Friday, July 17, 2009

Why Jonny can't role play

I've read the multitude of threads on the RPG issues. A lot of great points on multiple threads, and there are a few questions and issues that seem to have been over looked.

1) What does a pen & paper RPG offer someone surrounded by a multitude of easier, more immediately rewarding, and less socially strenuous endeavors? Especially when the same diversion (fantasy rpg gaming)can be had with the push of a few buttons or the typing of a few keys. How do you lob a 5 lb book at someone and compete with instant gratification?

2) Much like the legal system, most current games are written by lifelong gamers to impress or meet the expectations of cynical and jaded other lifelong gamers. They are often too "inside baseball" for someone to simply pick up and start playing.

3) The gaming clubhouse does not exactly have a friendly, "come on inside and play" welcome mat at the door. The elitism and arrogance one often encounters, or the odd quirks and inside jokes of a veteran group can often be isolating, off putting, or intimidating for a novice.

4) Take a look at the continued success of TCG's. One of the brilliant methods to promote their continued existence is organized play. They reward the players with content for participating. WotC I believe tried some sort of organized outreach combined with Living Greyhawk, RPGA and other elements. Trouble is it applied to the old gray gamers and I'm not sure it really rewarded new players at all. What is the draw for a new player? What is the reward for becoming a weekly gamer?

5) Barrier to entry: paperback adventure books like Fighting Fantasy, or micro games like Melee and Wizard, provided low priced, low page count, accessible entries into the hobby. Why in heaven's name would you expect a kid to purchase a video game expensive text book and spend hours reading and trying to decipher a text book sized game manual? That is 3 strikes against gaining new converts.

6) Boxed sets have a charm to those of us who started with them. We grew up playing board games which all came in boxes. Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble, Boggle, etc. All games (even Atari 2600 games) came in a cardboard box.

Times change but the RPG industry has not followed suit. Boxed games are no longer the entertainment entry point. So why not make a new boxed set to fit a new generation? Taking a page from Melee/ Wizard, why not pack a small manual rpg book with adventure into a DVD case? Include some counters and a map and sell it for $15? Make a series of them and have a full rpg. Many RPG games could easily be translated to a grid battle game: Final Fantasy tactics, Ogre Tactics, Fire Emblem. Small, portable, DVD boxed games that teach RPG playing through micro sized pieces. IP is incredibly important to gaining traction so why not use one of the tactical rpg licenses and create mini rpg board games?

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, and being fans of, and blinded by, the good old days limits can limit ones vision.
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