Jonny's Action Plan To Save Roleplaying
"Roleplaying used to be big" would have been an excellent line to start this article with, if it wasn't for the slightly regrettable fact that it isn't actually true.
But although roleplaying was never what you would call big, it used to be bigger than it is now. Back in the mid-eighties we had magazines in WH Smiths, and a dozen games shops within driving distance of my house.
What went wrong? And more importantly, how can we put it right?
Well there are some obvious factors. The rise of computer games. The fragmention of communications caused by the Internet (that's a fancy way of saying that perhaps people don't need a magazine now that they have the Internet, but because the Internet is so fragmented, a thousand websites don't give the same sense of community that one magazine in WH Smiths used to).
But I think there is one factor that we are generally too scared to admit.
Roleplaying used to be dangerous.
You could admit you roleplayed to non-RPGers, because the response you were likely to get was something along the lines of: "Hey, isn't that something to do with devil worship? Don't people who do it, like, top themselves?"
And of course you'd deny it, but with the kind of smug, satisfied smile that implied that although what they'd said was basically bollocks, roleplaying was still a pretty "extreme" pastime to be engaged in.
Now maybe in America this thing still happens, but I get the feeling that it's a lot less prevalent than it used to be, and over this side of the pond it never happens at all.
Pretty much 100% of the population believe that roleplaying is a very safe, very boring, very sad pastime.
It seems pretty clear to me.
Back in the eighties, when the religious right were telling the world that roleplaying was devil worship - our hobby was booming.
But now that all but a mad hard-core have stopped urging parents to burn their offspring's splatbooks - our hobby is weak.
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