Have been away seeing the fruits of my labours blossom at a live-roleplaying long weekend that so far has been very well-received indeed. It was been a blast (almost no sleep for three days with stuff to do) so now I'm back to the blog with a vengeance. OK, so you probably didn't even notice I was gone (cunning things, these scheduled posts).
6d6Fireball provoked a discussion about the pricing structure of roleplaying games and posits a provocative question about Dungeons & Dragons. In the background there is a vocal call to return to old-school retro-clone gaming. There is a classic dichotomy about play style as well as edition wars going on. You can find a sound-bite summary on the style issue at Penny Arcade.
I'm currently in the process of setting up my own publishing house (as it seems easier than going through a proxy, plus I've been curious about how you'd actually become a publisher after reading old Dragon editorials). Yes there are overheads - though this is true of any business an quality of output is always something you need to consider.
The traditional publishing model is undergoing a culture shift in an age of ubiquitous, on-demand information; whether you consider it reasonable to publish PDF only copies and let the customer decide what they want to print with your own backup regime or embrace the Book philosophy and need never worry about the cost of electricity at a slightly higher cost.
Newspapers are being replaced with websites and RSS feeds, traditional media packaging and distribution is being much more demand-driven by consumers. There are concerns about loss of value for such assets - after all if you're only being paid pennies per copy rather than turning the denomination of your choice, that's a tough market - good luck with it.
The ultimate game is like snow. It transforms the environment and encourages play yet there isn't much evidence of this kind of behaviour. Digital distribution is something that gaming firms are still having some difficulty with - despite the successes made by people like Nine Inch Nails and Coldplay, you're still looking at a propietary regime and subscription-based services.
Does it have to be this way? Probably not. Can the hobby survive the change? Definitely.
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