So on the Discord that the Geek Husband What Rules started there has been an extended discussion about the fact that a lot people who play RPGs only know or play D&D or Pathfinder. There was a some debate about why this is, and the GHWR and I discussed it on the way back from my parents’ place. We came up with a few reasons.
First is that D&D and Pathfinder have much larger promotion budgets than most other systems. D&D has Hasbro money backing it up, on top of decades of existence, and the prolonged campaign of the Satanic Panic in the 80s/90s bringing it to people’s attention, including the movie Mazes and Monsters. It also had a cartoon in the early to mid-80s.
Pathfinder has put a lot of money into advertising because they were able to after their first blush of success and it has paid off for them spectacularly.
Adding to this, is that you had a lot of the early streamers, like Critical Role, focusing on the better known games. The reason for this could as easily be cultural familiarity and search for market share as personal familiarity.
The thing is, it isn’t always. Yes, there are some newer games, Indie and otherwise that do require a fair amount of study, like, say, Burning Wheel, Blades in the Dark, Scum and Villainy, or Dresden Files, but a lot of them don’t, like any of the Powered by the Apocalypse games, like Apocalypse World, Dungeon World and Monsterhearts, or games like Primetime Adventures, or any number of “rules light games.”
Investment of time learning rules aside, another thing that is intimidating to a lot people regarding the newer games is a lack of modules. Pathfinder, like D&D, Rifts, and many of the other older games, has invested heavily in modules, which are basically canned adventures that do a lot of the work for the GM.
I cannot run that way, and I don’t get people who like running modules. But that’s cool, differences keep things interesting, and if our play/GM styles are not compatible, we don’t have to play together. There’s a place for folks who dig modules, and place for those who don’t.
Honestly, I know there are a lot of folks who don’t think they’d be good at coming up with story on the fly who are short-selling themselves, and would probably be great at it. And there are, to be honest, a lot of folks who are not as good at coming up with plot on the fly as they think they are.
And let’s not forget the “OSR (Old School Renaissance) -v- Indie Feud” that happened online, and still flares up from time to time, which near as I could tell was mostly OSR or “traditional gaming” fans getting mad at the Indie gamers for not wanting to play the older games, or if they did play them, “didn’t play them right.” A lot of folks got turned off by both sides of the argument and decided the other side just sucked.
Which is ridiculous. There is not a finite amount of fun in the world. Play the way you want, and leave everyone else alone.
Sorry, got a little off topic there, but it still chaps my hide. There was nothing more annoying than finding someone who was a fellow gamer, and starting to chat about games, and once you mentioned that you liked Primetime Adventures, or Apocalypse World they’d get huffy, call you a dirty hippie and block you on social media.
I wish I was kidding and/or exaggerating.
I think everyone should play all kinds of games, because how else will you find what you like. I often wonder how many people got turned off by gaming because they only ever played D&D, Vampire the Masquerade, and yes, even Monsterhearts. The loosey-goosey style of a lot of the “rules light” Indie games doesn’t work for some people, and the really rigidly defined traditional style games don’t really work for others.
I enjoyed playing GURPS, D&D not so much, but I didn’t really dive whole hog into gaming until we discovered the Indie Games community and games like Primetime Adventures, Monsterhearts and others. I know other people who really love more traditional games like Traveller or Champions.
Every game is going to have its supporters and fans, and its detractors.
I get that as nerds, we’re used to wanting desperately to be “right.” But games and what makes them good are very subjective, and we need to let go of that urge to be “right,” and just support what we love.
Now go research a game you’ve never played and see if it’s something you might like.