New games are popping up all of the time, yet they don�t stay around very long at all anymore.
Compare to TV shows: concepts that sound good, are ‘green-lighted’ and then somehow don’t click or come together. TV shows get lots of attention, talent and money, but often implode or are axed by mysterious men in suits with no taste.
Game companies get lots of love, talent and little money, but often implode or are axed by mysterious media trends with no taste.
What are the longest lasting TV shows?* Soap operas. News. The Tonight Show. A couple game shows that are classic. Saturday Night Live, which anyone can argue has not always been great, but when it is, captures media imagination.
Have any games stayed that strong? Will they? Should they?
Lots of games don’t last. The Royal Game of Ur. Hounds and Jackals. Senet. Mankala. Go and Chess seem to have outlasted the rest so far.
So RPGs. We start with D&D in January 1974, and D&D’s still played if you count the incarnations it has gone through. That thirty years stands well with other endurance runs in TV land, but it will take a hundred years for RPGs to be considered more than a fancy of a few decades in the gaming world.
What do Go and Chess tell us about games that last? Chess is a bit immersive, but Go isn’t. Chess is a bit rigid with rules but Go is simple and elegant. Both games are very flexible, involving strategies that might take years to master.
But then, most folks today want games they can enjoy given an evening or an irregular schedule.
And just as real life doesn’t let you tune in to TV every week, neither do RPG campaigns have the benefit of overpowering the priorities of the real world. So who hasn’t stayed around very long, the games, or the players?
* longest shows: rec.arts.tv FAQ