June 14, 2009

The Public’s View of RPGs

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 8:46 pm

I was in a B&N recently and as part of a general “Local Author’s” thing I was demoing Squirrel Attack! At first I had the usual polite “What is this?” kind of crowd but then it turned into a lot of “I never knew DND could be like this!”. Now, I am not saying they were blown away by the system so much as the setting. I am starting to think the only people who get blown away by setting are the die hard gamers. Most folks are much more engaged at the setting level. Perhaps because of the ease of understanding it or because it is much more interesting to them than an endless list of rules and exceptions (which is what sever “Moms” confided in me the rules of any game they played seemed like). Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not a case of system can be as complex or simple as you like, but more one of the average joe is going to look at it and it wont matter if it is Iridium, True20 or DND. They just want it to work and be relatively simple to learn. I think that gets glossed over a bit too much in RPGer circles.


  1. I think part of that is the fact that we (as gamers) want to appear to be intelligent, to be able to have some kind of ‘advantage’ over the non gamers, ie, we want games to appear mystical, convuluted and cryptic

    it ups our egos:.)

    after all, we take enough stick for being nerdy and gamers we may as well get something back:.)

    Comment by Alan HUme — June 15, 2009 @ 1:07 am

  2. I agree and more, I would say it is in the roots of the hobby. It is the manner that games have evolved over time and what self reinforcing factors have guided that. It comes to what gamers call “evolution” of game design. Games have become, on average, more and more cryptic and/or arcane. By this I mean not necessarily longer or larger but more abstracted from mainstream game experience. This is kind of funny if you think about the rise in CRPGs as they represent my point very well. With CRPGs it is not necessarily how you do something but what (can I blast the guy with my eye lasers?) and where (setting).

    Again, only a theory but one I am finding has more and more credence.

    Comment by bilbo — June 15, 2009 @ 8:39 am

  3. Many systems are not as complex as they seem, and are, in fact, easy enough to learn. However, to the average person looking at it from the sidelines, it looks complex and “mystical”. Many people are intrigued by the idea, but afraid that it’s too dificult to get in to. They mistakenly beleive only dedicated gamers, willing to take a lot of extra time, can really get into the hobby and are scared off. I encounter this way too often and have to try to explain that playing is easy, but running a game sometimes can take a lot of reference material (multiple books). Unfortunatly, it’s an uphill battle. But one I’m willing to fight!

    Comment by scott — June 15, 2009 @ 11:41 am

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