June 5, 2012

Should RPGs Remain a Niche?

In one of the interviews with Mike Mearls about D&DNext he mentioned making D&D more mainstream and accessible to non-rpg players.  Taking it out of being just a niche game.

If you look at card games, board games, even video games, the trend is to get people playing as quickly as possible. With our Lords of Waterdeep and Castle Ravenloft board games, we wanted people playing within 15 minutes of opening the box.
My attitude is the same toward D&D. Open the game, and start playing. I think that RPGs have grown more and more complex over the years, and we’ve lost sight that the real fun of RPGs lies in experiencing a make-believe world through the eyes of a character who isn’t you. The first RPGs fit into 64 pages or less of text, with tons of that space given over to monsters and spells.
I think for too long, people have sort of thrown their hands up and given in to the idea that RPGs are this niche thing that few people want to play. That’s crazy. Tons and tons of people want to play RPGs. It’s time we let them!

Will WotC be able to make a D&D that can enter the mainstream gaming market? Will they be able to create a game that can reach the iconic level of Monopoly, Battleship or Risk?

Whether or not they can, I have a side question on the topic. Do rpg gamers want D&D to be anything more than a niche? Are there some who do not want the game to hit the mainstream?

Playing D&D, and rpgs in general, is a form of “geek cred”. It is something that can make a person feel unique. “I am part of the minority that plays rpgs,” is carried by some as a badge of honor. Some people like that feeling of being different (dare I say “hip”) that comes with playing rpgs.

Would these people look upon a mainstream D&D as an intrusion into their uniqueness? Would they be hostile to the proliferation of their niche? And if some are, should they?


Todd Crapper said...

As much as mainstream appeal means it'll be much easier to find new players, more games at more places, and all that but I've always enjoyed being part of a minority. Even with the rise in geek culture. Most of that probably stems from being a teenager in a small town where drinking was the norm. Sorry, binge drinking.

Unknown said...

I would be happy to see rpgs become more mainstream, especially in a game that could "gear up" to become more complicated and enriching as you devote more time to it. It would be great to have a dirt simple version of D&D Next that I could use to introduce new people to the hobby or play during lunch at work. I already try to simplify or hide the more crunchy bits of the hobby when I show it to new players, so having that built in would be great.

imredave said...

Actually I think that Dungeons and Dragons penetrated fully into the mainstream in the early '90s when it began appearing in popular TV shows of the era. These the need for adventure is largely filled by video games, with 91% of teenagers playing video games and fantasy adventure role playing titles being amongst the top sellers, it hard to claim fantasy adventure role playing is a "niche" occupation. However, I think the pen and paper version has dwindled to a more "niche" role. This will not be "fixed" by turning D&D into "Bridge" or "Magic". It could be helped by simple rules that play quickly, but if your making your money selling rules supplements thats the last thing you want. Typically when I am looking for an enjoyable evening spent with friends I want a game that plays for four hours not one. If their driving half an hour to get to my house or the shop (as is typical in the city I live in) going home after only an hour is a waste.