Thursday, August 03, 2017

Finding Out About NEW RPGs is Easier and Harder Than Ever... #RPGaDAY2017 Day 3


In the before times, in the not now, it was pretty easy to find out about what role playing games were coming down the pipeline. All you had to do was pick up a copy of The Space Gamer, Different Worlds, White Dwarf, The Dragon, or one of a host of magazines dedicated to the role playing game hobby. Some of those magazines predate me as a gamer, but they all covered new game offerings during a portion of their run.

Prior to the existence of these magazines, it was harder to find out about new games. You had to rely on word of mouth and the distribution chain providing advertisements to your local game store. One of the figures who made it easier back in the day, according to Shannon Appelcline's excellent Designers and Dragons, was Lou Zocchi who began including advertisements for games in his own published games. This service led to him becoming one of the first distributors in the hobby. Other than Zocchi though, it was rough going in the early days, but as the industry grew so too did those magazines.

In the early days of the intarwebs, there was a wonderful GO TO location for gaming news called gamingreport.com. It had everything you wanted: press releases of upcoming games, industry insiders leaking the games they were developing, and articles by Kenneth Hite on obscure games. It was a one stop shop for all you needed to know. Sadly, it disappeared for a variety of reasons and since that time we have returned to a digital form of the pre-magazine era in many ways. We are largely reliant on word of mouth and solicitations from distributors to game stores. It seems that we are reliant more and more on our communities for information, much as earlier gamers were reliant on 'zines from their communities.

I know what you might be thinking, "but this is the internet era and there is information EVERYWHERE!" That's exactly the problem. There is information and product solicitation scattered everywhere, almost at random. There are Kickstarter RPGs, there are indie press rpgs that sell at Indie Press Revolution but not on Kickstarter, there are strong independent publishers like Evil Hat Productions who have a core fanbase that keeps up to date with their newsletters, there is io9, Nerdist, and ICV2, but as good as these sites are they are too much shaped by their editorial preferences to cover a wide portion of the industry in a useful way to consumers. ICV2 is more a service for retailers than fans, so its stories tend to have underlying assumptions about knowledge of solicitations.

The fact is that I find out more about upcoming RPGs from the independent blogs I read and my Twitter and Facebook feeds than I do from any other source. There are too many distribution methods Kickstarter, Self-Publish, PDF only (where I find out by just looking at what's new at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG more than from an informative source), traditional hobby store, large retail exclusives, the list goes on and on. There is more information than ever, but it isn't centralized and that makes it challenging for a "broad interest" gamer like me. Were I only interested in games of a particular niche, then my searches and sites would be limited, but my interests range from Apocalypse World to The Zorcerer of Zo, okay bad example because those are both indies...how about...D&D to Apocalypse World to Zombicide to Karthun to the Protocol Series to Swords & Wizardry to Rotten Capes to Hero Games to GURPS? I missed the last Rotten Capes Kickstarter because it appears that I was the only of my friends who knew about it.

We need a service/place to cut through all the noise and get to the signal. We need a new GamingReport.com or a great generalist magazine like Different Worlds or The Space Gamer at their prime, but I don't see one coming unless someone launches a Patreon for one.
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