Monday, December 05, 2005

Waiting for the revolution...any time now...yep...

I'm sort of annoyed with myself because the tone of my posts so far have been so negative. One of the things I want to do with this blog is find, identify, and in my own little way promote really impressive and ingenious ideas in the gaming industry (I'll then steal those ideas and use them myself!)

Some examples:

* The Role Playing Game - A new gaming genre
* The Trading Card Game - Another new gaming genre
* The DCI (Magic: The Gathering tournament system) - One of the main reason Magic's still played today.
* WizKids coming up with Mage Knight - A seriously ingenious twist on miniatures gaming
* Everything Games Workshop did in the late 80's to early 90's - Sure, we know they're evil now, but at the time it was pretty impressive!
* Whoever brought Eurogames to the US - Did it start with Mayfair and Settlers? Not sure, but whoever did it, they did a great job.
* Taking kids TV anime shows, and turning them into trading card games - Again, evil, but you have to admit it was a big idea!
* The d20 system and the Open Gaming Licence for D&D

These are all specific cases where a specific game company did or started something really special and impactful. The one thing they all have in common: None of these ideas will work again. Their time has either passed, or their full impact is already upon us. Another RPG isn't going to set the world on fire, more Eurogames are coming but it's not revolution, and while anime card games are here to stay, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh mania isn't going to happen again anytime soon.

It's pretty well documented that the hobby game industry is in a down-turn right now, with local game stores closing up and publishers feeling the hurt. The industry needs something new. Something that will get existing gamers excited or something that will draw in new gamers (I'm not picky!)

I'm not so interested in a new game, because I know there are lots of great new games being released in all gaming categories. I'm more interested in new categories...

I'm also interested in new ways to bring people into gaming. Marketing, to be specific. Not magazine ads or direct mail campaigns with go-faster stripes (that's old-school garbage.) New ideas, even if they don't work.

One of the surest ways to succeed (some would say the ONLY way to succeed) in today's world of business is to come up with an idea that nobody else has. Something that shouts "NEW!" when people glance at it (otherwise they won't think it's new at all.) Does anyone in the game industry have an idea like that?

I think there are a lot of people with ideas fitting that description. I just have to find them.



Adam Conus said...

Another 'revolutionary' idea, that wasn't quite worth a whole new blog post: White Wolf's World of Darkness back in the 90's. They brought women into RPGs like never before and the fully embraced (heh) LARPing. It was brilliant and it was a high water mark for coolness among gamers. I don't know any LARPers any more (half of Wizards was in the "Cam" when I started there) so I'm not sure where it currently stands.

Yehuda said...

RPGs - I played D&D for many years. The roleplaying game really is a great idea, and it may still be making money, but it suffers from two main problems:

1. It is still geared for extremists, i.e. the heavy wargamers, teenagers who can play all night, sci-fi and fantasy nuts, and so on. The entire concept should be mainstreamed, i.e. roleplaying games of limited duration, say an hour or so, of one to two sessions with minimal preparation needed, with themes like Jane Austen, peace intiatives, or farming, and so on. It is questionable if you could or should still maintain the "game" aspect of it.

I have a friend who is now trying to make a living running "Bibliodrama" workshops, where she leads people through acting like biblical characters or concepts for a hour. It is more of a psychological exeprience, rather than a game. I think that something in between these two could work well, and reach the vast untapped masses.

2. d20 moved away from "roleplaying" and became "rollplaying" and "ruleplaying". Again, maybe it made a lot of money, but it totally turned me off. If I were to game again, it would be something like Children of Fire, heavy on roleplay and very little rolling or rules.

CCGs - A brilliant concept. However, because of the ever present DCI, so many people think that the ONLY way to play the game is to buy lots of cards and keep up with the Jone's, which is totally untrue. I haven't bought cards in nine years, and my group and I have been happily playing using drafting all the while.

Playing football doesn't have to mean playing professionally or in tournaments; it can just be playing with friends on Sunday. Same with CCGs. I don't care what they are playing in tournaments.

Mage Knight - the logical extension of "collectible" gaming, which then spread to Cloud, Chizo Rising, and so on.

Eurogames - Mayfair started it by producing Settlers, but then Rio Grande Games popularized it with their idea of "joint English/German production" in Germany for Eurogames.

Anime - succeeded just because Disney is stuck in a rut, like all behemoths. Turning it into a game was certainly a good idea, of course.


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