Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Roleplaying for the masses

I've been reading the Finnish tabletop roleplaying scene's thoughts on making a low-threshold game meant to attract new people to the hobby. This has resonated with my own thoughts on roleplaying. I do believe there should be a low-threshold game, however, I'm on a completely different track to the majority of people discussing this.

The common idea seems to be a rules-light game based on a popular stereotype (generic fantasy). Why bother? If all you want is vanilla D&D, there is already vanilla D&D. You'll never get into it unless you're into rules, so the very high threshold to entry should work merely to deter those not cut out for it anyway.

A better take I've seen is taking a pop-culture icon and turning that into an easily digested game. Say, Lost. Or Alias. Then the game should be found in places where non-gamers tend to shop. The less there is to study about the game's framework, the better.

What I haven't seen discussed is breaking the ages-old roleplaying methods down a bit. Boardgames are living a new renaissance right now. The practice of playing a roleplaying game could be moved more towards that - use a board, a theme everyone gets without explaining it and have goals for everyone. This could be good because a boardgame doesn't have the gamemaster vs. players setup, and everyone is working together to gave fun - there is no gamemaster doing all the work.

It probably shouldn't be marketed as a roleplaying game, though, if mass market appeal is sought.

1 comment:

Kai said...

The thing that drives roleplaying games far into the realm of geekdom, away from the potential casual player is just what you describe: Generic fantasy. Most fantasy settings are utter derivative tediums with nothing new to offer, or anything to grip the "normal" person.

Lost and Alias would both work: The former because of the emphasis on interpersonal relations in the face of a semi-realistic unknown, and the latter because being part of imaginative action is always fun. God forbid, using settings such as these in rule-light systems (Alias with Feng Shui? Bad idea?) might actually get "non-gamers" and girls interested.

I'm really tired of swords & sorcery personally.