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The Future of Role Playing

I’m going to take a moment and ponder the future.  Where will role play go, and what form will it take when it gets there?  What will influence the future generation of gamers?  Let’s face it, even if you play your first session ever this week…of any game…in a few years you’ll start to experience some of what I have in the last 15 years.  You’ll experience the hobby change.

Change is inevitable.  It’s just going to happen.  However, I’m not talking about a switch from D&D 3.5 to 4e.  That change is inevitable as well, but D&D doesn’t shape the entire hobby by any stretch.  While it is probably the largest and most played role playing game in the world, there are tons of others that owe little homage to Wizards of the Coasts offering.  So what all will be happening.

First, where will future gamers come from?  After all, publishing role playing games is a business, so they want to get new players as they’re able to.  The thoughts seem to be to get MMORPG players to convert over to tabletop RPGs, thereby bringing new blood into the role playing fold.  4th Edition seems to be well suited to ease this transition over for this group, but in time that field will dry up as well.

For my money, I see the future gamers of the world all the time.  Every time I go see a Narnia, or Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, or any other fantasy-type movie in the theater.  Our future players are cutting their teeth on some of the same works of fiction we did, only in a film format.  People who don’t necessarily enjoy reading still make these movies hits, and the numbers that flocked to Lord of the Rings is indicative of the fact that no matter what, the hobby is still going strong.

The biggest phenomenon in literature in the last 50 years or so has to be Harry Potter, and so I figure it’s just a matter of time before someone convinces J.K. Rowling to license her beloved wizards to some game company and we’ll have Harry Potter: Role Playing Game.  I can hear some of you cringing right now, but I really think that it’s inevitable.  In fact, without having even done a Google search at this point, I still can’t help think there’s probably a couple of home brews floating around out there right now.

Technology is another new area that I see changing the shape of things to come.  Despites Wizards of the Coasts lackluster performance, computer technology will take on a more active role in even table top games, and here’s the example I envision.

A group sits around the table, all with laptops open and running.  They’re not connected to the net, just each other.  The DM has access to all character sheets, so no more asking “what’s your AC?”  Instead, he just looks at your sheet.  Firewalls prevent anyone else from seeing your sheet though…that’s only between you and the DM after all.  He can also deduct gold after dealing with a merchant automatically, making it one less thing a player can forget about.  Dice are still rolled as usual, but the computer can calculate all the buffs and such a player might have (who knows what future editions will have as far as buffs go), so all a player has to do is roll and enter their roll (or an alternate setting as the DM do is to prevent cheating).  When the DM has a note to pass along, it takes the form of an instant message to the player instead of physically passing a note, creating suspense among the players.

I don’t know if any of this will happen, but it’s just one thought I’ve had.  Since I wasn’t sleeping well anyways, why not dream a bit while I’m awake?

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September 9, 2008 Posted by | RPG | , | 15 Comments