July 30, 2013

How High-Tech Competition Has Helped Tabletop Gaming

Last week there was a nice article extolling the virtues of D&D and rpgs in general. It was titled After 40 years, popularity of tabletop gaming rises despite high-tech competition. It went on to briefly examine the origins of rpgs and looked to answer the question of why tabletop rpgs are still popular (or even rising in popularity) despite the fact that video games are so prevalent. One thing not mentioned in the article, but one I feel is a key factor for tabletop gaming's continued success, is the fact that there is "high-tech competition". High-tech video games have actually helped tabletop gaming rather than hurting them.

Back when D&D first came out it was seen as a game for nerds. You were weird for wanting to live in a fantasy world, even if it was temporary. Fantasy was also seen as this new thing that no one understood. For some people it was too hard to grasp. Times have changed.

Video games have become main-stream. Everyone, at least in most countries, have played or seen a video game played. In some ways, video games have become the new national past-time. It has replaced time spent and investment that people used to spend in sports, book reading and other pursuits. Along the way, video games went from being a thing computer nerds played to something every kid plays.

In many ways, modern day video games are rpgs. There are the obvious games that are rpgs, such as Skyrim or Mass Effect. Then there are the less "obvious" ones such as SimCity, which allow people to pretend to be someone else. Even first person shooters involve some playing of a character, even if its just playing the "guy-with-the-flamethrower". MMOs have expanded this concept into a perpetual world wherein personas are played, bringing the concepts found in tabletop games even more to the forefront.

The concept of pretending to be someone else while playing a game has become main-stream. The high-tech competition has made rpgs popular. No longer is it just nerds that play rpgs. In one way or another, everyone does it. This has made playing tabletop games easier to understand and more socially acceptable. The high-tech competition (video games) that once was feared as the deathnell of tabletop gaming may actually be its greatest aid.
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