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Mainstream media

Started by Maurice Forrester, November 19, 2002, 02:06:11 PM

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Maurice Forrester

Quote from: Ron Edwards
So now for the point: what alternate venues exist (in addition to the Good Stores) for people (anyone) to encounter the facts that (a) role-playing might be nifty in their already-existing terms, (b) its accoutrements (i.e. games themselves) might be found "here," and (c) it goes on "here."

The short answer: mainstream media.

The long answer has to do with how I got interested in comic books again.  Years ago, I was an avid reader and collector of comic books.  I even had some publications on the fringes of the industry.  Then, for a variety of reasons, I drifted away from comics.  More recently, I've started picking up the occasional trade paperback collection or graphic novel again.  The major factor in that renewed interest in comics is due to the fact that our local newspaper runs a column on Sundays that reviews both comic books and video games.  After reading the reviews for awhile, I made a point of picking up copies of some of the books that sounded most interesting.  I can easily imagine a board game and RPG review column having a similar impact.
Maurice Forrester

Ron Edwards

Hi Maurice,

Decided to split this one off into its own spawn thread.

I agree with you. It might be interesting to review some of the steps of the process, at least as it applied to a few other hobbies.

1) Totally isolated fandom. Non-involved people don't know much about it and tend to have kneejerk reactions or name-recognition (sometimes inaccurate) at best. No mainstream media presence - or, significantly, the existing presence is not identified with the activity at all. How Americans could avidly read the comics pages in newspapers for 75 years and yet sneer at comic books, is beyond me, but there it is.

2) Underground recognition and hipness. At this point, the mainstream media tends to focus on the scandals and awfulness of it all, both in terms of content and in terms of the peccadilloes of the practitioners and creators. This is a grim thing. For comics, we're talking about the the Comics Code in the 50s and the Meese Commission crackdown on underground comix in the 70s.

3) Mainstream media interest, in a piecemeal fashion. This is historically necessary, I think, but it's aggravating to insiders because it relies on the mainstream stereotypes to generate interest: "Zap! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids any more!" Scott McCloud documents the 80s-90s progress of this phase for comics in Re-Inventing comics.

4) Plain old presence. As usual with cultural phenomena, the presence of comics or renamed-comics as a regular, "natural" portion of the media landscape is accompanied by historical blindness. News articles aren't about what comics are or aren't "any more," but rather about the comics themselves.

How all this does or will relate to role-playing is a fascinating issue. I hope we've seen the last of #2, but defensive (rather than conciliatory) measures are well-warranted, I think. I also think #3 is a necessary step in the process and realizing that a little eyeball-rolling is gonna have to happen.

Finally, one thing that I'm pretty sure hasn't been worked out formally in socioeconomic terms is how the money-making aspect of the hobby factors into this. Again, speaking about comics, this was the phrase that cropped up the most during my childhood (phase 1 above) in the mainstream media: "Ya mean people will pay $5,000 for a comic book?" Some people think that this was a key step for comics' eventual, albeit still-developing re-postitioning in U.S. culture. I'm not sure that's the case, and I hope it wasn't, because RPGs are probably not eligible for it.



There is some evidence that #3 is starting to happen.  Here are links to a couple of stories on NPR's All Things Considered about D&D.

The release of 3rd edition

D&D turns 30

Of course, you'll need Real Audio to play these features.  However, IIRC, they are fairly positive.

Seth Ben-Ezra
Great Wolf
Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown


Eagle Games (makers of board war games with lots of visually stimulating plastic pieces) has taken full page adds and even gotten reviews in Computer Gaming magazines.  The response from that was so great that they figured they had a great untapped potential market in PC gamers and now have licenses to do Sid Miers Civilization PC game as a board game (already out) and Microsofts the Age of Mythology PC game as a boardgame.

Cheap Ass games had a full article in a recent issue of Wired Magazine (targeted at hip electronic gadget junkies).

The key is a hook.  You have to have a compelling hook.  If you do, you can sell it anywhere.

Jack Spencer Jr

Quote from: Ron Edwards"Ya mean people will pay $5,000 for a comic book?" Some people think that this was a key step for comics' eventual, albeit still-developing re-postitioning in U.S. culture. I'm not sure that's the case, and I hope it wasn't, because RPGs are probably not eligible for it.

I will buy that this is an important key step, albeit one of many small steps. It makes mainstream people take notice in something if there's money involved. And, Huzzah, the Overstreet people have an RPG price guide to go along with their comic book price guide. We'll see if this works and if the necessary next couple steps occur from this.