Saturday, July 18, 2009

Today's Youth in Gaming

There's been rattling in the blogosphere about the kids of today and the future of RPGs. I've worked extensively with school-ages children over the past 12 years. In that time I've worked with over 100 children and families so I have some insight on how they think and why. Even with my experience I will never claim to be an expert because I never stopped learning from them. So not once will I say, "Because I'm me and I say so".

There are so many ways to approach this subject. I've heard the arguments that kids of today don't like to read. Of course there are those who don't, but there are many who still read and read a lot. The children who read today are better read than the kids I knew when I was young. Most gravitate to the biggies like Harry Potter, Twilight and whatever else is out there. But they are reading. And in my opinion the biggest and widest range of reading material out there getting the kids attention is the manga books. I know very little about them, but I know both girls and boys liked them and the trend is obvious these days. Go to a Barnes or Borders, the manga books selection is growing and in the prime traffic area.

Again there has been a lot of talk about the future or lack of future of RPG and the apparent success or the failure of RPGs making money. I tend to be more laid back on these subjects know that the ones who are smart and willing to evolve will survive the rest will fade into the mist of nostalgia. I see a good portion of the RPG community fading into that mist especially us old farts. I stand on the edge of the mist happily. The kids of today are not going to like what we liked. Games that evolve to capture the kid's attention will capture their money. I am not a lover of 4th edition D&D, but I think they were brave enough to take this step. They are appealing to the mass of WoW gamers and all the other MMORPGs look a likes. But WotC failed again to have the foresight to get their shit together and have that web based tabletop up and running. Personally, I don't understand how a company with that many resources continually screws the pooch.

The point is, we can continue to make the same old games and throw different descriptions on hit points, armor class, make up fancy names for equipment and monsters, but it's the same game. It's a game fewer younger people are interested in. When my generation of gamers started we were all on the same level. Everyone was figuring out this wonderful new game. We were all on the same mission. D&D was pretty much the only system so there were no arguments about editions or which system to play. It was simple. We just wanted to play.

Today there are thousands of forums and thousands of blogs dedicated to every minute detail. Can you imagine being an 11 year old kid walking into this massive world of conflicting ideas of systems, rules and editions spattered across the web? It's so much easier o fire up the XBox 360 and go hunt down your friends in Call of Duty 4 or go on a raid in WoW.

But do I think the gaming industry is dying? No. Can money be made in the gaming industry? Sure. Can you make a living from the gaming industry? A select few possibly. Do I think the kids of today will join RPGs? Absolutely. They just aren't concentrated in one area like they used to be.

Now go call your friends and get a game going. It's the weekend. Game on!