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video killed the radio star (a gloomy post)
hattifattener
richardthinks
Anyone whose understanding of roleplaying history doesn't include the words 'videogames killed tabletop roleplaying' isn't playing with a full deck.

As long as D&D is the major outward-facing text of the RPG industry, said industry will always be identified with escapist juvenilia, power fantasies, and the worst sort of generic-fantasy codswallop. Videogames are that plus awesome moving pictures, so they win.

Wally, in response to Grognardia's recent bit of flamebait

I think he's got a point, which is one reason I've been surprised by commentary I've seen on 4e, which doesn't seem to capitalise on the unique selling points of the TTRPG experience. But:

if video killed the tabletop, I think that's partly because it nabbed so many of the TT designers, with such attractions as reliable monthly wages. It might also be to do with a generalised cultural shift away from board- and parlour-gaming toward solitary screen-based entertainment, a shift that had gathered a broad public only 10-20 years before 1974, the eventual effects of which were then only starting to become apparent. Maybe it has something to do with the way computers have conquered all parts of our work, leisure and social lives, and the arc of RPGs in the age of computers triumphant is comparable to those of other non-screen entertainment and interaction. They never found a family niche, instead spreading from the older wargamers who invented them to schoolkids and teenagers, exactly the videogame demographic, but they required social time from this demographic - something parents, school schedules and he demands of adolescence were reluctant to give them.

Or maybe, just maybe, James is right and RPGs were inevitably a fad - one with a long tail, to be sure, and possibly open to re-fadding (like card-collecting), but a phenomenon with a lifespan. After all, RPGs require a great deal of investment from their players in time, imagination and effort, which is why they're called "hobby games." As hobbies go, they're more like model railways than home improvement or golf: they don't generate family-building or business-building social capital. They happened to be born at a cultual moment when deciding for yourself what to do with your time was fashionable: no matter how far Lake Geneva might have been from California or Woodstock, all of them were about DIY entertainment, taking a break from the business of business (or deferring entry to it), and hanging out. Who has time now to bum around India for 6 months, or live in a commune, or spend hours writing and crafting games? And then we can't forget how the image of RPGs and RPGers has developed over the past 30 years: it's relatively easy to imagine a popular gaming tent at Woodstock, much harder to see it being a vibrant part of Burning Man. They're just not very punk.

Maybe RPGs needed their initial novelty, mystery and specific environment to ever take off in the first place. They'll probably need to get those factors back for their next incarnation, if they're going to have one.


Hey, I'm asmodean66 on grognardia. Saw your link - I think another big reason video games are killing TTRPGs is that they're far more accessable. For example, when my gaming group gets together for D&D night, it requires people to drive up to an hour each way to get there. If I wanted to play World of Warcraft, I could call my friends on the phone and be playing in minutes. For people our age, with families and work responsibilities, it's tough to schedule a large block or recreation time and justify spending much of that time in the car.

that's kind of what I meant by a large investment - absolutely.

Regarding accessibility in another sense, that's also a big issue I think: computer game developers devote a lot of time and effort to making their games easy to pick up. To some extent they depend on a language developed by previous games, which they assume their players will speak, but they also test and revise and test and revise to fine tune the new player's route into the game, because they know that if they get that right, their development time will be paid for in greater sales. TTRPGs have become more readable, but I don't think they are anything like as playable straight-out-of-the-box, even today.

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