Results of Poll 15: Downloadable Games
Creationism Exam Question Scrapped

New Poll: Tabletop Role-playing Games

I'm curious as to how widespread the tabletop role-playing game hobby is these days; in the hobby game shops of the US, there's still a reasonable amount of shelf space allocated to the big names (principally Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness), but how many people are actually playing them?

This poll seeks to answer the question with the characteristic inaccuracy of a self-selected internet poll!

Feel free to discuss the poll in the comments.


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There's no real option available for "No, but I'd really like to if I found a group."


"Only a bit online, does that count? It's really not the same, is it?"

I was in a few regular games in college: Nobilis and GURPS were the systems we used.

What exactly counts here? I mean obviously regular board games like Monopoly and Risk are out, but what about something like the WoW board game. It is a role-playing game, but in the way that computer RPGs are, not in the way that D&D is. I guess you are really talking exclusively about the latter and not the former, but I like discussion ^__^

I found some really old D&D books and things in my attic once when I was a kid. I thought it was really cool and read/fooled around with them for a while but then I got bored because I had no one to play it with and decided videogames were better.

Yes it is hard as you need a group of like-minded players and one who can GM. I always enjoyed tabletop RPG, but once the group I was mainly playing with moved away to uni etc that was that.

So I second Sirc with "No, but I'd like to if I had access to a group."

*chuckle*. I spent last weekend at Stabcon, and played a very enjoyable Jasper Fforde-based game as a Neanderthal Jurisfiction agent, and a slightly patchy Phil Masters-GMed GURPS Discworld dungeon crawl as Igor the Adventurer (war-cry: "Oh thit!"). Tabletop roleplaying is alive, well and living in England!

(Chris, we also came up with a very odd game with some aspects of Hive, a few of Carcassonne, and some of just getting messy with whiteboard pens - I'd love to try it sometime if you have a spare evening, as we didn't have the bits to make it at Stabcon.)

Neil - there's a Friday night tabletop group that meets about 10 mins drive from Chris' if you're interested?

i've been gaming (tabletop rpgs, story games, and wargames with cardboard counters) for 3/4s of my life so far, and i don't intend to stop. i like oldschool roleplaying of the James Maliszewski kind as well as modern story games like Capes, and most sorts in between (though i'm particularly fond of the psychologically sophisticated roleplaying games like Pendragon, Unknown Armies, Burning Wheel, and The Riddle of Steel). what's more, i know a lot of people who also feel passionately about tabletop games, several of whom i game with regularly.

given the many indie games being produced every month* (and considering that the designers can only represent a very small portion of the hobby, since most people just stop with D&D4 or some such mainstream game), i'd say that it's pretty certain that tabletop gaming is widespread and healthy right now.

*i mean, go take a look around Indie Press Revolution some time:

I have two regular groups that meet about every 3 weeks and I'm looking to start a 3rd group that meets no less than every other week.

Of course, I'm publishing my system soon and following it up with a participatory storytelling manual, so I'd better game a lot. ;)

Trevel/Neil: "No, but I'd really like to if I found a group" falls under option 2 as far as I'm concerned. But then, I'm a social sceptic in this regard as unless you live in Antarctica I don't see why one can't find or make a group if one really wanted to play. :p

Katherine: what counts as a tabletop role-playing game? Any narrative play experience moderated entirely by people and not by pre-specified mechanics such as cards. So the World of Warcraft boardgame and any other RPGish games like Arkham Horror wouldn't count. :)

whately23: I'm not so convinced that the thriving of a free indie games underbelly shows the health of the hobby, but it certainly shows the *persistence* of the hobby. :p

Thanks for the comments!

Well I guess I want to play with the people I know - and if they aren't into it I am unlikely (and slightly unwilling) to make new bridges (thanks all the same Peter!).

Also, if I examine my preferences carefully I will find I would much prefer to play online games on my xbox than sit round a table. :-( Not that I don't have exactly the same problem there as I list above - an inability to go online looking for people who I don't already know...

Bit of a shame really, as I would list online gaming as in my top 3 of favourite pastimes. :-)

Incidentally, I can probably mine summary data from Manchester's main hobby games shop's membership database if you're interested - though it includes a lot of CCG players. Of course, this assumes the database is recoverable, as apparently it's on a failed HDD with no backup *sigh*.

Neil: So, on reflection, you used to play tabletop role-playing games and now you don't. >:) *giggles*

Peter: if it's "low hanging fruit", I'm definitely interested in data. But don't go out of your way on my account!

Yes, I chose number 2. :-D

fair enough, i suppose, but it isn't just the free indie games that i'm talking about. there are indie games being produced all the time in printed form (or even pdf) and sold. i can think of dozens of games produced for sale in the last 5 years, a scene almost as diverse as in the '80s at the height of FGU.

however, even the free games are pretty indicative of a thriving amateur side to the hobby, which usually means that there is support for a professional side. that, to me, indicates a very healthy hobby.

whately23: you make a good case here. If I'm not completely convinced, it's only because I've become overly accustomed to trusting the numbers. :)

The internet has allowed many hobbies to thrive to a degree previously impossible by linking fractured hobby-communities into meta-communities. Thus, I suppose I expect to see an indie scene of the kind you intimate (which in no way undermines your claim).

What I'd really like to see is sales figures of any kind - but alas, I don't think I'll find any. :(

I've been playing a Scion based game for a bit over a year. Previously my group had been playing Ars Magica variants for the previous 15 years or so.

im rather disapointed i used to play d and d and advanced dungeons and dragons.but most i cant find online in text and illistrated format.mmorpgs muds and moos are good but what happend to ravenloft,forgotten realms,the games are hard to find and the hobbystores are crashing.from lack of inventory why cant they sell all rpgs tabletop or make text and illistated mmorpgs.on pre existing play human age game thats the best one rpg i can an example.thank you.

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