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(TFT) the future of paper and pencil games

Interesting post, David.

Here are my two cents worth on the issues you raised.

From: "David Michael Grouchy II" <david_michael_grouchy_ii@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: tft@brainiac.com
To: tft@brainiac.com
Subject: (TFT) Rant: part IV
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 07:02:06 -0600

The key points...

a) FRPGs felt like eating forbidden fruit, but now it is passe. It is the norm. Everyone has heard of D&D now. The days when it was rare to find some one who has even _heard_ of role playing are now passed.

True.  Most kids, especially boys, have played computer games that are FRPGs

b) Computers games may be a poor substitute for actually sitting around a kitchen table and listening to each other, but the big MMORPGs are making buckets of money.

I don't know what "MMORPG" means, but I see your basic point. And, I would tend to agree. I've talked with some younger people who like to play computer games. Out of curiosity, a couple of them tried paper and pencil FRPGs (usually D&D). They found them to be quaint in game design (pre-computer technology) and fun for the social interaction. But, they uniformly preferred the computer games for the immediacy of the action and the visuals. So, I doubt there will be much interest in paper and pencil games by most gamers, simply because the computer medium is better at visuals and immediacy (i.e., no waiting on dice rolls). Nevertheless, I think there is room for paper and pencil games . . .

c) Do we even know who our market is, and if we listen to that market will they really ask for TFT.

I think little kids might be induced to play paper and pencil games as a family activity. Then, most of them will grow into another stage of socializing and imagination.

As for gamers, a few might become interested in paper and pencil games as a kind of object of study -- a basic way to make a game without needing to know computer programming. There might be an appeal there to creativity -- either designing games or for designing fiction. It's sort of a similar reason why many people prefer sketching or painting even though "better" images can be made with computer programs. The former techniques, although technologically primitive, are still effective; and they allow for a lot more creativity because they require a lot less technological skill. (In other wolrds, you can just pick up a pen or a pencil and draw . . . without having to learn how to use and make a computer program.) The same could be said for paper and pencil games. With them, a person is not locked into someone else's computer programming, and person doesn't need to learn computer programming to design scenarios. Instead, by learning a few rules, a person can immediately design a structure for modeling a fantasy milieu (again, for games themselves or perhaps for fiction). Again, the numbers of interested gamers and foction authors would be small, but they would be there.

Finally, there are the folks like me who remember the paper and pencil games from our youth; the reason for my (and others'?) interest is primarily nostalgia.

I don't think there is much of a "market" in terms of business. The gaming market for FRPGs has clearly been taken over by computer games. But, there still is some interest. For example, D&D still publishes books; Steve Jackson's company is still alive and well, and this little email list is still going, etc. So, the "market" is perhaps not much of a market, but it is still potentially an interest group. As for TFT, I think it is a natural choice because of its simplicity and its balance (of playability and realism).

But, I'm just thinking out loud.  Comments?

-- John
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