On the Outside Looking In On the Role-Playing Hobby

One of these titles is not like the others.

Stocking a game store is a rough job. There are at least four distinct areas of product in the tabletop game hobby: board games, collectible card games, miniatures and role-playing games. Part of running a store is knowing how to display the contents of each of those areas in a way that makes sense to people who literally come in off the street. It can require an almost encyclopedic knowledge of just one particular area of the hobby to know how to organize stock sensibly.

With role-playing games, it can get even more complicated. At Quarterstaff Games, it’s a bit of a crap shoot. Books by a particular publisher tend to clump together, but the publishers never seem to be alphabetized, nor are game lines sorted by genre particularly strongly.

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to see books placed together based on similar form factors. In the case of the pictured books, there’s a selection of the so-called indie set, typically published as one-off, hyper-focused games, plus the pocket edition of Spycraft 2.0.

There comes a point where any role-playing games that aren’t Dungeons & Dragons or a closely-aligned substitute are going to hang together, regardless of marketing gimmicks. Wonderful as Spycraft is — we had a lot of fun using the Stargate iteration a couple years back — it can’t have much bigger a share of the role-playing population’s time than any other title, regardless of who publishes it.

Long story short: from outside the role-playing hobby, it’s all the same and there’s little use in getting divisive and crabby.

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