A few new members have joined my regular game group over the past year and very few of them are younger than thirty, which got me thinking are roleplayers an ageing breed, are there young players out there? Casting my mind back to my impressionable youth I remember the gateway games which drew me into this amazing hobby, the Fighting Fantasy gamebook, the primitive computer text adventure games. Which then set me wondering what is today's gateway game?
The console game world is littered with fantasy and sci-fi adventure games and first person shooters where the action is visceral and immersive. With literacy levels dropping throughout the first world are kids really going to want to get into a hobby where it requires effort to read and to visualize for themselves?
I've dabbled in the CCG world with games such as Magic, but they always left me feeling a little bewildered and frustrated as excercises in strategy and lack any opportunity for imagination or storytelling.
The gamebook is still there but has expanded into newer titles such as the popular "Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny series" or the classic Choose Your Own Adventure Series which is available as an app or an ebook (depending on your taste in tech). The big difference now is that you'll never bump into a copy of D&D (or in my case T&T) by browsing the shelves of the app store.
There are lots of big box adventure boardgames such as DOOM, Descent, Talisman, Runebound, World of Warcraft and now the Ravenloft Boardgame. But are these gateway games to RPGs or Boardgames?
Warhammer is still alive and kicking, but with the Rogue Trader and WHFRPS being being sold off to other publishers do the kids ever get exposed to these titles when they walk into their local Games Workshop store?
The future is pretty uncertain for RPGs (I doubt we will ever have an influx of youth again like we did in the 70s and 80s) unless technology changes our hobby into something that young people want to consume.