The "Holy Trinity" of Gaming United Once and For All
Wargaming, Card-Gaming, Roleplaying. These three words represent markets whose core audience demographics overlap to such an extent that it is often thought that the markets are in competition. Even gamers, who otherwise have a huge amount in common, often refer to the above terms as a form of segregation. Which I feel is total rubbish.
Most people who might refer to themselves primarily as wargamers have played a CCG or two, as have roleplayers. Equally likely is it that a card gamer has glanced over a roleplaying book at some point and had their way shown around a tabletop battlefield, etc. I don't even feel entirely comfortable categorizing them as I have above, as I know such generic labels have very little meaning. The only problem is that because individuals have limited resources and time, most people can't afford to participate in all three, and as such find themselves drifting towards one particular group.
Possibly not helping is the fact that until recently the really big guns in each market have pretty much stayed off each other's turf. If you were a war gamer (who was into fantasy/sci-fi rather than purely historicals), chances are you would end up buying product off Games-Workshop. If you were a Card Gamer, Wizards of the Coast, Decipher or AEG were probably your best bets. Roleplayer? T.S.R, White Wolf, Iron Crown Enterprises, etc.
But in the past four or so years, what were fairly clear boundaries have been shoved aside as the gaming industry as a whole repackaged itself. Wizards of the Coast expanded, and through the phenomenal success of Magic became what I would categorise as the first truly cross genre company with the acquisition of Dungeons and Dragons. At the time, some people reacted as though the event was unthinkable, a Card Gaming company taking over the world's most well known Roleplaying brand name. What would happen next?
Well what happened next was WOTC became part of Hasbro, and started making miniatures, which everyone knew would lead to wargames. Others are following this cross genre strategy, with Decipher working on Roleplaying games for their Star Trek and Lord of the Rings licenses, and most recently and perhaps most interestingly, Games-Workshop buying 85% of Sabertooth Games, the company they licensed the rights to do CCG's of their intellectual property who have been having success with their 40K CCG.
These moves are not the faltering steps into each others market place we have seen in the past, nor desperate attempts to compete in an already cramped market place. They are declarations of intent, and to me they all say the same thing:
It's time gaming, of all forms, became mainstream.
Once stereotyped as the recluse of 'geeks', 'social misfits' or those 'not into sport,' gaming is being dragged out into the public eye by the people that make a living from it. Perhaps fueled by the successes in the computer gaming industry, which has been making larger steps in this direction ever since the explosion of the home PC market and online gaming (or perhaps simply because the properties have fallen into the hands of companies which have become large enough to sustain and expand on them), wargaming, roleplaying, cardgaming and even boardgaming for that matter, are showing great growth.
So right now it's important that the gamers who have been in it for the long haul embrace this. Too often in the past have gamers excluded outsiders and even each other from these hobbies. Either by hiding their interest to people outside of the hobby because of fear of some sort of stigma being attached to it, or, worse yet, purposefully setting themselves apart because the style of fantasy or sci-fi game they play is different from another, and the companies that produce the products they purchase have some sort of overly imagined rivalry.
This sometimes verges on the ridiculous, with insults being hurled between card gamers, war gamers and role players across various mediums and forums, and the companies involved in these hobbies being called 'monstrous', 'satanic' or 'evil' for their business practices. As far as I am aware, there is no gaming company which employs third world labour, causes mass pollution problems, hires mercenary forces to protect their interests or lobbies governments for the continued protection of their market share. These guys and gals are simply trying to make a profit selling fun games based around figures, icons and ideas of popular culture, and it's time we as gamers not only accepted these people as simple businessmen with a product to sell that we enjoy, but took the hobbies they produce to the rest of the world.
So if you find gamers in your area are segregated into card gamers, role players and war gamers, why not try generating some interest in each other's hobby. You will undoubtedly have things to talk about outside of the different games you play, be it movies, computer games, books or music. But more importantly, you might find your groups can band together to attract new players into all the hobbies, and share your resources and materials to give each other a chance to try a new game. By doing this you will be helping ensure continued growth and acceptance of games as a whole, and ultimately that's got to be good for everyone.