D&Dopoly

Deadorcs Question
Deadorcs Question

Towards the end of last week, Deadorcs (Randall Walker of Initiative or What?) asked a question:

deadorcs: If #dnd were as popular as say (I don’t know) Scrabble or Monopoly (but not be a board game). What would that look like & how to get there?

Mad Brew's Response (1)
Mad Brew's Response (1)

My reply was that such a feat was improbable. Mostly because the amount of involvement, buy-in, and general work required by players is a hurdle too great for most people to overcome. Indeed, the imagination required must have been unfathomable to a vocal part of the population in the 1980s during the prime of the D&D-is-satanic scare.[1][2]

Mad Brew's Response (2)
Mad Brew's Response (2)

Maybe I spoke too soon. I think I know what D&Dopoly would look like and how it got there.

Legacy

The anti-D&D fervor of the Eighties, while mostly gone, has still left a legacy. So in order for D&D to become a popular kid, it would have to put that legacy to rest (hopefully in a hole deep enough that when its remains become reanimated, the zombie cannot crawl out). While education, celebrity fawning, and wearing your D&D badge where everyone can see it does a lot to kill that legacy, time is D&D’s greatest ally in this battle.

Even harder to conquer than its satanic roots, is D&D’s hardcore geek legacy. Only geeks, nerds, and dorks play D&D, man, or worse. Right? Well, no one wants to be a dork, so the D&D player needs to be an everyperson: women, men, doctors, lawyers, factory workers, secretaries, plumbers, landscapers, actors, & lingerie models. Again, education, celebrity fawning, and time are the biggest champions here.

Simplicity

Even if D&D was the golden child of games, having been blessed by the Pope or promised virgins in the hereafter, it would still have to overcome the complexity of rules that are present. Also, let’s not forget the one element that truly separates roleplaying games, and thus D&D, from board games, and that’s scope.

D&D allows players to freely improvise character actions in order to achieve a possibly infinite number of goals.[3] The scope of D&D is an impressive thing, so impressive it puts off prospective gamers because they like finite possibilities because they’re easier to manage.

But how can you simplify the game without sacrificing its identify? You could do watered down starter sets, but I think technology is the key [see below].

Market Penetration

The giant phallus of marketing would need to bury itself into the tight, little love channel that is the people’s game shelf. To be as popular as Monopoly would mean that just as many homes have D&D. What can marketing do?

First off, put the kibosh on shitty fucking movies and other media. Get them while they’re young (make an awesome cartoon series complete with posable dolls/figures, pajamas, and goddamned coloring books). Execute an effective transmedia attack on people. Yes, it would mean a serious investment, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

D&Dopoly

D&Dopoly is not what it sounds like… or maybe it is! Hasbro owns both D&D AND Monopoly, so why not cross pollinate and make D&D themed Monopoly boards? Put that in your merchandising strategy right beside your transmedia attack.

Anyways, what would the popular D&D, brother to Monopoly in every home, look like?

Well, it would be a couple of decades from now, when the biggest religious opponents from the eighties are now confined to filling their Depends while mumbling nonsense about the “good ol’ days.” Touchscreen tabletops, like the Microsoft Surface[4], have pervaded people’s home (no doubt riding the coattails of the iPadXX). High society parties dress up like wizards and demons and play exclusive adventures written for them on giant versions of the tabletops found in normal consumer homes.

It’s all there, the rules (classes, spells, powers, etc.), the maps, miniatures (virtual or physical… which has its own memory to save your stats & loot), and even dice (again, virtual or physical), only the touch-app running on the table does all the calculations for you: movement (hopefully we’ve dropped grids & hexes by then), damage, and even what actions you may take.[5]

The Awesome Part

You want to know the best part? The rest of us who already dig D&D don’t even have to wait. I say fuck popularity and to hell with whether or not roleplaying (D&D included) is as popular as Monopoly. Once it gets to that point, there is a decent chance you won’t like it.

Listening to:  Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones – Descendant

References


[1] Robertson Games has a recent article about Chick Tracts from the 80s.
[2] Anyone remember Patricia Pulling & her Bother About D&D group? Check out The Escapist’s write up on one of their brochures.
[3] I developed a pretty damn good definition of a roleplaying game a couple of years ago. Which is where I’m pulling this comment about scope.
[4] The new Microsoft Surface.
[5] Oh wait, there is shit like that already in development!

2 thoughts on “D&Dopoly

  1. Great thoughts, MadBrew! I think you’re correct that D&D is going to have to bury some ugly pop-cultural history if it truly wants to take its place next to games like Monopoly & Scrabble (in popularity). Now someone needs to book Vin Diesel into GenCon so that he can run a couple of games.

  2. @Deadorcs: Yeah, I think overcoming the social stigma surrounding D&D (and RPGs in general) is, without a doubt, the biggest hurdle for popularity. Everything else can be solved with finite amounts of money.

    Thanks for commenting!

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