Doc & Spike Versus The Zombie Ninjas

…mostly, we talked them to death

People who know Spike Y Jones and myself are laughing and nodding over that one:)

It’s The DEEAATTHHH Of Roleplaying!!!

I’ve been a player of tabeletop RPGs for coming up on 33 years now (insert “HOLY SHIT!” here) and almost from day one, I’ve heard people talk about the imminent collapse and death of the industry/hobby. Everything from gamers growing older to increased prices for gaming books to computer games (especially computer RPGs) has been listed as the final nail in the coffin. Several times, the industry has done a really good impression of heading into the dumpster, but the much discussed death has never happened.

But that has never stopped gamers from writing/talking about it. Some present their argument in great detail, some just give a pissy rant based on the fact that the new RPG hotness that they just bought cost $50.00 and some just love talking about gloom & doom. I’ve read reasonable discussions on the subject in print fanzines and long drawn out name calling bitchfests on about a hundred websites. I’ve had people look me in the face and say World of Warcraft would destroy RPGing in a couple of years. That, by the way, was about 5 years ago.

So here are my newly revised thoughts on the death of the roleplaying hobby/industry.

It won’t happen soon. The roleplaying hobby will continue to lose ground to CRPGs and whatever new techno coolness comes along, but it won’t die out. Even when all of us old timers have gone the way of Norwegian Blue Parrots, there will still be some people out there getting together to bulllshit, hang out and kill things so they can loot the bodies. Even when the inevitable killer computer RPG comes along, allowing a group to explore a computer generated world that the GM can have full control of, the hobby will not die. We’ll just all be sitting around wearing out VR outfits, bullshitting and hanging out and killing and looting online.

Now, the RPG industry as we currently know it might die off. To be honest though, I think it will mutate just like the hobby will. Once some slick computer game company develops the basic algorythms for a real online version of tabletop RPGs, I can see all of the popular game settings porting over and taking the best of the game designers with them. Would you pay to play in a CRPG setting designed by Robin Laws or Steve Kenson or Ken Hite? I sure as hell would.

What will suffer badly, but not die off, will be the creation of new gaming rules systems. If the computer handles all of the details, allowing you to build whatever character you want and the GM allows, the need for you or the GM to know a shitload of rules pretty much vanishes. The design of new rules will become a very limited profession. Also, the dice companies will all go belly up.

So no, I don’t see the hobby or the industry dying off. Getting older to the point of looking like one of those folks that lives to 110, yes. Mutating into a computer/online based lifeform, certainly. Tabletop play becoming an even more obscure pastime, absolutely. But dying off completely, nope.

And that’s my two cents on the matter. Until next time:)

Walter News

Barring some astounding influx of votes for another profession, Walter is on track to work at a water treatment plant. A new poll will appear tonight or tomorrow.

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3 comments on “Doc & Spike Versus The Zombie Ninjas

  1. sammywol says:

    And if one’s first response is Season 5 Buffy then the rest of the post makes perfect sense.

  2. I think the best summation of our hobby is that we were the model railroaders of the 80’s. Even the big resurgence at the time of 3e is a result of people that played in the 80’s discovering that they had free time (from careers and raising kids) again. We are a small hobby. And just as the model railroaders of the 70’s continue to survive as a specialist hobby, so will we. There will be a gentle influx of new blood, but nothing major.
    The big problem at the moment is that the recession limits the amount of disposable income can be spent on games, and in the wake of the D20 boom there are a large number of companies vying for that spare dollar. The creation of new publication media (PDF and POD) means that an “indie” games market is more viable than it ever has been before. Which is even more competition for the dollar. This all makes it doubtful that the industry can support much in the way of professional designers.
    Then again, the big secret of our hobby is that we really don’t need the rules to play it, do we?
    I do think you underestimate the social nature of gaming as well in your estimation of the effect of a good computer tabletop rpg package appearing. Friends will continue to gather to game in preference to running stuff in a computer screen. Although that being said, many CRPG players I know gather together physically and then go quest in a game together.

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