Because I’m not nearly enough up on the broader scene of indie RPG development, I know that nearly anything I come up with for this question is going to be pointed out as something that already exists. African Steampunk, maybe? Has anyone done that? I wouldn’t be surprised.
The great thing about RPGs is that it’s the world’s biggest and most flexible playground for fertile imaginations. The diversity of games out there has never been greater. I think this is both and blessing and a curse.
For someone my age, it’s already hard to get a group together to play something. Add a million different options on top of that, and you’re going to find it less easy to agree on one system or setting. I think the proliferation of online games shows that RPGs are going through the same fragmenting of audiences that every other media has since the Internet came along, and it worries me. I personally have never played an RPG online in a video chat or anything like it because for me, the whole point of tabletop games is the tabletop. I spend entirely too much of my time on a computer as it is, and to do so even more doesn’t appeal to me.
There’s something to be said about a homogeneous landscape because it’s easier to create and find shared experiences. Increasingly, it feels like we’re divided into tinier and tinier serfdoms. And that’s okay, so long as people are willing to reach out of their narrow, specific pockets, to take chances on other things that aren’t exactly what they want. So long as people are still willing to take chances, then we’ll be able to keep gathering around tables and performing the ancient art of communal story-telling.
I’m really happy so many people are living the dream and making RPGs. It really seems to me to be a golden age of creation. I just hope it is a golden age of play too. For me, it most definitely is not. Although I’m hoping to change that soon. More on that tomorrow.