Signal Amplification: noisms Knows Where It’s At

I’ve long held the opinion that the RPG industry needs the hobby more than the hobby needs the industry, but noisms has provided a really nice argument as to why that is the case, as well as providing interesting links to a PAX East discussion in which figures like Mike Mearls and Ryan Dancey ponder how they can keep this buggy whip thing going long enough for them to retire.

For my money, Mearls seems to be the most sensible pair of hands to handle the D&D brand in a long time, in the sense that he realises that if it is to survive it’s got to be as a brand in which the tabletop RPG is just one facet of the whole deal rather than being the core activity everything else has to kowtow to, and if you want someone to be super big into the brand you need to find ways to engage them on other fronts rather than expecting them to spend their downtime between sessions thinking a lot about D&D and working towards the next session. I suspect, in fact, that a lot of Games Workshop’s recent woes surrounding sales might arise from this sort of thing – people might still be happy to spend hours playing Warhammer 40,000, but I for one don’t really have the motivation to do that and spend further hours building and painting my armies when there’s so many other things I can invest my time in, so in practice my armies have been gathering dust for years ever since I stopped living conveniently close to friends who’d regularly hold painting sessions.

I would probably be much less involved in tabletop RPGs if I hadn’t crafted a very high-improvisation, low-prep style of refereeing.

One thought on “Signal Amplification: noisms Knows Where It’s At

  1. Ah, interesting. I’m inclined to dispute several of their instrumentality arguments: I don’t accept for a moment that TV is better at providing “an entertaining narrative that will distract you from your boring life and help you relax after a hard day at work” than books (but then, I don’t bother owning a TV). I *definitely* don’t agree that computer games are better than RPGs for providing puzzles and tactical play, because computers aren’t intelligent enough to handle the ingenuity of human brains in a remotely satisfying way.

    Also, of course, for a lot of people the instrumental goal is one RPGs are very well-suited to. If your aim is to hang out with friends while having something fairly light to do that facilitates conversation, RPGs are good. Sometimes the goal is actually to play an RPG.

    It’s very true about the peripheral time commitments. I’ve spent well over a year so far slowly painting Dreadfleet, because not having a dedicated painting space, it’s a faff finding time to do it and getting all the bits set up, not to mention getting a crick in my neck hunched over bits of model ship. In contrast, I tend to do quite a bit of prep for RPGs, but that mostly happens ambiently while I’m having lunch or whatever, so it’s not eating into other activities.

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