Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gaming Costs

Today, I would like to talk about the high cost of gaming.

Gaming has always been an expensive hobby. In the documentary Über-Goober, one of the interviewees says that gaming saved her from a life of drugs. She follows this by saying, "How can you afford drugs when you're spending all your money on gaming books?"

And I know this to be true. I've been there. I've been the one spending the majority of my weekly income on gaming paraphernalia. I used to get a new gaming book every week. I had quite a collection (much of which was lost when it was in the car that got repossessed).

But today, it seems as though a week's salary won't get you as much as it used to. Things have been easier for me since I stopped playing (or even attempting to play) collectible trading card games like Magic: the Gathering and Arcadia: the Wyld Hunt. And there aren't a lot of standard RPGs out at the moment that I feel a need to collect; the last two games that held enough of my interest to entice me into buying anything were Changeling: the Dreaming (which was put on hiatus and left languishing there until they ended that game line) and GURPS (which is in 4th edition as of a couple years ago, and all the GURPS products coming out at the moment either don't interest me or are basically compiling and updating 3rd edition products for the new edition, so I already have all of the material in these books). I don't play D&D, I'm not interested enough in Cyberpunk 2020 or Shadowrun to buy any of the books, Little Fears folded, and I have only a passing interest in most of the other systems out there.Even so, I see the kind of books on the gaming shelves, and I wonder why anyone would spend that much money. It's all fluff, pretty wrapping paper around a lack of content. Or maybe not a lack, but certainly not enough to justify the price tag.

Let me put it this way: in the old days of the original D&D, there were few (if any) illustrations, the pages were plain black text on white paper, crammed full of rules, background information, charts and lists, and the like. Some games eventually started making their books look nicer, but really, does that change the content that you're getting? Is there any more info in the fancy full-colour tomes replete with page backgrounds that use a lot of ink for no other purpose than to make the glossy colour pages look like antique parchment than there was on the plain black-on-white pages in the original D&D books?

So it seems to me that we're paying more money for the same level of rules.

But that brings me to another point. Why keep buying new rules systems at all? I feel that I have gotten to the point where anything that you'd want to do can be accomplished using a rules system that you already know. The d20 system, just as one example, has supplements allowing it to be used not just for fantasy, but also for modern, horror, science-fiction, and various other settings besides. The original Storyteller System was set in modern day, but later supplements have used the same system for Cyberpunk, Medieval, WWI, Wild West, Renaissance, mythic, space travel, superheroes, and pulp-adventure. And let's not even discuss universal systems such as GURPS, Torg, or Rifts.

So any system can be used for any setting. I once ran a GURPS Celtic Myth game using the Storyteller System, because it fit better with the mood I was trying to create.

You don't need to buy new books. If you find a new setting you like, take the setting and apply a rules set that you already know to it. Save your money. And maybe, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can even create your own setting.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about today. I hope you found it interesting, and even if you didn't, I hope you remember to

Game on!

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