thread: 2012-03-15 : Monster Mania Con

On 2012-03-16, Julia wrote:

I played my first role-playing game in 2006. I didn't play as a kid or a teenager, I probably don't fit the gamer stereotype, and I didn't really consider myself a gamer until fairly recently. At that point I'd written a few table top RPGs and larps, sold some games, run some larps, and been to a few conventions. I intentionally don't write games for gamers or larpers. I write for the love of and to share that love of a particular topic or form of expression that moves me. I don't necessarily write for a genre, but I do keep genre in mind, especially if the subject is a derivative of it. My general pitch of my roleplaying games to people who don't embrace the gamer label is that rpgs are a form of collaborative storytelling. I do say "this is a roleplaying game." Why take it completely away from its very useful context? If and when D&D comes up I say, "Yeah, it's something like that, but instead of elves and orcs, this time we're going to tell stories about [Japanese demons, cannibals in Western Massachusetts, etc.]." Sometimes I mention that I've only played D&D three times, which is true. I don't dis role-playing games, but I do place emphasis on the fact that RPGs are a form of collaborative storytelling and are more socially engaging and intellectually stimulating than TV.

After five years I think I sell as many copies of Steal Away Jordan to teachers, history professors, and people with a general interest in Southern US History and literature as I do to the gaming community. Whether or not it was an accurate message, I kinda picked up that the (stereo-)typical gamer did not want to engage with the subject matter, even if the game itself was fun. Someone once called it an "educational" game. In context of the discussion it meant the game had less entertainment value for a gamer, and was more of a teaching tool. While I disagree with that assessment, I'll concede it has that capability. And of all the misconceptions about the game, that one is not so bad.?Steal Away Jordan is?now on the syllabus of an Afro Am studies class. It's also part of an art exhibit on gaming. Again, I didn't write SAJ with gamers in mind (really I wrote it to challenge myself), but I did write it on the assumption that gamers like to play interesting, compelling stories. Lesson learned: people like interesting, compelling stories and many are willing to access these stories in innovative forms like RPGs.

I work in a co-working center. Basically it's a big shared office of mostly freelancers. We have a few editors, a photographer, a voice actress, a German translator/interpreter, a small farmers advocacy non profit, a couple of social media and marketing people, a web hosting cooperative, a fashion designer, a comic book artist, a book illustrator, and more. A few of them are rpg players and a there's a couple of cosplayers/anime fans. Back in February I invited anyone who had ever picked up one of the RPGs on my desk and asked about it to come play in a couple of larps (full disclosure: one of the larps was mine, and the invitees had heard a LOT about this project from me). Four people (out of the 6 or 7 I invited) showed up. One was not a gamer, nor was he particularly devoted to the subject matter of my larp. What he was interested in was meeting new people, doing something creative with others, and trying something fun. Yesterday the non gamer I just mentioned and I played Murderous Ghosts at lunch. He loved it. He wanted to play because after having a great time at the larp where he got the chance to do something creative with people, he wanted to do more. The subject matter in both instances was appealing, but the activity was much more appealing to him.

I think it's exciting to reach out to other communities and subcultures with RPGs (and larps, though tabletop games are more portable and require less play space). In doing so I hope people get new players, customers, and fans. I hope that this trend also moves beyond marketing and writing to a genre and into marketing and writing RPGs that offer interesting ways of engaging people in general, that game designers really look at what their designs share with other forms of expression like short fiction, poetry, and improvisational theater, as games like Drifters Escape, Game Poems, and the larp Metropolis do.?Then you aren't bound to a genre and you do share creative space and a huge diverse market with literature, theatre, poetry, etc.


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