thread: 2012-02-11 : 3 Problems

On 2012-02-12, Jake Richmond wrote:

Alex, "best" is subjective. I'll take the broadly appealing content and humane social footprint game that I can play over the "real" rpg that no one wants to play with me any day.  Or in other words, in a world where 99% of my friends and potential playmates have no interest in post-apocalyptic mayhem (no matter how great), showing up to the party with Apocalypse World won't do me any good.

While the best game experience may be the one most specifically tailored to what you want, finding players who actually are interested in your super small niche game isn't actually that easy. Yes, yes, you've never had trouble finding people to play an Apocalypse World game, but chances are you've never played it with your girl friend. Or your mother. Or your co-workers. Or maybe you have, but chances are that most people in your life, if you asked, would say that the material doesn't honestly appeal to them. Why? Because just like you, they have a "best" game, a niche interest. And Apoc World, as well as most other games, doesn't scratch it.

Lets looks at G X B for a moment. Are you familiar with it? It's a shoujo dating sim game for 4 or more players that you can play in about 60-90 minutes. It has almost no rules, and most of it's 16 pages of content are instructional manga that teaches players how to play the game. It uses a deck of cards. It's easy as cake to play, and you can teach it as you go. Once you've played it you can turn around and teach it to your friends. As far as a humane social footprint goes, it's pretty inclusive. As long as you have 4 people you can play, and the more people the better.The same amount of time to play as a short movie, and you don't need any special props or table clutter. Just a small book and a deck of cards. So it's super easy and accessible.

So that's nice... but you'd still rather play Apocalypse World, right? For you that's the better game experience. It's what you want, and what you want is the best. And that makes sense. Here's this though. Heather Aplington doesn't like post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Nether does Marah Richmond. Or Sophie Bidoof. These are young women in my life who would much, much rather play a shoujo manga game, or a romantic comedy game, than any kind of sci-fi game. Here's the neat thing. As a potential audience they outnumber you. They outnumber sci-fi fans by a margin that's so big it's ridiculous. More people will read a shoujo manga today than will read a sci-fi novel this month. More people will play a social dating sim game on their phone, or their console, or their computer, or facebook, than will play Fallout 3 this month. This audience is just as super specific as the one that prefers post-apocalyptic role play. It's preferences are just as narrow. There's just way, way more of these people. Their niche interest is just way, way bigger, more popular and more universal than yours. If offered a choice between a "real" rpg and something like G x B, they'll choose G x B every time.

So here's the thing. as a designer, and even more as a publisher, I'm way, way more interested in making games for this super huge, mostly untouched audience (and in fact have been for awhile, to degrees of success) than trying to make games for the traditional tiny existing rpg audience.


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