Over and over again I’m hearing that RPGs are dying. Here and there you get a report of a game store shutting down and it’s the end of RPGs. The Hasbro designers of D&D are ready to give up.
Whatever. If a game store struggling or shutting down was an indicator of industry health, then that must mean that the food industry is failing because I’ve seen dozens and dozens of restaurants shut down in my town. In fact, the booze industry must be failing because I’ve seen some bars shut down!
No, that’s not why they shut down. Small businesses fail all the time because they have limited resources and the owner, no matter how talented does not have the business experience of a major chain store. If someone in the family gets sick right when there’s a lull in business, it can wipe them out financially.
There’s this fear that RPGs will become a model train hobby where only the older, financially able hobbyists will be able to stick with it. For the record, if you wanted to have an awesome RPG experience you can do it for free. Right now. The only way I’d give any credence to the model train idea is if RPGs were continually getting more complicated. If anything they’re getting simpler.
There’s fear that only older players are sticking with the hobby. In our group of players only my wife and myself are over thirty. Most are in their twenties and a few are in their teens. My kids are just starting to sit through a game (they usually wander off in the middle).
I’m going to cap this off with this thought. Where are the numbers? When anyone says RPGs are dying, they don’t have any numbers to show. I want a graph that shows how many gamers there were in the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and now in the 2010’s. Now I’m going to turn that burden of proof back on myself. There are 66,000 members over at rpg.net. Some of those may be bots, some of them may be inactive, but that’s enough people to populate a small city and that’s one forum, one venue. GenCon Indy had a record breaking attendance of 36,000 people. I was there and they weren’t all a bunch of 30+ guys. Yes some of them were there for board games but I’d have to imagine most board gamers that were there crossed over to the RPGs a few times in their lives.
Now remember, a good number of the people that attend Gen Con are the people that are highly dedicated to their hobby. That means for every one attendee there is some multiplier of hobbyists that don’t attend. Is that figure at least one in ten? It has to be at least that. Could it be one in one hundred? Possibly and I’d put that number even higher. Three million plus gamers? Absolutely, and that’s my low end estimate.
Now you tell me you can’t carry on a business with three million customers.