Sunday, May 21, 2006

I guess it had to happen eventually

Some of y'all probably know of my dislike for Ryan Dancey, the engineer of the D20/OGL movement. I still feel like he ought to be tarred, feathered, and run out of the hobby on a rail for the whole GAMA election fiasco. But that doesn't mean everything the guy says or does is wrong. I'm not so small minded to think that just because a guy is a jerk that he can't be right. Here's Mr. Dancey responding to a comment on Mike Mearls's livejournal:
but my nearest FLGS that stocks minis is about a 45 minute drive, and there's
> no guarantee that they have what I want

Here's 20% of the systemic, unfixable problems with brick & mortar hobby game stores. 5 years ago, most people would have treated a 45 minute drive to a game store stocked with cool stuff with money in hand and intention to buy as "Sunday afternoon fun". Today, the FLGS isn't generating enough value vs. the other options to get a guy who works in a game company and who knows how fragile the game store channel is to get there and go shopping. That is absolutely not an attack on Mike in any way; it's symptomatic of the whole problem: B&M game stores *DON'T* offer more value (in many cases) to the other options, and market forces are reacing accordingly.
I agree completely with Mr. Dancey's assessment of the situation. It used to be that my friends and I piling into my mom's station wagon to drive 45 minutes to Adventureland (RIP) in Bloomington, Illinois was an event. Now that same three quarters of an hour would just be a pain in the ass. Adventureland may be gone, but you can still find stores like it. Heck, it's been a month, maybe two since I've been to the FLGS that's a two-minute walk from my office. Why is that? Because on one hand I have online vendors that make shopping from them cheap and easy and on the other hand I have a filthy, overcrowded stinkhole with boxes on the floor that I'm constantly tripping over. What do I gain by that two minute walk? Not a whole lot past the ability to pick over the used section. And in most instances the prices in the used section do not compare well with eBay. Maybe if the play venues at the local stores were better I'd feel different. I'd like a place where I could down and play a nice RPGA event and not feel like I was slumming.

So anyway, let it be noted that on this point I agree with Ryan Dancey. I still think he's a jerk, but in this case he's not wrong.