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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 69 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Promotion (split from Mainstream)  (Read 3428 times)
talysman
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« on: November 15, 2002, 01:35:06 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

John (Talysman), dude, please, all that belongs in another thread. I'd rather not have to lock this one, but I don't think I've encountered this much resistance about very basic Forge practices in a long time.


sorry, Ron. I didn't intend to challenge Forge practices. when I said "it really is about the store" I did go on to add that I didn't mean that it's about how to make a better store or whether such a store was economically viable, but that the store is a symbol: you can draw an analogy between the RPG and comics industries, in that they tend to cater to a mostly-fringe audience and tend to "put off" mainstream customers. when you brought up the store originally, I took that as an example of what one retailer did that proved a comic store does not automatically have to be fringe. I see your real question being "what is it that we are doing wrong that marks RPGs as marginalized, even in th case of games that are really mainstream?" isn't that what you were asking?

I'm not really hung up on talking about a retail sales model, really; I realize this is in the Publishing forum and is really a publishing question. in fact, strip the idea of sales completely. suppose you have company (non-RPG players) visit. they spot some gamebooks. what is their reaction? and what specifically about those gamebooks leads to that reaction?

I ask this question because I agree with you that there already are "mainstream" games out there, but I don't think those games are attracting as much of a mainstream audience as they could. correct me if I'm misinterpretting you, but I thought this was your point: how do you spread the word? is there something different that could be done in terms of cover art, jacket blurbs, advertising angles and the like?

as one example of what could be done differently, I think Quozl does have a point about labels. I wouldn't suggest creating a new name for RPGs, the way White Wolf did, but if a game book's cover says "FOO: a game of surrealist doodads" instead of "a ROLE-PLAYING game of surrealist doodads", it might attract more of a look from people beyond the fringe; people who like surrealism or doodads might actually look at the game a bit instead of thinking "role-playing game... oh, like dungeons and dragons..." and dropping the book.

another example would be to focus on connections with non-roleplaying materials. as an example, your "Sorcerer & Sword" isn't just a role-playing game, it's an advertisement for swords & sorcery; I imagine there were a few sales of older S&S story collections as a result of your essay on the history of the genre.

taking that further, what if your website had links to Amazon to purchase those story collections? what if swords & sorcery fan sites had links to your game? you've probably already thought of that, but my point is: why don't more rpg publishers think like that? building a community of rpg hobbyists is good, but building links to other communities is good, too, and makes rpgs seem less fringe.

even the big commercial companies have caught on. WotC and White Wolf publish fantasy novels as well as RPGs (we won't talk about the quality; the point is, they're trying.) SJ Games has branched out into a line of art books. these tactics may not be working well, but I suggest that it's not because the basic concept is fundamentally flawed. I think they have the right idea, but it needs time and maybe better execution before that tactic makes an impact.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
quozl
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2002, 02:03:50 PM »

Quote from: talysman
I wouldn't suggest creating a new name for RPGs, the way White Wolf did, but if a game book's cover says "FOO: a game of surrealist doodads" instead of "a ROLE-PLAYING game of surrealist doodads", it might attract more of a look from people beyond the fringe; people who like surrealism or doodads might actually look at the game a bit instead of thinking "role-playing game... oh, like dungeons and dragons..." and dropping the book.


What would one do to get distribution among the "normal" games instead of rpg's?  Even if you dropped the rpg label, if it's sitting with the rest of the rpg's, it won't get the attention from non-rpg players.
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2002, 02:07:48 PM »

Hi Jonathan,

I think the whole "go hunt the non-role-player" approach, particularly if one is hoping to use the subject-based (e.g. licensing) approach, is at best premature, and quite likely misguided from the get-go.

My target is the disgruntled or slightly bewildered role-player. That's why Sorcerer does have "role-playing game" on its cover, and that's whom the text is written for at every step. These are precisely the people who serve as the necessary doorways for new people to join the hobby (playing mainstream-content games), because they are already separate from the gamers who prefer their highly-canalized fringe product.

In a recent private mailing to Fang, I wrote (slightly modified),

Rather than seeing role-players and non-role-players as two distinct groups, I see four groups:

- people who don't role-play, who would like it greatly if the content were more mainstream

- people who do role-play, who would like it more and promote it more if content were more mainstream

- people who don't role-play, who furthermore won't do it regardless of content

- people who do role-play, who prefer fringe content (e.g. D&D fantasy) and aren't interested in mainstream content

Most role-playing discourse places the "do's" together and the "don'ts" together. I, instead, see all four groups and consider the first two as a viable marketing target.


My point for this thread, so far, is that I think really grabbing the role-players who prefer mainstream content and amazing them with what can be done, is the key. As they are socially connected with the non-role-players who would like it, I think doing this may be a very effective means of reaching that group, which in the main has eluded ham-handed attempts to lure or trick them into role-playing directly.

Sorcerer as a game, the Forge as a site, the campus club I'm faculty advisor for (and its little convention, Demon Con), and the recent shared booth at GenCon all represent efforts on my part toward this exact goal: enlisting and (if you will) enlightening role-players who prefer mainstream content, such that their presentation of the hobby attracts non-role-players who would like it.

Best,
Ron
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