Friday, June 17, 2011

Open Friday: As a Hobby, Are We Too Obsessed with "the Industry?"

When I was a kid, I just played roleplaying games. Yes, I knew the names of Gary Gygax and a few other game designers and, sure, I had a degree of loyalty to certain game companies, like TSR and GDW, but I didn't know much about the arcane world alluded to in various Dragon editorials complaining about GAMA or whatever. That was all completely outside my realm, much in the same way that I didn't really care about why the 1981 baseball strike happened, only that it prevented me from watching the Orioles on TV or attending one of their home games.

As I got older and especially after I started writing professionally, I started to pay a lot more attention to "the industry," believing it to be important for various reasons I can't remember. What I do remember is that I never landed a job or found more pleasure in writing because of my obsession with the ins and outs of the industry. If anything, I found my enjoyment lessened and a big part of my abandoning it was based on my knowing too much about it.

One of the things I've tried to do on this blog is to avoid such "inside baseball" discussions and instead focus on the games I like and actually play. I haven't always succeeded -- old habits die hard, after all -- but a quick scan of the more than 2200 posts I've written since 2008 should reveal that I don't spend a lot of time talking about gaming companies, let alone gaming personalities, neither of which has much of an impact on what what happens at my game table with my friends, which is the only reason I'm involved in this hobby in the first place.

So, with that extended preamble out of the way, here's the question: do you agree with me? Do we, as old school fans, spend too much time talking about what game companies or game writers are doing and why and not enough time just, you know, playing? I'm pretty sure that we do; it's been my contention for a long time that we don't talk enough about the games we're playing or have played and devote unnecessary energy to meta-discussions that have little or no effect on our enjoyment of this hobby. Am I right in thinking this?

53 comments:

  1. I think companies and personalities have one big impact - the gaming products they sell. What you or I think of WotC, Paizo, Mongoose, Green Ronin etc has no impact in itself on the games I play. However, the new games, supplements and adventures probably will have an impact, and I think people are interested in both what existing products say about the companies that produce them, and perhaps what may be next in the pipeline.

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  2. I prefer that blogs I read not talk about the "industry", but I don't care at all what the blogs I don't read talk about. Any blog that talks about it too much gets moved from one column to the other. That said, I wouldn't presume to dictate to bloggers what they ought to talk about: if they find endless fascination with the goings on at places Hasbro and want to share that with the world, by all means.

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  3. I think some people do. I don't care all that much about industry and companies, more people, especially the DIYers amongst us. People are more important, and interesting, than companies after all.

    I like hearing how people play or have played, what house rules they use and campaigns they create; the creative and imaginative side of things. I am not interesting in rants against companies or the industry in general. Mostly it seems that posts about those are just moaning, with nothing particularly useful or constructive to say.

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  4. I will say yes and go so far as to warn our collective fandom of what this type of meta-discussion has done to another fandom with a similar attitude...Comic books.

    Comic books are another hobby where knowledge and discussion of the industry occurs regularly. Articles on DC's upcoming relaunch of their entire line are a perfect example. Bleeding Cool, Comics Allaince, Newsarama and other sites breaking the news of the various new titles in the relaunch tell just as much about 'marketing', 'market share' and 'creative decsions' instead of just saying what the comic book is about and showing the artwork.

    I wonder if this not only fails to add to the comic book fans enjoyment of the books but goes so far as to turn them off.

    If one of the big complaints about modern comics is that it's difficult for new readers to jump on a title because they need to know its extensive back history, do they now need to know who worked on it, why and how come he left the book to go to Marvel?

    I am guilty of this myself as the industry side of it does interest me. I have several friends in the comic book business and so I like to know the ins and outs. Still, the whole DC relaunch has been soured for me since I know to much about the meta-thinking why of it.

    The universe isn't being rebooted because of some cool in-universe story, it's a business decision, and knowing that...well...sucks.

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  5. I would generally agree, with two caveats:

    1. It's not just old-school gaming or RPG's -- it's every hobby. The internet, and social media in particular, has given us increased access to companies, writers, individual athletes, etc. It's become normal, to the point where there's backlash against those that don't participate. To continue the sports analogy, it's not enough to talk about the game anymore, one has to be conversant with trades, draft picks, front office moves etc. Companies do this to increase the brand. We buy into it because it makes us feel as if we participate at a higher level.

    2. Sometimes we DO participate at a higher level, and that's fun. Open beta playtests are a good example. Participating in an open beta is just playing a game, but we can only play that game because we're concerned with what the company is doing. Part of the fun of participating is to influence what the company is doing and how the game turns out.

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  6. James said: "Am I right in thinking this?"

    Given we're having a meta-discussion about the topic, I'd say, Yes.

    Like a lot of things, once the curtain has been pulled back, the magic is lessened, if not gone for good. RPGs are just one example. Law and hotdogs are others.

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  7. In the gaming sphere, the "industry" is this shadowy, monolithic edifice/force for many bloggers. It is similar to when people refer to the "system" with regard to government. Both terms have somewhat dystopian meanings for many gamers.

    I definitely think gamers spend/waste a lot of time worrying about some idea of an "industry." Gamers can be a resourceful lot. If you give them just the core rules of game system, many gamers can play with just those books for years. That's just what I did when I was a kid. No one in my group EVER bought or used a module, as surprising as it sounds. We never bothered with all the sourcebooks or splatbooks or whatever. Just give us the core rules and we were happy. The notable exception was when we played Palladium's Rifts. We were suckered into the need for them.

    So the bottom line is that we as gamers need to remember that we don’t need the industry once we get the books/games they produce. That’s the freedom of gaming, since our hobby is so based on imagination. Once we get the bare minimum, we can, as Matt Finch has said, “imagine the hell out of it.” Who needs all the other stuff the industry pumps out, when we can imagine our own expansions to the original materials?

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  8. Compared to the Warhammer stuff I follow, you mention the industry rarely. The biggest topic of conversation on anything having to do with WHFB or 40K for the last three months has been about the annual product price increase. Notice, I said annual product price increase. We know it is going to happen, yet for 3 months out of the year, we're breaking down prices of materials, the current stock values, etc. With the exception of how much it costs to play the game, it doesn't really effect the game itself. Again, you mention it, but it isn't all encompassing or overbearing.

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  9. It's part of loving your hobby. If you think I worry about gaming companies a lot, ask me about the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have an unhealthy amount of knowledge about them.

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  10. Perhaps the problem is not when players talk about the industry but rather when those who don't play talk about the industry.

    You get into a multipost discussion about an RPG related issue only to find the person hasn't played in a decade or so.

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  11. The trouble is the player/industry split is really more incestuous than a barn full of cats. People don't start writing games until thy have played them for a while (some exceptions of course do occur) and even then writers are still players.

    The biggest divide between "players" and "industry professionals" in my experience is players tend to focus on one game, and industry types tend to play all sorts of games.

    What does this mean to your post? Simply that the divide is not a clean cut one as say it is in comics, movies or TV. People talk and sometimes "fun talk" merges with "shop talk" and "work".

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  12. I find myself more interested in what inventive or creative or obsessive work individual persons are doing rather than larger scale views of what the 'industry' might or might not be up to... so I read about people's ideas, their campaigns, stray ideas, etc.

    I'm not interested in reading about what the bigger players are up to because I don't think they are making stuff that interests me anymore. Online components or 'power ups' from random collector cards? Not for me. I guess I'm more interested in the D.I.Y. than the slicker stuff.

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  13. The fact that the personalities in this industry are so accessible encourages discussion about them and their business practices. It's part of being involved in a small hobby I guess.

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  14. The problem James is that there is a bridge between the hobby and the industry; a shared culture. Not perfectly shared, but fairly strongly.

    I write my games for free, distribute for free, I make lots of arguments against what I feel is the stifling of innovation in the industry. However, this latest fracas is not about game design, but culture. And that is why it has gone nuclear.

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  16. I don't think so. I think that gamers in general are less obsessed than other "fans" are of different things.

    "Do we, as old school fans, spend too much time talking about what game companies or game writers are doing and why and not enough time just, you know, playing?"

    The structure of that sentence implies that talking about "the industry" reduces the amount of time spent playing. I don't think that's the case at all. I believe its additive.

    I totally think we'd all like to spend more time actually gaming. RL can be cruel in that aspect, but talking about it doesn't reduce it, IMO.

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  17. "Do we spend too much time talking about the industry compared to playing games?"

    No, I don't think so.

    Many of us "Old Schoolers" are older folks...as we get older, we tend not just to have more knowledge of the underpinnings of a hobby, but also an INTEREST in those "behind the curtain" things. Talking about them goes hand-in-hand. What's more, they set a context for what we are doing with the hobby.

    As a kid I didn't care (and I wasn't trying to publish anything either)...but I'm about 20 years removed from my "kid-ness." We don't have to talk about it at the gaming table, but one of the reasons *I* read blogs is to keep touch with what's going on besides "who killed what monster" and "what new magic item did someone write-up." To me, the blog roll is partly a source of gaming info...like subscribing to a very casual periodical. For younger or non-professional readers this may be boring stuff...and some blogs are better than others for "real" news and not just opinions. But I don't think there's "too much" of it out there.

    For me, a non-industry guy, I like it.
    : )

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  18. Perhaps the problem is not when players talk about the industry but rather when those who don't play talk about the industry.

    I agree, though I'd generalize it even further that a lot of the problem is when people who don't play talk about the hobby ...

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  19. First off, I consider Grognardia PART of the game industry. I'm not sure how else to classify it.

    "When I was a kid, I just played roleplaying games."

    When we were kids we didn't understand the impact of the "industry" on our game. Today, as adults, we are very aware of it. When 2E removed devils and demons from the game this was a decision the "industry" made that impacted my game. When Gygax left TSR that had a huge impact on my game even though at the time I didn't know why. When Hasbro started publicly hinting around about 4E I knew this would be something that would impact my game. If my game group decided we liked 4E we would be buying and using it, otherwise we wouldn't, that's a pretty big impact to a game group so naturally we were interested in what the 4E designers were thinking at the time. As a kid I would not have been aware of any of this and might have gone to the game store one day and picked up a 4th edition module, read it, and wondered why it didn't seem to be using the same rules as my third edition stuff. Why? We weren't aware of the "industry".

    Also contributing to this is the accessibility of industry designers. In the '80s you didn't have any ability to directly contact anyone at TSR. Today you can post a question on the Paizo message board and have the Creative Director of the company answer you personally within a day. I'm sure if this were possible in 1982 Gary Gygax would have been inundated with questions and gamers would have been just as wrapped into the industry as they are today.

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  20. I find myself more interested in what inventive or creative or obsessive work individual persons are doing rather than larger scale views of what the 'industry' might or might not be up to... so I read about people's ideas, their campaigns, stray ideas, etc.

    You and me both.

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  21. "What I do remember is that I never landed a job or found more pleasure in writing because of my obsession with the ins and outs of the industry."

    I don't quite get this statement. I don't think gamers interested in the game industry are all trying to land jobs or are using it as creative inspiration. I'm not sure why you are, or did.

    "I don't spend a lot of time talking about gaming companies, let alone gaming personalities, neither of which has much of an impact on what what happens at my game table with my friends"

    I guess there is some truth to this if you are playing a 100% original game in an original world. Otherwise I would say at the very least Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson had a HUGE impact on what happens at your game table with your friends. In fact the are probably the reason you have an RPG game table at all. Maybe modern creators have no impact on your game table but that's not true for everyone. Knowing what these game personalities are thinking (in public anyway) and knowing the reasons behinds their decisions both creative and mechanical enhances my games, it doesn't diminish them.

    Interacting with the game industry and it's creators also allows those creators to make better games. If the designers of games never heard from their consumers they would never know what we wanted. Look at the latter days of TSR and their publications. Who, exaclty, was asking for some of the stuff they were making? No one, but they had no way of knowing that until it was published and didn't sell. Today, like what they are doing or not, game companies are responding directly to the people that are buying the product. 4E is what it is because that's what people were asking for. Pathfinder exists because that's what people were asking for. Interaction with and interest in the industry I feel is pretty important if you want your game to keep getting published. The whole spirit of the OGL is to make the game, the players, and the industry one in the same. Without players interacting with the industry we would have no OGL!

    "Do we, as old school fans, spend too much time talking about what game companies or game writers are doing and why and not enough time just, you know, playing?"

    I think old school fans spend too much time talking about what game companies DID and not enough about what they are DOING. If the old school fans were more involved with the industry and were actually PLAYING the game and buying publications things like 4E would never have happened. A very vocal and active "old school" community is essentially what made Pathfinder what it is today.

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  22. The fact that the personalities in this industry are so accessible encourages discussion about them and their business practices. It's part of being involved in a small hobby I guess.

    That's a very good point. I think you're definitely on to something there.

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  23. However, this latest fracas is not about game design, but culture. And that is why it has gone nuclear.

    To quote something I read somewhere recently, this post isn't about you, Greg. Believe it or not, I didn't have your latest crusade in mind when I posted it and I'd appreciate it if you'd keep it off my blog. I catch enough flak as it is because of things at least tangentially related to what I wrote without having to deal other people's messes.

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  24. I totally think we'd all like to spend more time actually gaming. RL can be cruel in that aspect, but talking about it doesn't reduce it, IMO.

    You're correct and I probably should have phrased that sentence differently. My real point was that I think we have too much talking and not enough playing going on and I think that's just silly.

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  25. First off, I consider Grognardia PART of the game industry. I'm not sure how else to classify it.

    Really?

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  26. I don't quite get this statement. I don't think gamers interested in the game industry are all trying to land jobs or are using it as creative inspiration. I'm not sure why you are, or did.

    When I was a full-time freelancer, knowledge of who was doing what and why was very useful in landing contracts. If I had a heads-up on, say, what White Wolf was doing next year or who was going to be the new line developer on a game I wanted to write for, that was invaluable.

    If the old school fans were more involved with the industry and were actually PLAYING the game and buying publications things like 4E would never have happened.

    I'd like to believe that, but -- and here's where I'm a hypocrite -- my knowledge of how the industry actually works tells me that 4e was going to happen the way it happened regardless of how involved old schoolers had been in the industry. Plus, the guys who gave us 4e all consider themselves "old school" and sincerely believe they took the game closer to its roots with the design they offered in 2008. I don't honestly see how that could have been changed.

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  27. In my experience, the number of gamers who pay a lot of attention to the industry is a minority. You have at least one in every group, but most of the group doesn’t.

    And there is good and bad to it. I’m a big believer in knowing the history, being part of the community, and keeping an eye on the industry. All things which help us be more informed, find new inspirations, and leverage the experience of others.

    Too much? No. We just have to try to stay focused on the good aspects of doing so.

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  28. "Really?"

    I do. The stuff that gets discussed around my game table has no industry impact. The stuff that gets discussed here (and other popular RPG blogs) has at least some, I'm sure of it. So to me that's a part of the industry.

    "Plus, the guys who gave us 4e all consider themselves "old school" and sincerely believe they took the game closer to its roots with the design they offered in 2008."

    Shocking. I would not have guessed they felt that way. Maybe if I were more involved with the 4E industry I would have. See what I mean? That's information only an industry insider would know. ;)

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  29. Do we, as old school fans, spend too much time talking about what game companies or game writers are doing and why and not enough time just, you know, playing?

    Yes. Padre
    For some reason I cannot log into this blog or a number of others with my google account.

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  30. I think about the RPG Industry for the same reason that I think about the BBC and the production of television sometimes when I'm talking about Doctor Who on my other blog. The product - whatever it is - is produced by someone in accordance with commercial realities, or in reaction against them. That's one set of factors that influence the way it's made and how it's received, and one level on which it works. It's not the only one and I'd be foolish to pretend it is, but it's not a level I'm prepared to ignore.

    That said, the RPG industry is less important to me than the wargaming industry, where players are more likely to run into an environment where Officialdom is some sort of enforced principle. In RPG terms it tends to be mentioned most often in a "you don't need all these splatbooks, they're there for the company's sake, not yours" context and largely ignored.

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  31. I think interest in the industry may be a byproduct of age. It seems that as people get older, they have an increasing interest in looking under the hood, so to speak.

    I don't recall discussing the drafting or trading records of GMs as a kid; we just watched the teams we liked and talked about whether Bo Jackson could run over Lawrence Taylor.

    With age, though, it seems like more and more of my peers took a greater interest in what happened behind the curtain - maybe because we had more appreciation for how that impacted the success of the team, or maybe because it was more relevant to our lives.

    I mean, as a kid, you want to dream you could be Joe Montana. As an adult, you accept that you never could be, but maybe you think you could be a GM.

    I dunno ... bottom line is that I think the interest of the "OSR" in the industry is because we're all more or less the same age and our thoughts are naturally more business-oriented than they were as kids.

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  32. I'd agree with cibet that Grognardia is part of the industry--with the understanding that there's precious little daylight between that industry and amateur practice. James, your blog is Ground Zero for an emergent sector of the hobby (the OSR). While there's not a lot of money in the OSR (but then again as the WotC guys know there's not a lot of money in D&D in the grand scheme of things), there are companies and revenue streams and the like. In other words, the OSR has its industrial / commercial side. As several commentators have noted, the miniscule size of the hobby means that the line between amateur and professional is porous and constantly crossed in both directions. So discussions here play a role in shaping tastes and (I suspect in a sizable number of cases) affecting business plans. It's not that you're the Czar of the OSR, but you're the highest-profile voice out of the chorus of voices that makes up this side of the industry.

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  33. As a teenager I don't think I was really aware of the "industry" beyond recognizing company names. Gygax's occasional crusades against heretics and apostates in the Dragon were really the only time I got a glimpse "behind the curtain."

    As years went by my interest in the industry probably increased along with my growing knowledge base of the hobby (and probably with my age too).

    I think what really got me paying attention, though was when I realized that decisions made by a couple of people in various company offices could have a real effect on what I played (or at least in what I could ever hope to see on a shore shelf). TSR's decision not to publish material they had for Dragonquest (my game of choice at the time) or the expulsion of demons and devils from the Monster Manual both made me start to pay attention to who was "interfering" as it were with my game.

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  34. It is probably inevitable that hobbyists like us (i.e., RPG'ing geeks) will evince at least SOME interest in the "behind the scenes" inner workings of the larger corporations that produce the games we like (or don't like). Like you, I am much more a fan of talking about the gaming *experience* than the gaming *business*, but I don't mind a little industry gossip or insider info from time to time.

    Analogously, I am a major cinephile, and while I DO read Entertainment Weekly and lots of scholarly essays about film, the time I spend on that stuff pales in comparison to the time I invest in actually watching and talking about the movies themselves.

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  35. While the "Industry" does not have a direct effect on how we game it does have an indirect one. They will determine how many people join the roleplaying hobby overall as they have the ability to get it out to people. I started with 3.5, if it had not been for the "Industry" getting it out on a store shelf where I could buy it I would not be here commenting right now. The OSR may bring in a few new people by itself but a good number in the future will probably come from people who tried the "Industry's" flavor of the month D&D game and wanted something more or what have you. If no one with a big budget was pushing some form of D&D our little niche here would not have much of a chance to grow. Now I don't mind it being small but a community that is not growing is dieing.

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  36. James, I can definitely sympathize with your position. For the past five years I’ve been working as journalist covering the business and development side of the video game industry and focusing exclusively on the commercial aspects of gaming can really suck the life out of you. However, gaming is (or maybe was) largely driven by commerce so it is still important to know the ups and downs of the companies involved, if for no other reason than to document the history. The antidote is to keep the emphasis on the designers, writers, and artists. Their stories are instructive and creatively invigorating.

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  37. To me the difference is this and why it is discussed:

    The industry represents a method of mass producing items for mass consumption. This is the heart of the industry. Mass produce items and sell as many as you can.

    Now this is a great idea for ball bearings. You want uniformity, the one made before to be the same as the one made after the one you are holding in your hand.

    When it comes to things of a creative nature the problems occur. That's why the music industry, film industry, etc has come under fire. They make product for mass consumption. There again, good for ball bearings, bad for art.

    Think about this:

    When a pop song succeeds it becomes a hit...right? Nope. It becomes a Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. A way to move more product units to increase profits. Anyone who doesn't yield this in sufficient quantity are released from the label, whether they have fans, good music, etc or not. It is ALL about the Benjamins.

    This is what ruined the hobby the first time around. It had grown so fast that it had inadvertently become an industry and had to operate under the creed of industry. Do whatever it takes to increase the customer base and increase profits.

    Pressure is applied, cave-in begins, game is ruined, future is created.

    This is not the industry. I come closer to being industry minded than anyone I have met in this group and I will not sacrifice what I'm working on to move one extra copy. I'm not going to get rich either way, so why not make what I enjoy. This is the very heart of the hobby business and how it began in '74. Remember-RPGs were not created and produced by corporate think tanks. They were made by guys in their basements and played by fans who were excited by this new form of gaming.

    The industry is crashing. The reasoning is that people are leaving TRPGs for MMOs, but I don't think that is the case. When we finally get a reporting method that can truly track where all games are being sold then many might be surprised to see that exodus hasn't been to MMOs. It has been to the OSR / Indie scene.

    http://www.icv2.com/index.php

    That is the main number tracker above.

    This is where they report the news:

    http://www.icv2.com/search/index.php?q=games

    And for those who say that we are not big enough to be tracked consider this: A few months ago the Dresden File RPG material had secured the 3rd place position in sales after Paizo and Wizards tied for first. Then it was revealed that that they had sold about 5,000 units total for the Qtr...barely over 1,000 a month. That was the 3rd largest seller of RPGs in the industry. Think about it. There isn't that much difference in sales numbers when you start actually crunching the numbers.

    The hobby is strong and getting stronger by the day.

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  38. I've never paid much attention. The move to the D20 system left a wound. A wound that I understand, forgive, and accept, but one that will never heal. So much so that when 4E dropped, my response was, "Oh, it's terrible? Indeed."
    The game I love will never be revisited by the modern gaming industry, and is fairly unpopular among the gaming community. I have accepted this, and am at peace.

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  39. @ADD Grognard - Great post! I get unbelievably tired of listening to everyone prognosticating about the death of our hobby and the shrinking fan base. Like every form of entertainment, gaming has been radically affected by the Internet. And like every other form of entertainment, it has taken a while to figure out how best to take advantage of the change, and the bean counters and big corporations are taking a huge hit from it.

    I have spent more money on new RPG product in the past three years than I had in the ten years prior. The vast majority of it has been from individuals or very small companies (e.g. LOFTP, Goblinoid, Mythmere). People like Raggi and Finch would not be able to do what they’re doing if our hobby was not thriving and growing. It is simply that the old definition of “the RPG industry” is no longer valid.

    Much like the music industry, big companies are no longer necessary for RPGs. You can get your product out to the world without them. The ability to put out an awesome product is no longer reliant upon being with a corporation. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect as creativity and freedom are stifled in the name of marketing.

    Also James, make no mistake - you are most definitely a huge part of the new RPG industry. You are one of the main mouthpieces of the movement. Hell, I can’t tell you how many books and pdfs I’ve bought based on the reviews and discussion on your blog. Not to mention all of the other OSR blogs you’ve led me to that have inspired even more purchasing!

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  40. See, I avoid using industry in relationship to us because of the possible confusion and that this scene is much closer to the '74-'85 scene, where companies were still being started in basements. By '89 it was pretty much over. I remember even in the small town that I grew up in we had a dozen places to buy RPG materials around us. I now live close to there and there isn't a place for almost 100 miles (and I'm not certain they are still open).

    Yeah, the internet changed everything. You can now build a game and have people playing online by tomorrow :)

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  41. It's always interesting to hear what people are creating, but as for industry drama, I have no interest at all. I think the large audience of this blog speaks for itself.

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  42. Hmm, I've heard the expression 'Every time you roll, you roll with Gary' but never 'Every time you roll, you roll with 2nd ed'. Sure the changing rules and mechanics and direction of the 'industry' give us something to natter about, but when we're sat down, engaged and playing...discussing the finer huffings and puffings of the industry seems inconsequential at that moment in time. Heh, maybe I've just not been around long enough.

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  43. James:

    I don't have anything intelligent to add to the discussion on "the industry", as it's not something I spend much time or energy thinking or talking about.

    The one thing I did want to comment on was the mention of your 2200 posts since 2008. That blows me away. So many "daily" blogs (on all kinds of subjects, not just RPGs) fail to deliver content consistently, but, day after day after day, you do.

    I don't always agree with your posts, and I'm not even sure I even consider myself an "old school" gamer, but I do appreciate the thoughtful, well crafted, impassioned posts. It's why Grognardia is my FIRST stop on the WWW when I log on every day.

    Not to mention, you tuned me into Clark Ashton Smith, whom I had never even heard of prior to finding your site but am now enjoying tremendously.

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  44. James, you are pretty much the "face" of the OSR "industry," if there is such a thing! Seriously, on Wednesday night this week my fellow gamers and I were talking to a new guy who joined our game. He hadn't gamed in years, and he was in the store to get into a game of D&D Encounters or whatever they call it. We talked to him about C&C and the OSR and he jumped over to our game! Anyway, after we were done gaming, we told him more about the OSR and we basically told him that a blog called Grognardia is the heart of the movement.

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  45. @ Barking Alien
    I am right there with you on the DC stuff. I've been trying to find good articles about what is going to happen. What's going to be different? Instead I find a bunch of corporate speak and industry reasoning about new readers and blah blah blah.
    I just want to know why Capt. Atom's new book will be cool and why I should start reading Hawkman after his last few series have stunk.
    I want cool info about the books, not information about the inner workings of corporate DC.
    I don't mind if they want to complain about the books and give opinions. I like that, I just don't want the industry insider stuff. I hate that on the RPG Blogs too.
    I want interesting opinion pieces from various points of view. I want to know what people think about it, not the business decisions behind it. Knowing the business end of it kind of takes the fun out of the whole experience of being a fan.
    Unfortunately I think we all, myself included, step over that boundary from time to time. I think after so long being a fan it just comes as second nature.

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  46. I don't do this. No gamer I know IRL does this, or even cares a damn. So it's a non-issue for me & everyone I know.

    As far as the Internet goes, no I haven't seen a whole lot of industry-insider navel gazing. Discussions on RPGnet about what a jerk Kevin Simbieda is, or the Troll Lord guys are great although their editing sucks, are mildly interesting and don't bother me.

    As an academic teaching IP law I do sometimes seek out IP-related gossip from professional interest, the RPG industry is a good example of how TM and (c) Law get (mis)applied in real life within a minor creative industry. It's no worse that way than major industries like TV broadcasting, though.

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  47. "Movement", eh?

    THE FIRST RULE OF THE OSR: YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT THE OSR.

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  48. The OSR is a classic example of how the hobby and business can coexist, go their separate ways, and then reunite.

    They're separate things, and one doesn't necessarily inform the other.

    The only reason to worry in the past was that network externalities could give you a "forced upgrade" position if you wanted to find a game.

    As OSRIC and Pathfinder have proved, the internet seems to have that cord rather definitively.

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  49. The Dwimmermount and other books written/edited by Our Host are part of the industry and the hobby, drawing from culture/fandom experience.

    Grognardia is part of the hobby and the culture/fandom. It influences the industry.

    Now, if Our Host were purposefully leveraging all his influence and every post to sell stuff, rather than having selling stuff be an incidental, you could say Grognardia was part of the industry. But he's more into influencing the heart and mind than the credit card, so it's more a matter of culture and movement than industry.

    Not that there's anything wrong with selling stuff with a blog; but the basic focus of this blog isn't that goal.

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  50. i said it on here before (dont post much) that people should concentrate more on just building the scaffolding of imagination instead of complaining about the rules/systems... use any system and build/have fun with your friends and anyone who enjoys to build also.

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  51. There are a couple of levels to what is being referred to as "the industry." There are companies that are owned by larger entities: this includes WOTC and Games Workshop, etc. Then there are all of the smaller operations, which range from single-person efforts to smallish businesses. In some ways, this has a resemblance to the mid-70's (I agree conceptually with ADD Grognard about this). But a really big difference between then and now is the vastly easier time gamers have in communicating with one another in comparison with back then. Back in the mid- to late-70's, the internet was a DARPA project and if you wanted the latest low-down on what somebody was doing elsewhere, you subscribed to Alarums & Excursions. So the "industry" back then had a great deal more control over information distribution than they do today.

    What's interesting to see is how WOTC, White Wolf and - particularly - Games Workshop are using marketing strategies to emulate this kind of information control. To "play D&D" today means buying into a pre-announced series of "delves" that together make a "campaign" - all of which is far more scripted than anything in the past. From an industry perspective, this is great. For some hobbyists, this is exactly what they want. Just not me.

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