|The Problem With Roleplaying|
I had a conservation with a bloke at my work the other week. I mentioned that
the latest attempt to launch a printed roleplaying magazine in the UK had
apparently failed after two issues. He immediately replied: "Well that's not
surprising is it?"
I asked why?
"Well I've only met one roleplayer other than you - and that was a bloke I worked with years ago. There just aren't enough roleplayers to support a magazine."
Numbers. That what we always say to ourselves, isn't it? There aren't enough people. Now I'm not denying that we couldn't do with more, but I think the answer is more complex. His next lines gave me the clue.
"I mean I'm into radio-controlled model planes, and even that's only big enough to support two magazines, at least there's only two really decent ones."
Radio-controlled model planes. Well, as I pointed out to him, I'd only ever met one person into that hobby, ever, and that was him. He was clearly assuming that loads more people were into his hobby than roleplaying, but I don't think that's the case.
I figure there's as many roleplayers as there are radio-controlled flight enthusiasts. Maybe more.
The problem isn't numbers. It's money.
I asked him how much it cost to be into radio-controlled planes. Initially he acted like anyone does when they think you're attacking their hobby, with a robust defence of how little money it needs: "Well you don't need much... you can get started with a few bits of balsa wood and an elastic band..."
Eventually though (I had to prod him a bit) he came up with a ball-park figure of £300 (about $450) per person per year. That's about what he expect the average person to spend on planes, controllers, tools, books, magazines and so on.
£300 per person per year. And that's the average person. The serious enthusiasts will spend a lot more.
What about our typical group of five roleplayers, meeting up for a game every Thursday night. You figure they spend £1500 ($2250) a year between them on roleplaying stuff? Some maybe, but I'd guess most of them come some way under that figure.
That £300 pounds a year that each model plane person spends supports an entire industry, supplying planes, controllers, spare parts and probably a whole lot more crap. And the myriad of companies making up that industry all need to advertise their wares.
And all those adverts support two thick, juicy, thriving magazines.
It isn't lack of numbers that's killing roleplaying.
It's because it's too sodding cheap.
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