Why Fantasy?

Reynard

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Why, I wonder, are tabletop role-playing games dominated by the fantasy genre or genres close to it (urban fantasy, dark fantasy and science fantasy)?

I don't think it is just because D&D was first. It has been 40 years and we have seen literally thousands of RPGs in all manner of genres, and still fantasy games seem to dominate. Is it that the people drawn to TTRPGs have an inherent interest in fantasy (more than, say, hard sci fi or westerns)? Is it that fantasy is somehow easier to play than other genres?

Thoughts?
 

Blackwingedheaven

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Because D&D was f-

I don't think it is just because D&D was first.
Oh. Okay. =3

Seriously, though, "fantasy" has become so synonymous with Tolkien and his inheritors in the western mindset that it's easy to get everyone the same page, while if you say "sci-fi" or "horror" there's no similarly unifying premise. That's really a lot of it.
 

FoolishOwl

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My guesses:

People feel that medieval technology and culture is easy to comprehend, and science fiction technology and future culture is more difficult to comprehend (Arguably, in practice, they're about equally fantastic and comprehensible.)

Fantasy tends to have a smaller scale. Settlements are smaller, distances travelled are shorter, and so on. Science fiction tends to emphasize its enormous scale: giant cities, starships with thousands of crew, FTL travel, and so on. This leads to a tendency to render things abstractly, which may seem less satisfying.
 

bottg

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People have always told stories of the fantastic. Even the earliest Literature (Epic of Gilgamesh for example) is a fantasy story. Most myths and legends feature monsters, treasure, strange peoples and magic. I think that humans are just naturally interested in Fantasy, and that spills over into gaming.
 

NathanS

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One: how are we defining "fantasy" here?

But also its because D&D IS the industry. Its not just the first one, its the only one with any sort of consent success and any amount of mainstream penetration, that by and large D&D and TTRPG are synonymous. And this does lead to self selection, if you're not interested in fantasy, especially Tolkien fantasy then you won't be interested in D&D and are therefore likely to bounce off of TTRPGs all together. And even in fantasy stuff the further you get from a handful of molds, the biggest being D&D's take on fantasy the rarer things get. How often do we see all of Japan current pop culture output lumped together as 'anime' in TTRPG circles? How Kung-fu action movies and Wuxia treated as interchangeable, or even wuxia as just "Tolkien fantasy but with different a names?"
 

CoreyHaim8myDog

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Fantasy more directly plugs into the the collective unconscious, Campbell's monomyth, etc. Star Wars is fantasy. Star Trek sci-fi. One makes a lot more money.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
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How often do we see all of Japan current pop culture output lumped together as 'anime' in TTRPG circles? How Kung-fu action movies and Wuxia treated as interchangeable, or even wuxia as just "Tolkien fantasy but with different a names?"
How often does a new fantasy game turn out to be some sort of heartbreaker based on someone's houseruled version of D&D?

A lot of any form of story-telling is someone ripping off a story that came before. Because D&D was first it was the first thing everyone started copying, and that's kept going till the present.
 

Reynard

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If you believe there is a connection between film grosses and pop cultural trends, only 1 of the top 10 grossing films is fantasy. Four are superhero movies, 3 are star wars moves and 1 is a Fast and Furious film. A straight up sci-fi film is number one.

It seems like from a nerdverse perspective at least the most popular RPG should be Marvel based.
 

LatinaBunny

Suburban Angel
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Well, besides the fact that D&D was first and is popular (and thus has many editions and games based on its influence, etc), I think fantasy is just more easier to do some types of fantastic stuff with, and we’ve been telling fantastic stories since forever.

At least, that’s the one of the reasons why I tend to prefer fantasies over scifi as a genre.

With scifi, there is more scrutiny in the use of tech and technobabble, alien stuff, etc, that is more harder for me to get into.

For me, there is also something nostalgic and romantic about fantasy. (But fantasy can also be as gritty as you want it as well, of course.)

Also, magic. Magic can do so much! :) I love magic. ^_^

Just spitting out my reason for liking fantasy as a genre in general and for preferring to buy fantasy or fantasy-like rpgs for as well. Perhaps there are other people who think similar to me?

But I still think it’s partly because of D&D. I’ve seen (and have been one of those) people who associate the hobby with D&D.
 
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Dalillama

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People feel that medieval technology and culture is easy to comprehend, and science fiction technology and future culture is more difficult to comprehend (Arguably, in practice, they're about equally fantastic and comprehensible.)
Not so much 'easily comprehensible' as 'the same across a lot of settings'. Your average fantasy setting has swords, bows, horses & sailing ships, and those work basically the same way in all of them. So the only bits that need detailed explanation are the setting specific rules about magic and monsters, because those are different, setting to setting. Whereas scifi, well, are there rockets? Reactionless drives? What are the limits on those locally? Is FTL a point to point system with hypergates or warp currents or wormholes, or do you just point your ship and go? How fast? Is FTL even possible? How about artificial gravity? Are there lasers? Gauss guns? Just ordinary chemical propellant guns? Is medical technology cyberware or regeneration tanks? Etc. Etc. Etc. A science fiction setting needs a lot more upfront description/definition that a fantasy setting can do without.
 
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