Sunday, December 11, 2011

What a Weird World

There have been a lot of posts lately talking about the possibilities of D&D 5e- when it may come, what it may look like, who it will target, whether it will heal the world and usher in an unending age of peace and prosperity, etc., etc.  Emerging in these discussions are a couple of very different perspectives that have been with us as long as 4e has been around- one that holds that 4e basically abandoned what made D&D D&D, and another that hopes that 4e is the way that Wizards moves in the future.

This reminded me of something I was thinking of the other day, about the demographics of gaming.  I think that RPGs- and particularly, D&D- may have some of the strangest consumer demographics in the world.  D&D hits a market that is 1) almost exclusively male, 2) almost exclusively white, 3) largely above-average intelligence, and 4) seemingly roughly split between ten and twelve year olds and people in the 20's, 30's, and 40's.

There have been some polls conducted on this age group thing... the numbers, are, I think, very hard to interpret given that what we are really seeing is 'how old are the people that hang around a small number of web sites and talk shop about RPGs'.  WoTC and other gaming companies probably have more realistic numbers, but they aren't, for the moment, talking.  I can't really think of any other activity that targets the same range of ages in trying to sell products.  Video games are in a similar category, but there are decidedly video games that target younger and older games, as evidenced by the various age rating labels that the publishers employ.  There are specific games that skew older in the RPG world as well, but then you have D&D- facing on the one hand a high-turnover demographic of young gamers who will pick the game up, buy a few books, and then drop out by the time they can drive a car and on the other hand a group of often very technical-minded older players who have thirty years of history (good and bad) with a variety of products sold under the same label.

How the hell do you address that kind of demographic split?  And what are the real underlying numbers?

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