Friday, December 02, 2005

Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads! (a rant)

Do you think that hula hoops will ever come back? Will poodle skirts ever again be the Next Big Thing that all the chicks wear? Do you buy into the idea that the music world will see a re-emergence of ragtime as the primary form of popular music? No?

Then what on earth makes you think that roleplaying games will ever be as popular as they were in the 80's?!?

Let's get this out on the table: D&D was a fad in the mid-eighties. Nothing more, nothing less. Like any other fad a handful of social misfits continued to hold it near and dear to their hearts long after the rest of the world stopped caring. You and I are those rejects. And our beloved hobby will almost assuredly never reach the heights it did back in the day. Just get over it, please! Don't attempt to position RPGs in the mainstream. They were already there and the mainstream world moved on.

No licensed property or blockbuster movie will drive people back into the hobby. Stop acting like a new golden age of RPGs lies just around the corner. That golden age is already happening right now at a thousand tables where people are playing the games they love. The people who are at this very moment rolling dice aren't worried about the place RPGs hold in the world at large, nor are they dithering about whether there will be another generation of RPGers. Of course there will be more roleplayers, just like you can find barbershop quartets made up of people who aren't a million years old.

In short: Shut up and play, fanboy.


  1. Preach it, brotha!

    So I suppose in 5-10 years will hear the Scrapbookers bemoaning the fact that Scrapbooking is on the decline. "We need to bring new blood into the Scrapbooking Hobby!!!! How will it survive, otherwise!?!?!?!?!". F*ck that, it's an f'in HOBBY or FAD or WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT THAT HAS COME AND GONE AND WILL COME AGAIN. I love the hobby of gaming in general and some of the most fun I've had is rpg'ing with da boyz, but kee-rist man, we weren't performing brain surgery.

    People said the same thing about the comics industry, that it was dead. Last time I checked, it was still around, maybe not as large as when it peaked, but still around. Everything ebbs and flows, surrounds us, binds, wrong movie..:)

    I can understand why people who are on the business side of things want to infuse new life into the RPG hobby, their livelyhood depends on it...

    It's not like if I'm a homebrewer and it's harder to buy some necessary equipment.

    As a consumer, in a hobby that only asks that I have a set of dice/cards/randomizer, a pencil, paper, a friend or 3 and my imagination. I can game for now until the end of time.

  2. Coming out of rant mode and responding rationally to your comment, I suppose D&D could be reinvented, repackaged, and remarketed to the world at large. To what end, though? I already go through long periods of alienation from the modern iterations of D&D and I don't think I'm the only longtime player that feels that way from time to time. What good would it be to save roleplaying if by doing so we have to transform it into something unrecognizable to the loyal fans? (Incidentally, this same criticism can be applied to the efforts at the Forge to move the emphasis away from D&D to games like Soap.)

  3. I'm a prime example of fresh blood in RPG. I've been playing GURPS with my cousin and a few of her friends. They've been playing TimeCorp agents for 7 years, meeting every Sunday. I always resisted RPG's because I assumed RPG's were just D&D...and fantasy just isn't my thing. I think if more horror/sci-fi people realized there were literally endless scenarios to play out that more people might get involved. Truth is, I would have never gotten into them if it weren't for my I can't wait for Sunday to roll around so I can get in character!

  4. Anonymous12:03 AM

    2 weeks ago I saw about 15 people of various creeds, hula hooping at the end of the panhandle of golden gate park. They looked pretty into it, but were also looking around alot to see if people were checking them out. I hope its not making a comeback. Maybe it was just Cirque du Soleil pplz practicing.
    Fingers Crossed.

  5. No, it won't be as popular as it once was, but these games can still grow and change and be exciting and new for each generation. Music genres grow and change with each generation, and as I don't want to return to doo wap, I do understand how someone from that time period may have enjoyed it.

  6. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Poker got a pretty good resurgence from the movie Rounders, around ten years after it was made. Prime-time poker, WPT, ESPN, and I think more people knew of it later on than in its 'fad' days.

  7. Anonymous12:06 PM

    *stands and applauds*

    Besides, do we want people who come to our hobby just because they saw it on MTV or whatever?

    I'd rather have the hardcore nerds and "greybeards" Of which I consider myself to belong too.

  8. I have my poodle skirt ready for its inevitable comeback, actually.

  9. Hmm. Not disagreeing, but I'm thinking that D&D was never actually as popular "as it used to be." What I mean by that non sequiter is that it burst onto the public consciousness and became a part of pop culture and I think there were prolly a fair amount of boxed sets bought for Christmas presents and such that never got played. So in a pop culture - hey this is a new thing sense - it was definetly a fad. But even then there were a lot of people who made fun of the players and acted all superior to such folk. I wonder if the numbers of people actually playing the game in the early '80's was any more than now. I bet there are actually more players in total now than there were then. That's my sense of it anyway.

  10. I started gaming in the early 80's. You couldn't throw a die without hitting a gamer. These days the numbers just aren't there, and from what I've seen its a large part "old timers" like me. For a hobby to thrive, you need new blood, and much of it. I just don't see that happening now.

    Simply put, at 16 I knew about 2 dozen gamers in 2 states. My son is 16, refuses to game pen and pencil, and knows of no classmates that do (he has asked... cautiously ;)

  11. Anonymous4:01 PM

    While I agree with the original post, the sentiments of some of the commenters seem to be along the lines of, "you can't get new people to play D&D, its all a bunch of old timers, yada yada."

    To that I ask - have you tried to get people who know nothing about D&D to play it? I mean really give it an honest try, not acting like it was something to be ashamed of, not assuming that they will say no, and just asking friends, colleagues and acquaintences if they would like to sit in on a session?

    I have introduced over a dozen people to pen and paper RPGs in the last several months simply by asking. Their ages ranged from 15 to 30 and there is not a grey beard in the mix (not to mention several women who have no beards what-so-ever!).

    Sorry, I just get tired of hearing about it. I know 2 dozen gamers in one small city in Oregon and I know that is just the tip of the iceberg.

  12. I can think of at least fifty gamers (Roleplayers, hobbyists, whatever term you want to use) around my hometown of Cleveland - and this is off the top of my head.

    In my experience - which yes, I realize differs greatly from those many longtime gamers - RPG's are something that people pick up in highschool or College, and they're bloody everywhere.

    What's more, the population seems to mirror that of society at large - roughly equal amounts of both genders, and most minorities represented in, well, a minority.

    The thought that RP'ing was the purview of middle-aged-to-old white dudes, who would all sneer down their nose at me for not being the same, well, this kept me out of gaming until my twenties. Somewhat atypically, I finally succumbed to the overtures of my gamer roomate, primarily to spend more time around attractive, brilliant women. My introduction to gaming was pretty much comprised of the smartest and brightest people around me, and that's stayed kind of true. When I was a touring rock musician, we'd roll 20's in the green room. Computer Science, Engineering, Poly-Sci, anything Communication related - some majors/fields just seem to teem with gamers, or at least potential gamers.

    My thought, as a member of what is apparently "the new generation of gamers?"

    Give people some credit. Gaming means different things to different people. Vin Diesel games. The dudes in Weezer Game (Rivers Cuomo had a random-roll chart to determine set lists for a while, I don't know if he still uses it.) Every Gorram Computer Programmer I know games. Law students and Lawyers game. Rock musicians game. People Game.


    I guess it's a good time to be a gamer. I didn't game in the 80's or 90's, so I suppose I can't really compare.

    I guess, go us?

  13. Addendum: There is also a crazy homeless woman who Hula Hoops downtown when there are sporting events.

    She has a tip jar and whatnot, but I think she's just got a passion for Hula Hooping. Point being, I acknowledge that I live in a strange place.

  14. Anonymous8:34 PM

    Hooping is a good example. Hula hooping was a mega-fad at one time. But that doesn't mean it's died out. Most kids know what a hula hoop is and had one at one point, even today. And there is a growth hobby of otherwise largely sane adults "hooping" - here in Austin, which is heavy on the hippies, there are regular weekly meetups. A mini-resurgence; certainly not going to be as big as its initial huge faddiness.

    I'm not even interested in everyone playing D&D, but I think it would be nice if most kids got introduced to it at some point and knew it existed, so they could do it if they liked it, and people could get together unashamedly to have gaming get-togethers. So the hula hoop is probably an excellent analogy.

  15. Anonymous12:53 AM

    The WOTC staff need to print out this blog entry and staple it to their collective foreheads before trying to compete with WoW ever again.

    It's folly to attempt to turn bicyclists into motorcyclists or vice versa, which is what they've tried to do. They wanted to prevent D&D from going the way of mini wargames, but the way to do that is building a better bicycle, not adding a motor to it gradually and hoping for conversion.

  16. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Hmmm. Strange post. Sometimes I think D&D players and others in the RPG world *want* to be considered outcasts. In the early 80s it was as popular as any fad. I would guess about 20% of the kids in school at the time (mostly guys), were playing it. When the dreaded 'geek' label was then applied, and then the religious backlash in an age when everyone was talking about the occult, that's when the numbers started to dwindle. By the time I was in college in the mid-late 80s, it was already in the 'social outcast' world. Unlike when I first heard of it in 81, when most who played it were on the various sporting teams and popular students.

    It sometimes seems as if D&D players consider this an exclusive club. You need to be 'into it', or you're not welcome. As if they were thrilled when all of those popular kids, those jocks, those class presidents, and those most likely to succeed types finally left the room so they could get back to business.

    Could D&D be big again? In this world? With the potential market of anything being in the billions? Sure it could. Only if the powers that be thought it worth their time though. But with an established base that seems to have the 'stay out of our world' still hung on the door, it might not be worth trying.