. It used to be one of the most active parts of tsumea for a good part of a decade, but a whole lot of factors have contributed to its slow decline. Forum fatigue and life priorities for our regulars (can you imagine constantly posting for 8 or 9 years?), the global financial crisis and massive studio closures which saw many of our regulars and local developers moving to other industries or overseas. And then there’s Facebook and Twitter, and now Discord, making it really easy for anyone to form communities for a whole lot of people already on that platform. This sort of convenience makes it really tough competition for our area on the internet! It’s certainly something that’s not unique to tsumea, and I’m sure you can find many, many specialised websites out there with forums or discussion areas that struggle with activity. The snowball effect of less and less forum activity is that less people are encouraged to contribute, and that’s where the forum stands today.
Over the years, I’ve pondered on what we could do to bring some activity to the forum, even contemplating on giving in and shifting it over to a tsumea Facebook or a Discord group, but I feel that would just reduce one potentially great purpose for visiting tsumea. It would also stifle what we could do in the future if we wanted to implement something more than what those platforms offer. Plus, on a personal level, I really don’t want yet another reason to be on Facebook every day.
So how do we change things here? I have an idea.
There’s got to be a reason for people to want to contribute to a forum, and there’s got to be value in visiting a forum. As it is, members can still post what ever topic they want for others respond to. I think a way to add value to the forum is to give it the additional purpose as an information resource. We already have sections on various fields (game design, art, programming etc), but I’ll be structuring it so that ideas and information are upfront and centre, and others can contribute to it or discuss the merits of them. A simple example is placing some good or common ideas, or design cheats, in the games design section for various game types (FPS, Platformers etc). Or business strategy for a Development section. Granted, a lot of these things I am not an expert on, but they can still be contributed to in many ways, although the primary source that I would get that from would be summaries from articles or conference sessions that I view.
Another important factor is you. The forum needs the participation of as much of our members as possible. If it ends up with just myself posting and rambling about my findings on games development, I’m fine with that, but I very much would love to have a whole lot more of you posting as well. I can guarantee that there are plenty of you who have the experience or knowledge to contribute to a topic or discussion.
In any case, this is not a quick fix and will probably require months or maybe even take years to build back up, but it’s worth a shot!