Monday, April 01, 2024

This is where I talk a little bit about my hobbies


I've been quite distracted lately, so I was unable to blog as often as I liked. My non-investment training workload has increased, and I've been busy preparing for new students. Now I'm focused on perhaps pivoting one of my investment courses, as sales were not good. 

Last week I tried to visit a fairly well-stocked game store, but after a number of days of discounted promos, the shop had closed for good. Lately, it seems that one of the big risks of growing old is actually outliving your hobbies instead of your hobbies outliving you. 

So today, I want to talk about how my hobbies rapidly change in 2023. 

a) Dungeons and Dragons may start its decline this year
On the surface, it's possible to be very bullish about D&D as a hobby as Baldur's Gate 3 was a resounding success, and this year is D&D's 50th year anniversary with a highly anticipated rule set. But Hasbro blew it with attempts to amend the Open Gaming Licence that made the game so popular in the early 2000s. Hasbro also had a brutal company restructuring last year, losing a lot of creative talent.  

At the moment, the game seems to be going through what the Linux operating system went through many years ago, it's splitting into many variants/distributions:
  • Pathfinder was a fork of 3rd Edition many years ago, and now it has resurged with a remastered version that has created its own IP.
  • Kobold Press is about to complete its version of the 5th Edition called Tales of the Valient.
  • Matt Colville, a super charismatic DM, is now launching his own RPG that is very similar to D&D.
  • Matt Mercer, who is a super successful voice actor who promoted D&D, is now showing off Daggerheart, a more descriptive and narrative system, to mixed reviews.
  • Cubicle 7 just launched Broken Weave, a heavily altered version of 5th Ed that is focused on exploration and narrative play.
I'm following all these variants and backed them on Kickstarter. All I can say is that they are all good, so it can potentially split the fanbase into many different enclaves which can actually squabble with each other. 

In this sense, RPGing is different from finance. 

In finance, I prefer dividends investing, but I can dabble in crypto and growth because I benefit from diversification. In fantasy role-playing, some gamers need to be conditioned to hate an 'opposing' RPG system instead of another because the gaming group functions as a tribe. Otherwise, players can be lost to another group, or DMs will suddenly rug-pull everyone with a new ruleset and a steep learning curve.

b) The wargaming hobby may be what role-playing's final state will be like.

I bought this beautiful wargame, B-17 Flying Fortress Leader a few days ago. It is a board game for one player that simulates bombing raids over Germany. On the surface, the gaming concept is ridiculous. To appreciate the system, the player will need to read up on a dense set of rules and understand World History. After which, he moves pieces around the board alone, with no friends at all. In such a case, the obvious thing to do is to make this a computer game, but stubborn wargamers have only loved this genre with its tactile feel of gaming pieces, and this game is even in its second edition.

There is a wargaming community in Singapore. It is very tightly knit and consists of Gen X gamers, old millennials, and one or two curious Gen Zs. The availability of wargames is almost entirely driven by one or two zealous individuals who organise group buying of these games from Amazon or Noble Knight Games. Retailing of wargames died with a shop called Leisure Craft in Orchard Point in the 1990s. Many of us had fond childhood memories of that outlet. 

I suspect tabletop RPGs' endpoint in Singapore will be like the wargames community. Shops must pay rent and can only sell high-volume or high-margin items like collectable card games or miniature wargames. Fragmentation of the Fantasy Role-playing genre will render the current approach to playing RPGs in-store untenable as different pockets of players will have their own favourite ruleset. 

I already spent most of my funds on Kickstarter and DrivethruRPG, so I no longer need game shops here - but I'm also no longer a regular player as RPG gamers have evolved into a more woke and younger community with different social norms. 

So that's happening to me as I hit my 50s at the end of this year. I am still determining when I'll ever play D&D again as my business interests are expanding, and my children will get more attention from me. I still consider reading RPG rules a fundamental part of my personal identity and can talk about RPGs all day ( in a theoretical way, unlike investing ). I am slowly building up a collection of solitaire wargames, but I may never play them if they are highly involved.

I might have a way out of my kids developing a curiosity about my hobbies, which is almost impossible in an age of Roblox-like platforms, consoles and mobile gaming. 

No comments:

Post a Comment