Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Growing the Hobby?

One of the blogs I follow is hosting the RPG Blog Carnival, with the subject of 'Growing the Hobby'. A timely subject when one hears of falling sales and hard times. People have been predicting doom for a while now, with even the former head of D&D claiming that the end of PnP RPG era is approaching.

Maybe they're right. Maybe they're not. Time will tell. I know I'll be playing them for a good while longer because nothing else does what they do for me.

Back to original question. Reduced to its basics, 'Growing the Hobby' means gaining new RPG players. While regaining older lapsed players add numbers to the current pool, its not new ground and does little for the long term. So, yes new players...

Not really a subject I care about much. Not when phrased that way.

Now I have introduced many new players to the hobby, but never considered it as anything beyond growing my own group. In fact, I'm rather certain it didn't grow the 'hobby' because I doubt they'll ever play in a campaign outside the ones we do ourselves.

Yes, we're that good. And yes, the play style we have is going out of fashion when viewed with respect to the hobby as a whole (if the current games being produced actually reflect that hobby). So much so on that last point that I really don't care of the 'hobby' dies, because it hasn't been supporting me for a while now anyway.

If I had a larger ego, I'd claim at this point that if the industry made games I'd like to use, the hobby would grow on its own. Beh, maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn't. I couldn't say either way.

I can say that all anyone who isn't one of the big gaming companies (and maybe that's only WotC, and maybe this is beyond even them) can do is grow one's own group. Anything more is wishful thinking. And the hobby's wishful thinking has brought us to where we currently are...

...given that track record, it may be best to work on those things we actually have our hands on.


Ryan said...

I can get behind this line of thinking. Historically, I play these games with my friends, and when I don't, it's because I've found or been invited to groups of people who are already players. Aside from my first group back in 5th grade, I can think of only one other person I've brought into the hobby, and she only ever gamed with me and mine.

My trips to the LGS these days are mostly to search through the used game section for older edition materials. Most of the new stuff just doesn't interest me.

It would be a strange world for me if the hobby did, in fact, die, but I suspect it would have little to do with my gaming plans. I have more material than I will ever be able to use as it stands.

Rob Lang said...

To rejuvinate the hobby, it needs to be brought into the mainstream. It needs to distance itself from the musty image of roleplaying as an activity for guys in their 30s and be presented to the youth - those between the ages of 6 and 11. Through the typical ways you sell anything to preteens: saturday morning toons and the like.

It needs to shake off that fusty image and although it's too late for anyone born after 1998, the younger generation should be targeted. Only then will it seal its longevity.

Robert Fisher said...

There’s a difference between growing the hobby and growing the industry. I don’t care about growing the industry. If it serves the hobby, it will do OK. If it doesn’t, it ought to die.

I agree that most of us can do little more than grow our own groups. There are other things some of us can do, though. Run games at stores. Run games at cons. Help publicize cons. Print out a free or quickstart RPG and send it to a neice or nephew. Print them out and leave them in public places.

It’s something that is done in lots of tiny increments. It’s about sowing lots of seeds knowing that the majority of them won’t germinate. It’s about letting playing the game sell itself when possible. Let the printed game do the selling when necessary. Avoid sales pitch advocacy.

Mad Brew said...

This brings up a good point/question, does one even need to be concerned with the hobby beyond their table? As long as I'm having a good time with it, do I really need to be concerned about it?

Thanks for contributing!

dchenry said...

**disclaimer: I'm a young'in. Sorry if my newfangled ideas don't match.**
In response to Mad Brew's most recent question: I absolutely believe we should all be concerned with the growth of the hobby outside of our own tables. I think there are important benefits that we all receive from the industry thriving.

I can understand if one has a small library of gaming books in their attic. If that describes you, then why should you care if the industry dies? You don't buy new stuff anyway and if you need to replace an old book you'll have to buy a used copy anyway because it is no longer in print. At first glance, it seems you do not need the industry and it does not need you. I am only 20 years old and I can comfortably say that I fit in to your category. I'm sure your collection of books is much larger than mine, but the point is I have enough material to where I could never purchase another supplement/map/miniature and be perfectly happy. But what about the others?

I, as well as the 30+ members of the Memphis Roleplayer's Association, need the industry to thrive. We are all between the ages of 18 and 26 and the vast majority of us have been roleplaying for less than 2 years. For those of us who don't "need" a huge group of like-minded individuals to enjoy the hobby, there are plenty of people who roleplay for just that: the unique social bonds that form when you are part of a larger organization and a small close-knit group. One gets to be a part of a campaign with 4 to 7 other people, then they can go to board game night or a monthly meeting and see a different 20 people who are all part of the same group.

It can be compared to a gamer in the workforce who may host a weekly game at their dinner table but also has the local shop they visit on weekends. What happens when that brick and mortar store goes away?

I do not have any hard facts to prove this last point so I won't say much, but I do not believe that the hobby will survive for very long without the industry. They need each other.