The Future of Roleplaying

RPG Blog CarnivalThis month’s blog carnival hosted by RoleplayingPro is about “The Future of Roleplaying”. He was kind enough to give us a couple of questions as inspiration for our posts and I will take up his offer and answer them in a Q&A format.

What games do you see emerging as the big players in the near future?

Hmm, I don’t think there will be big changes to the status quo. Wizard of the Coast‘s D&D will be the 800lbs. gorilla for years to come. But there are quite a few games that are rising in popularity. Paizo‘s Pathfinder RPG will surely be one of the big players since the game builds on the D&D 3.5 legacy. Not everyone is happy with the direction D&D 4th Edition has taken, so I think the D&D playerbase will be split between D&D 4th Edition players, Pathfinder players and old-school (and retro-clone) advocates. But if you put all editions of D&D in one big basket, you’ll notice that even in a couple of years no game will be even close to D&D. I don’t think we are going to see any changes in that regard.

What companies should we be watching out for to release the next big product?

Uh. That’s a tough one. I am usually very bad at guessing what game will be successful or not. But there are quite a few games in the making that could be considered “the next big product”. I already mentioned Paizo and Pathfinder. As far as I know it’s D&D 3.5 on steroids and that’s a good thing. I am not sure if I will pick it up myself, since I am currently more interested in trying out more indie stuff, but I think the Pathfinder RPG could be considered a big thing.
You also should have a close watch on indie publishers like Evil Hat Productions. They are currently working on the Dresden Files RPG, based on the novel series by Jim Butcher. Their last game, Spirit of the Century, was praised by critics and gamers alike and I think the future is bright for FATE-based games. I also hope they will continue to work with Chad Underkoffler, who created a couple of awesome RPGs including Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

How will technology become more integrated into roleplaying games?

Technology already plays a big role in RPGs. I know there are quite a few people using notebooks at the gaming table and those new e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle will make it even easier to carry around all your gaming materials without having to hire a couple of henchmen to carry all that dead tree stuff around.
And if you ask me, there will be a lot more online gaming. I am not talking about MMOs but about traditional RPGs being played over the internet using fancy software like Fantasy Grounds II (or some other virtual gametable) or just Play-by-Post or perhaps even using Twitter. But I don’t think that technology will change much of the gameplay we are used to. There will be technology to make things easier, enhance the atmosphere and allows us to game over a distance, but I don’t think we’ll replace traditional roleplaying with something more digital.

What industry writer do we need to be on the look out for?

Hmm, I am not sure, what is understood by “industry writer”. Does the industry include indie companies and self-publishers? I don’t think I can give you any names, but I think there are a lot of talented people out there. There are even a few members of our RPG blogging community who will probably play a bigger role in the industry in the future. Or at least I would like to see some of them to do so. But the talent is there.

What blogs do you see exploding into becoming the next big thing?

I believe it’s pretty hard for a single blog to explode into “the next big thing”. But it’s my firm believe that our own RPG Bloggers Network is already the “next big thing”. And Jonathan Jacob’s Open Game Table has shown that we as a community can even publish books on our own. Another step in that direction is the RPG Bloggers Campaign Setting is another step in that direction.
Blogs and especially blog networks are the future of gaming. If you ask me, the strength lies in the community not in a few exceptional blogs, although they can help lead by example. Hehe, of course, I wouldn’t object if my blog would be one of those few exceptional ones, but at this moment I don’t believe that will happen. I am much too lazy to create a shining beacon in the blogosphere. *chuckles*

What do you see for the future of the industry?

That’s a tough question. We are in the middle of a global financial and economic crisis and some people believe we haven’t even seen the worst. And roleplaying is something you can consider “luxury”, so the sales of RPG products will probably take a hit. It’s almost inevitable that we’ll see layoffs, bankruptcies, closures, the whole she-bang. But in the end, the industry will survive, gaming will survive. I sincerly hope it won’t be that bad and I hope a lot of indie publishers will make it through those dire times, because I think the future of the industry lies with indie game publishers. But perhaps that’s just my dislike of major corporations speaking. 😉