#135: RPGing for Y2K Kids

Old Geezer

New member
Banned
If ain't broke, why fix it? And if it is broke, why are you complaining? Make your own damn system.
I like the cut of your jib, kid. ;)

"There is no rule so great, powerful, or important that it cannot be ignored if the referee deems it necessary." -- Gary Gygax, 1972
 

smascrns

New member
Banned
Steve, you’re right, no questions about it. Roleplaying goes where other adventure entertainment goes. And by adventure entertainment I mean card games, board games, minis wargames, computer games. The future of role playing is in becoming an add-on to those other types of games.

I think there’s a company that will do it, sooner or later. Sooner than later, I would say. WotC. With D&D. Consider the current 4th ed. People have been linking it to MMORPG. Maybe, I can’t know because I never played these. On the other hand, for me DD4 screams card games, either stand alone like Magic, or board based like Runebound. The Powers in DD4 can be turned into cards within the blink of an eye.

Now, just consider this scenario: A set of games based on common materials, mostly cards, but also minis, dice, etc. And a common setting. One game is a CCG. Another is a board game. A third one is a wargame. All sharing the same mechanical conventions and all sharing similar materials. Add to that a roleplaying game. What you get is a platform for playing, a flexible platform that can be adjusted to the tastes, finances, time, of the player. Add to that platform computers and all they can offer and the potential is enormous.

Some companies tried to bridge rpgs with other games, granted. Atlas Games’ Rune; Wharhammer battle and Wharhammer rpg; L5R. Yet, none succeeded because none really considered the usage of a common platform, adjusted for different types of games. They ended with products that couldn’t mix well if at all.

In such a scenario rpgs become an add on. Not about rules, but about how to use, say Magic, to roleplay. Or a Runebound look-a-like set in Magic’s world and rules. Ditto for Dungeontwister. Ditto for Chainmail. Or a combination of things from all or part of those games.

This gives a lot of freedom to players. A key PC is missing because the player can't make it to the game session today? No problem, we will play a sideline quest in boardgame drive, limiting the impact it can have on the campaign. The Magic fight is going really hot? Why not get into character mode and roleplay it? And so on.

All there needs to be is a stable common platform. I can see only a company able to deliver it at the present stage. And I'm not even a fan of its games.
 

Grimm6

Retired User
I'm just getting back into pen and paper "adventure" games after almost two decades. I had played some games when I was younger, and frankly ended up turned off by it. A lot of it had to do with the immaturity of my friends and I, and our inability to engage in a truly cooperative adventure. Rather than working together to take part in an interesting story, sessions became adversarial events usually resulting in TPKs at the hands of overzealous GMs. It's entirely possible that my friends and I were exceptionally immature or competitive, but frankly, I don't think so. I'm more inclined to think that RPGs, by their cooperative nature, are better enjoyed by a more mature crowd (25 and up, as sort of suggested above?). They play best when the participants exercise restraint, empathy, and an ability to move beyond their own ego in a way that is not often demonstrated (at least as far as I can see) in high schoolers and younger.

Don't take this as some elitist bash on younger kids. I'm not saying they shouldn't or can't play these games. If there are younger players that can enjoy the games, then great. Good for them. And I got the whole "We Are the World, the kids are the future, teach them well" angle. But I certainly think older people get more out of the role playing game experience. My point is that maybe role playing games shouldn't be made for younger kids. Certainly I wouldn't want to see the industry as a whole trend in that direction.
 

JSpektr

Yes, that's me.
Validated User
Not sure many 11 year old have $40 of disposable income on a regular basis.
Have you ever bought a console game? Do you know how much they cost?

The kids we're talking about have dozens of them. They spend more on games for their XBox or PS3 than you do on RPGs. Price isn't a barrier because RPGs are too expensive.

It's a barrier because most kids get a lot more out of a WoW expansion or Halo II than they do the Players Handbook.

If you want to capture the current generation, you need something rules lite and easy to get into, that gives them something they can't get out of a computer. Then if you're smart, you provide something akin to Map Tools on your company's site, so all the people you sold the game to can play it online.

Hell, start the game as an online chat room with GM and lite rules, and sell the "in person" edition of the game as an expansion. You'll get a lot farther doing that than you would trying to convince kids to do something that doesn't fit the way their generation thinks or games.
 

tweaker

Retired User
RPGs were more simple when I was a kid. I could quickly skim through the book and play. Today, the books are huge and intimidating, and I say that as someone who has played RPGs for the last 20 years.

Also, computer games are a lot easier to get into. And I can play them any time. RPGs have to evolve or die. I agree with the author.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
RPGs were more simple when I was a kid. I could quickly skim through the book and play. Today, the books are huge and intimidating, and I say that as someone who has played RPGs for the last 20 years.
I have to politely suggest that if you think modern games are more complex than many games from the 80's that you had a selective exposure to same. I'll direct you to almost the entirety of the FGU lines as just an example, but they were far from alone.
 

Old Geezer

New member
Banned
I'm more inclined to think that RPGs, by their cooperative nature, are better enjoyed by a more mature crowd (25 and up, as sort of suggested above?). They play best when the participants exercise restraint, empathy, and an ability to move beyond their own ego in a way that is not often demonstrated (at least as far as I can see) in high schoolers and younger.
Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax originally developed OD&D for adult wargamers. Those of us under 18 were there because invited, and because we could 'play like adults'.


It's a barrier because most kids get a lot more out of a WoW expansion or Halo II than they do the Players Handbook.

If you want to capture the current generation, you need something rules lite and easy to get into, that gives them something they can't get out of a computer.
Also, computer games are a lot easier to get into. And I can play them any time.
I downloaded the free World of Warcraft demo some time ago.

The BIGGEST challenge online games present to the tabletop game hobby? You can be experiencing MEANINGFUL content -- that is, playing the main part of the game -- as little as ten minutes after the first time you boot up the game.

Now, downloading and installing the son of a bitch took a lot of time, but it was passive time, not time where I had to focus on "learning the game".

That's hard to compete with; a game where it takes several hours of preparation to play, versus a game where you simply play. Preparation here not only includes reading the rules, but preparing the world, the adventures, the NPCs, etc.

We always thought the preparation was the fun part, but not everybody does. I don't know if there is a way to make it more appealing.

But I reiterate what I said before; the glory days of RPGs are gone. We will never again see 1978 - 1982, when sales of D&D alone were more than what industry experts* say sales for the entire industry is now.

















* Paul Chapman of Steve Jackson Games, for one.
 

Hyrum

Be a Genius!
There are studies somewhere that the nerve sheathing in the brain required to enjoy reading doesn't really develop until 10-12. Gaming is a 25+ hobby because gaming is expensive. Books are in the $25-$40 range now. Some of the stuff I was buying in middle school in 91-91 was $12. Those children with access to gamer parents who will buy them books, still game. On the other hand money is tight for a lot of folks right now. Not sure many 11 year old have $40 of disposable income on a regular basis.
You're not figuring into your equation the rise in inflation. According to the US gov't, a $12 book in 1991 would cost almost $20 today. Figure that the book has better art, better production values, and might even be in color, and you're making out alright these days. :)

Hyrum.
 

MDarcy

Gamer for life
Validated User
I'm more inclined to think that RPGs, by their cooperative nature, are better enjoyed by a more mature crowd (25 and up, as sort of suggested above?). They play best when the participants exercise restraint, empathy, and an ability to move beyond their own ego in a way that is not often demonstrated (at least as far as I can see) in high schoolers and younger.
OG can correct me if I'm wrong, but I've always been under the impression that the typical gamer at the creation was in his 20s or 30s. My best memories of gaming in the late 70s/early 80s was in groups where I was the baby. As I've been pointing out a lot lately (because I think it's an important insight) RPGs stayed with me because they were the social activity I transitioned into adulthood with. That is, they were the first place adults treated me like a peer and not a kid.

The worst thing to happen to the hobby was for it to become a teenage fad in the 80s. Not only for the reason most commonly cited: it created unrealistic expectations of how much money could be made in it but for a much more damaging reason in my opinion. It made it into a kids thing. Adults who play them must be losers because it's for kids.

To take OG's other games above: mah-jong and contract bridge. Most adults don't play them, but they don't think adults who do are odd.

So to me the future of the hobby is in groups of adults who reach out in various ways to teenagers other than their kids and provide that play where you sort out being part of an adult peer group.

As for the industry...for its future look to other niche hobbies and lifestyles: the SCA/boffer LARPs, the goth scene, etc. Lots of cottage industries doing professional work out of devotion to a scene/hobby and not to get rich. A handful actually making a living at it. That's most of our industry now but we don't want to admit that's the best we can expect.
 

Shane Cubis

Australian Legend
Validated User
For mine, the problems you're talking about here are the same problems currently being faced by, for example, the Australian Diplomacy hobby. The stalwarts of the group are aging, moving on, dropping out of the hobby...

...and no-one's making an effort to recruit new blood.

If you want to have new, young players of role-playing games, you can't expect them to buy the 4E core rules gift set and a set of dice on a whim, then invite their mates round to learn the game. Maybe that's how you did it back in the day, but it's supremely unlikely to happen now (for a variety of reasons, some mentioned above).

When I was (briefly) a casual primary school teacher, I set up a whole day of activities based around role-playing. It culminated in a simple dungeon, a slightly modified Fighting Fantasy rules system, each table of six kids containing a co-GM and five adventurers...and me at the front of the classroom, reading flavour text, drawing maps on the blackboard, using my co-GMs as callers for each party.

It was glorious chaos, and you better believe some of those kids wanted blank character sheets and a copy of my rules at the end of the day.

In short, if you wanna see a new generation of tabletop role-players, you gotta recruit them. Cos those that arise spontaneously are going to head straight for the compucomp.
 
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