Ryan Dancey on Redefining the Hobby (Updated: time elements in a storytelling game)

Glyfair

Explorer
Ryan Dancey has gone on a posting spree pre-GenCon on his Blog. His subjects start by discussing the state of the hobby of "roleplaying." Then he moves to discussing ways to reinvent the hobby.

The relevant posts are:
Climb the Highest Mountain
Keep Hope Alive!
Step 1: Redefine the Hobby
Step 2: Redefine the Experience
Step 3: Redefine the Game World
Step 4: Redefine the Platform
STep 5: Redefine the Rules
Final Thoughts: Wrap Up
Storytelling Games 1: Thinking Hard
Storytelling Games 2: Vive La Resolution! New!

I don't expect everyone to agree with everything here, in fact I don't. I do think it is a pretty good start for a discussion of the issues.

A few excerpts (which doesn't nearly begin to cover everything):

Here is a chart he used during a seminar showing the relative sizes of the hobby games industry. The ribbon of blue at the bottom is all tabletop RPGs combined.
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The term “Roleplaying Game” has a lot of baggage. It makes the tacit assumption (demonstrably false) that the primary entertainment value is “playing a role”. 30+ years of negative brand equity have accumulated around “Roleplaying Games” (and Dungeons & Dragons in particular); from concerns about the satanic nature of the content to fears that the games are psychologically damaging, to simple social stigma attached to the geek image of the participants. It’s time to cut that monicker loose.

The goal of most of the people in the hobby is not “play a role”. The goal of the hobby community is “tell a great story”. Roleplaying is a tactic, not a strategy. Some participants want to play roles, and that’s fine. Others want to provide narrative structure. Still others want to create systems for interaction and adjudication. And another group wants to generate environments. All of these people need to be made co-equal for the hobby to succeed long term.

Therefore, I think we need to engage in metamorphosis from “roleplaying games” to “storytelling games”. And in that change lies the seeds of our success.

The MMORPG platform (our “television”) has three critical areas of weakness (likely unfixable) which we can exploit to segment the storytelling hobby from the MMORPG hobby, to our advantage.

What we need to do is avoid the temptation to try and make our hobby more like the MMORPG hobby. We need to focus our efforts on segmentation: making a clear difference between the two formats, and making strong and believable statements about why people will enjoy themselves participating in the Storytelling Game hobby
 
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Glyfair

Explorer
As an immediate reply, not that Mike Mearls makes a good counterpoint in the last thread (last at this time, anyway).

A partial quote:
It's a simple observational bias. The game sessions we hear about are the ones that make good stories, because we are naturally wired to communicate stories to each other. Yet, that doesn't mean that all worthwhile, intersting game play experiences are stories.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
What we need to do is avoid the temptation to try and make our hobby more like the MMORPG hobby. We need to focus our efforts on segmentation: making a clear difference between the two formats, and making strong and believable statements about why people will enjoy themselves participating in the Storytelling Game hobby

That is a very well put summary of the concept that "D&D should not be videogamey". Not because it's a bad thing per se (in fact many of us gamers also enjoy playing CRPGs or MMORPGs), but because to stay strong (or survive) it must be different.

The more it tries to emulate the features of a computerized game, the more the limitations of running the game "live" (i.e. with a DM) become evident, while at the same time the strengths of it (which a computer can never emulate) become less and less relevant. Going too far means that at a certain point there's less reasons to play a RPG that works like a CRPG, when you can play a CRPG that does its own things much better...
 


Glyfair

Explorer
Scott_Rouse said:
Did he say where did the sales data for the chart on the hobby games business came from?

No. Just that he used it during a seminar.

He does credit the Daedalus Project with MMORPG chart he gives in the same post. The image is so small, it's hard to determine whether there is any tabletop information in that chart.
 


Treebore

First Post
An interesting topic, but I am separating myself from the "save the hobby" movement. The guys who make a living off of the hobby can worry about it.

I'll just worry about "my gaming" and supporting just the companies I like. If that helps keep the hobby alive, or even helps save it, great. If it doesn't, its not my livlihood. I have much more important, and up close and personal things, to worry about.

Still an interesting "exercise" to discuss. Plus I in no way hope that the hobby fails. Even if it fails I believe it will stay alive enough for me to keep finding games.

So I'll leave the worrying up to the people who have the resources, and direct concerns, and direct input, to effect how things are done.
 

trancejeremy

Adventurer
Maybe we just need a new name for it? Call it "Collective tabletop non-electronic blogging" or something full of popular buzzwords.

Still, I think a lot of the stigma is not necessarily stuck to roleplaying, but D&D itself. For instance, D&D Tactics is due out for the PSP this week, and just about every review of it used the terms "nerd" or "geek" or some variant. Which you don't usually see when it's a conversion of some other p&p RPG (though not that there are many of those, these days).
 

Glyfair

Explorer
trancejeremy said:
Maybe we just need a new name for it? Call it "Collective tabletop non-electronic blogging" or something full of popular buzzwords.

Still, I think a lot of the stigma is not necessarily stuck to roleplaying, but D&D itself. For instance, D&D Tactics is due out for the PSP this week, and just about every review of it used the terms "nerd" or "geek" or some variant. Which you don't usually see when it's a conversion of some other p&p RPG (though not that there are many of those, these days).

I read an column in the local papers "young adult enterainment" section that mentioned D&D. The column was discussing "dating dealbreakers." No, she didn't directly list D&D as one of those. Instead, she listed something she said was "barely a step up from playing D&D."

Now, the section definitely goes for the "hip vibe," so that might be part of it. Then again, the main editor of the section is a regular at my regular comic book store.
 

Alnag

First Post
Well, is it just me, or Dancey suddenly make a 180° turn with...

... the worst thing we could do is spend time & resources trying to make a digital environment to virtualize the tabletop experience...

I have a feeling, he was proponent of virtualization and tools such as e-tools and their better version based on some game engine (Arcanum was it?).
 

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