Monday, 20 June 2011

Rambling Sid Rumpo Rambles On

I like podcasts - I am currently working my way through the back catalogue of the D6 Generation.

I am less interested in what the people are talking about in the podcast - and get a little frustrated with the numpties that complain that a podcast contains misinformation, or doesn't have enough content, or goes off topic - than I am in the relationship between the podcasters, the in jokes etc.

Thus I was a little dismayed to learn that Ben Johnson has left Bad Dice. The Ben's had such a great repartee and their personalities really worked well together. I guess regular listeners will just have to wait and see how the show develops.

Speaking of podcasts, Chance of Gaming had an interesting discussion about American games companies and why so many games originate in Europe.

As a side they also had a chat about how gaming had 'gone underground' in central Mississippi.

To me the two issues are connected.

Without wishing to sound like an old grognard, over the years that I have been involved in wargaming I have been a member of a number of wargaming groups. These invariably meet in a church hall, and people would play any number of games, in every period/genre you can think of, and though cliques often developed there was a general openness to gaming - rather than have a proprietorial attitude to a fixed system.

This to me contrasts with my understanding of the FLGS culture that appears to be the way games are played in America. If Tuesday is Warmachine night, and Wednesday is 40K, and Thursday is Magic and Friday is Board Games, and each night is being used by the owner to sell more product, then to me that is a recipe for turf wars. Plus any new game has by implication to be a system game, which can fit into this model.

It's a subtle distinction.

The D6 had an interesting interview with Neil wots-his-name at Spartan Games.

I would define Spartan Games as producing system games - in the sense that they provide everything you need to play the game, and there is an implication that you can only use their rules and models to play the game. He made it clear that the success of the company took him completely by surprise. He was planning for a slow build of the company - which to me suggests he is in the tradition of the church hall games club - people will find the models and take them along to the club and the game will be played a few times by a few people, and others who are playing something else drift over and take interest in what is going on, and they then pick up a few models etc.

However, the models flew off the shelf - and they are certainly very nice models, which filled a hole in the market - because it was ideal for the FLGS model.

The problem for American companies - ignoring the insular nature of American companies, and the tendency to price themselves out of the market - is that the process doesn't work in the opposite direction. Even if you can get the models, the slow burn of the church hall club model tends to mean that business plans get sunk below the waterline below they have a chance to establish themselves. There are companies that have managed it, Wyrrd are certainly doing it at the moment, Privateer Press is establishing itself and D&D in it's various forms has always done well.

But regardless of business, I do find myself wondering why American gamers don't adopt the church hall gaming club model on a wider basis. It certainly offers a solution to the underground gamers in central Mississipi, and gets around the issue of Magic players crowding them out of the FLGS - and it might even get historical and sc-fi/fantasy players to try each other's games and find they have more in common than they imagine.

Ramble over....


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