This is Audio EXP for the 22nd of May 2021, and the title of this episode is “It’s not the gamer apocalypse”.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #97]
Often, but not always, we start this recap of Geek Native news with some quirky stats. Today, we will look at some solid stats from Wizards of the Coast about Dungeons & Dragons.
I think you’ll agree that it’s not the gamer apocalypse.
You might wonder what the gamer apocalypse is. Well, the gamer apocalypse is an event that ruins the hobby for everyone. We’ve been hearing about it for years now.
For example, you might hear someone say that if we de-couple intelligence score bonuses from race selection that tabletop roleplaying will never be the same again, it’ll be ruined for everyone.
Maybe you heard someone suggest that the game will be ruined if we have a fantasy setting where people employed by the castle garrison can throw powerful magic fire at invading armies but have weak legs and spend much time in chairs with wheels.
Wizards of the Coasts say their flagship RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, has had its best year ever and the 7th of consecutive growth. In fact, it’s up 33% globally compared to the year before.
People like me, people over 40 years of age, only make up 13% of players. People aged between 13 and 19 make up 12%. There’s probably people younger, right, but they’re not tracked as it would be creepy.
The single biggest age group is 20 to 24-year-olds, who make up about a quarter of D&D’s player base.
People who identify as women make up 40%. If you’re curious, people who identify as non-binary makeup less than 1% of the gamer base. I see the same thing in Geek Native’s own surveys when I ask about identity.
7 years of growth, one year in which sales role 33%, means the hobby is booming, not dying.
So, that’s the big guns, Wizards of the Coast and the world’s most popular tabletop RPG. What about everyone else?
I don’t have stats for everyone else, but both Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds publish theirs reasonably often, which confirm no one else gets close to the mighty D&D.
As a Geek Native listener, or reader, you’re helping. If you’re a Patreon, you’re even taking an active hand in helping to promote smaller publishers.
In the RPG Publisher Spotlight, a feature that Patreons can vote on, this month we have Tacitus Publishing.
The indie studio is run by James S. Austin, and there’s an interview on the site with him. James is a super-smart guy. He’s worked as an analyst on military intelligence. I’ve read many RPGs that feature commentary about contemporary militaries and military intelligence, and sometimes those comments don’t seem to make sense. Maybe they’re right, perhaps they’re wrong, I’m not an analyst on military intelligence, so I can’t be sure. But James is.
However, Tacitus Publishing focuses more on D&D 5e than anything else right. So perhaps that’s the best of both worlds; fantasy with real-world wisdom.
This week, I also got to announce another thank you gift for Geek Native patrons. I know it can be a pain when the Patreon website emails you with a reminder that it is time to vote in the Spotlight. Even finding a Dollar spare a month can be a challenge at times, and I appreciate it.
It’s a comic book that has been described as Deadpool meets Kingsman, and I think that’s pretty good.
You don’t need to be a Patron to get a free comic book. I should, of course, point out that Geek Native is running a competition to give away paper copies too. And now the site even has a flash competition to win a copy of Doctor Who: Alternating Current. That’s the canon story in which Rose Tyler makes a return.
Phew, but I’m not quite done with the news. Geek Native also has a world exclusive. You don’t need to be a patron or even lucky enough to win competitions; you just have to visit the site to check out the reveal of the alternative cover from a forthcoming Exalted Funeral helmed-Kickstarter RPG called ARC.
In ARC, characters try and slay the apocalypse. It’s a game from the acclaimed designer momatoes. If you’ve been watching all the good stuff coming out of the Southeast Asian game design scene, then you’ll know the name.
It’s a dark cover, sombre and brooding, with a death-like figure and an enlightened eye on it. The plan is to dig into the Kickstarter when it launches.
My wrestling match with Kickstarter continues. I need to declutter, and I need to save money. I will need to move flat soon and likely will end up in a much smaller place. Yet, Kickstarter keeps tempting me.
Maybe sites like RPG Kitchen will take off. RPG Kitchen is a new site where you can rent tabletop RPGs.
Yes, if you will, a Netflix for RPG downloads. We could also use the word “library” to describe this, but as Wizards of the Coast’s stats show, barely any of us are old enough to remember libraries.
RPG Kitchen has technology that tries to stop you from saving a local copy of the RPG you’re digitally accessing, and it also credits you your rental fees back towards the cost of purchase if you decide to buy the game after all.
I know some people will be scoffing at the idea, but as an extra, something added to all the other store options we have, why not have RPG Kitchen. It’s better than pirating games and ripping designers off.
Of course, some titles are just free.
I noticed the Dream Pod 9 had made the latest edition of Heavy Gear Blitz! entirely free from DriveThruRPG.
That’s a war game rather than an RPG, but it’s well over a hundred pages long and been perfected over the last 20 years. It will, I’m sure, try and sell you mech models, though.
If finding games, RPGs or wargames that fit your circumstances well enough to invest in is a challenge, imagine trying to survive by doing that. That’s the challenge retailers face. So, to help them, GAMA – the American Game Manufacturers Association, has launched a tabletop games search engine.
It’s a catalogue with over 100,000 games in it. The idea is that retailers can find what they’re looking for, who distributes it and a bit about the game. I don’t think it’s really intended for the public, but I had fun nosing around.
I hope the investment helps GAMA members. It must have taken a significant effort to put together, but at least it’s not a controversial decision.
That contrasts with the controversial decision from ebay to ban adult games, sexy anime, manga and some collectables. There are exceptions for vintage erotica, but ebay wants to run a Safe For Work site.
I wrestle with this one, to be honest. I want to treat people with respect. I do not like it when women are treated as objects until they become invisible with age. So, in a way, taking steps against those things that might treat bodies like objects is good.
However, there’s nothing wrong with sex, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Does an illustration of a naked sexy, fighting android really hurt anyone?
In fact, is it all our weird taboos around sex and nudity that contribute towards society’s double standards with how we treat people?
Gosh, that’s a meaty debate.
A site that side-stepped that debate this week is a portrait generator solution called NeverEnding.
NeverEnding launched version 2. No, it didn’t add naked sexy, fighting androids, but it did add more features to let you design a character to represent your needs rather than what society thinks your needs might be.
Specifically, this update brought prosthetics and weaponised crutches. It also introduced animal companions and spell effects.
You can use some of NeverEnding for free, but some options require a subscription. It’s always been good with providing a range of body shapes.
Another success this week comes from the indie computer games publisher Playtra Games, who added It Gets Better project messaging to their forthcoming Grid Force.
It Gets Better is a non-profit that works to help LGBTQ+ young people around the world. Grid Force is an action game with an all-female cast of characters.
If we’ve moved on to discussing what options, such as characters, to include in game design, then this feels like the moment to point out that Comic-Con has announced the D4: Tabletop Creative Conference for June 5th.
Magpie Games have also announced a June Game Design Festival.
You’ll find both in Geek Native’s slowly growing conference calendar. If you know of any upcoming online or meat-space events, which you think are suitable for the calendar, let me know.
One interesting game design choice that caught my eye this week is the official Naruto Monopoly. Yes, that’s a thing. It’s from The Op, and while this feels like shameless merchandising, at least The Op plant trees for each of the board games, they sell from their site.
As well as buying and selling properties named after famous ninja, you’re also collecting items in this version of Monopoly. I think they’re the station spaces.
The Naruto game just the tip of the entertainment-meets-tabletop story pile this week. Let’s look at a few before we finish up with some bundle deals.
The Twitch backed Into the Mother Lands launched on Kickstarter.
The show is an actual play series – hence Twitch’s backing – with a people of colour cast and crew. It doesn’t align well with my timezone or limited free time, so I’ve never caught an episode, but I have heard good things.
The game played, which is now on Kickstarter, is a Cortex-powered sci-fi.
The Kickstarter has funded, but I was a bit disappointed I didn’t find out any more about the game from the Kickstarter. The pitch video has the cast and crew saying why they are excited. I don’t think the Kickstarter brief even mentions Cortex.
I hope it goes on to good things, though, as there’s plenty of time to find out more about it later.
Also in the game-entertainment news pile is whatever Wizards of the Coast is up to with the Drow ranger Drizzt. We know the iconic character features in the computer game Dark Alliance. Then, this week, Wizards released a motion comic called Sleep Sounds narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s really good; check it out.
Wizards of the Coast announced a summer-long celebration all for the character.
ComicBook.com managed to get a response from Wizards with the question, “Does this mean the D&D movie is about Drizzt?”
“No,” said Wizards, “But there might be a TV show…”
What? Really? That almost certainly means Wizards of the Coast is touting a Drizzt TV show.
There is a D&D TV show coming. The writer, Derek Kolstad, has mentioned the Underdark as a possibility for it but ruled out doing anything in D&D history, which, surely, means no origin story for Drizzt.
We’re not done there, either, as an official synopsis for the D&D movie was discovered in legal paperwork.
An ex-Harper turned thief escapes from prison with his partner, a female barbarian, and reunites with a no-talent wizard and a druid new to their team in an effort to rob the cheating conman who stole all their loot from the heist that landed them behind bars, and used it to install himself as the Lord of Neverwinter. Only the traitor is allied with a powerful Red Wizard who has something far more sinister in store.
That would likely cast Chris Pine as the ex-Harper, perhaps Hugh Grant as the Lord of Neverwinter, except…
ScreenRant got in touch with Wizards, who seem to be unusually communicative this week, who insisted the synopsis isn’t accurate.
I guess that might be true. If you just need to fill in a synopsis to copyright protect your movie but don’t need to stick with it, why risk giving away the plot?
Now, let us pick two bundle deals to finish up with.
On the Bundle of Holding, there’s A Time for War which will get you the BattleTech RPG of the same name and bonuses.
Perhaps saving the best for last, Paizo has a great deal for Pathfinder 2e on Humble Bundle.
You can get the core Pathfinder 2e rules and a host of supplements for $5. If you work your way up the tiers, you’ll even get the Bestiary in physical form. Money from the deal goes to try and stop American on American hate crime.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, and we’ll see you next week.
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