[MUD-Dev] "sweeping change"?

Sellers Sellers
Tue Nov 20 10:21:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Michael Tresca wrote:
> Mike Sellers posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 9:36 PM
>> Not this time.  I really enjoy table-top gaming too, from
>> Settlers of Catan to D&Dv3 these days.  But paper RPG games are
>> today's buggy whips: no one but deeply insular aficionados know
>> or care about them.  GAMA conventions are sad, lonely halls of
>> people barely hanging on to their dreams and trying not to think
>> about their second mortgages and print runs of 5000 that may not
>> sell.

> This is such a revealing, ignorant statement that I find myself
> paralyzed trying to comprehend the implications of it all.  It's
> bad enough it started with Raph, but to arrogantly pronounce
> pen-and-paper RPGs as dead is to deny the hundreds, if not
> thousands, of attendees at Gen Con.  Young attendees, I might add.

Well, it all depends on your goals.  If we're talking about
ultra-niche hobbies, then paper RPGs are at least as "alive" as
bone-shaker bicycles and Space:1999 fan clubs.  These groups and
hundreds of others like them also have huge conventions not unlike
GenCon; and yet none of them could be considered to be widely
popular pastimes.  OTOH, if we're talking about paper RPGs as a
source of "sweeping change," it's a different story.  I stand by
what I said above: outside of Hasbro (who bought Wizards of the
Coast, who bought TSR (at fire sale prices), who made D&D), there's
just not much of a market for paper RPGs.  In the micro sense,
they're as alive as your gaming group makes them.  In the macro
sense, they're the furthest thing from a robust, world-changing

> ... this new thread has really revealed those statements to be
> quite accurate -- it's not just "We're not role-players," it's
> "We're not role-players and you stupid role-players know nothing
> about gaming!"

I'm not sure how you got any of that from what Raph or I said.  I'm
a long-time paper RPGer, and I believe Raph is too.  Most online
game people are (there's one or two vibrant D&Dv3 campaigns going on
after hours in our office).

But that doesn't change the reality that most -- nearly all, and
maybe *all* -- paper RPGs are hanging on by their fingernails, and
could vanish pretty much any time (if you think Hasbro is above
this, I'll direct you to the graves of SPI and AH).  Paper RPGs are
cool, but they've largely been superceded by computer games (online
and offline), and this trend shows no sign of reversing.

>   6) Is it commercially viable?  Thanks to the open gaming license
>   (OGL) of Wizards of the Coast, you're damned straight it is.  I
>   counted no less than 30 new gaming companies that were at Gen
>   Con, all around the OGL.

Let's see how many are around next year, and how many of those are
left have sold out their first printing.

I've done or invested in a number of speculative ventures, in and
out of gaming, but personally I wouldn't consider paper gaming to be
"commercially viable" today with *my* money (as much as I'd love for
it to be otherwise).

> And there it is.  We feel role-playing is dead because as adults,
> it's hard to really role-play.

No, I believe paper RPGs are commercially dead because I've
researched the sector and understand the demographics and sales
trends of those in that market.  Fewer people are playing paper RPGs
because we've aged and those who might have started playing them as
we did at 10 or 15 years old have instead gravitated toward more
visual, interactive, and immediate computer games.

> The convenience of MMORPGs, or CRPGs, is their immediate
> availability. But there are, and always will be, downsides.  As a
> veteran of Internet games since pre-Web, I encountered enough
> people that I no longer WANT to game with random strangers.  I
> want to game with all my buddies -- basically, try to recreate the
> RPG experience.  But we're older.  My friends have moved.  I have
> moved.  When we do get together, time is so precious, it's hard to
> tell the wife, "We're going to game for the rest of the day, we'll
> socialize next year."  This is what the people want.  Neverwinter
> Nights will prove me out.

Maybe.  I hope NWN is successful.  I have my doubts though.

Mike Sellers
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