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RPGs in Peril?

January 2, 2012

Recently I’ve been reading the articles about the state of DnD and RPGs in general. In my own little RPG-filled bubble it seemed to me that RPGs were doing just fine. While having a niche audience, they seemed healthy enough. Even in our little town of Asheville, NC we have three Friendly Local Gaming Stores. Or I should say had.

The articles about the contraction of the hobby really hit home when I read yesterday that Blitzkrieg games would be closing for the winter. They played host to our fledgling Pathfinder Lodge, and had one of the most pleasant gaming retail spaces I had ever seen. Their facebook post indicates they’re just closing for the winter, but who knows what that really means. If they couldn’t afford to stay open, how could they afford to pay rent in downtown Asheville? I hope for the best, but am prepared for the worst.

In the meantime, I’ve convinced a lot of the other Skyland guys to give this Pathfinder Society thing a try before we head down to SCARAB, and now we’re looking for a venue. Hopefully one of the other shops will step up to the plate, but judging by their schedules they may not have room for us. Saturday is filled with Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Warhammer 40k, etc.

This also made me think of the average age of RPG players. I’m about to turn 31 in two weeks, and I’ve been on the young end of the spectrum at many gaming tables. I’m the youngest guy at Skyland Games.

Does this represent a microcosm of the gaming industry as a whole? Fragmented, aging and contracting? What can we do about it? I think the best thing we can do is spread the love of tabletop RPGs to the next generation. A lot of kids who grew up in the 80s heyday of D&D and RPGs in general are now having kids. When mom and dad have a bunch of weird looking dice, and a shelf full of monsters and creatures of all types that can have a big influence on their kids and that kid’s friends.

MMORPGs, incredible console games, flash games, and casual games provide more distractions than ever. Its important to remember that its not a binary choice. Just because you play one type of game doesn’t mean you will never try anything else. Many people who play pencil and paper RPGs have played world of warcraft or skyrim because we love the genre. The most important thing we can do is make sure that option is available to the next generation and keep inspiring imaginations. Host an event at the library, start a blog, or show a kid what a d20 looks like. The future of RPGs is up to us.

Categories: DnD, Lore, News, Pathfinder, RPGs Tags: , ,
  1. January 2, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Is the TRPG market shrinking? Yes. But so is the video game market, Comic book market, book market, television and just about every other market in the world. Change is the only constant. As long as you keep innovating and being creative is what you are working in you should be OK. Everyone stop with this “doom and gloom” outlook.

    • January 2, 2012 at 11:29 am

      I agree, and Dancey did mention in his post about the “flight to quality” during tough times. I tried to end this post on a bit of an up note. The more of us that are ambassadors for our hobby, the healthier the industry will be as a whole.

  2. January 3, 2012 at 12:18 am

    I’ve seen many young gamers join our ranks since 2008. While the industry is always precarious, I don’t feel that gamers will all die of old age and take the industry with them. Instead, I’m feeling that we are about to see a fair amount of growth and both age and gender diversity. Part of that will be by attracting video gamers (and let’s face it, this is increasingly _everybody_) that want variety.

    • January 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

      I agree. I think all-game conventions such as PAX that cater to all video games, board games, and RPGs do a great service to the gaming community encouraging people to try different things.

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