Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Con Games

I was recently going through the RPG events at Dundracon so I could decide what to bring to sell. I was so intrigued with the variety, especially the D&D debate, that I woke up this morning and started plotting them. What are people planning to play?

Whenever I look at con games I get this immediate sense that I'm disconnected from reality. I would say that most role-playing games played at a con are not sold in my store, which had me asking the question: How relevant is my store to role playing gamers? Are these games played exclusively at cons, or is there an entire community of role-players of obscure and out-of-print games? How representative is this?

There is some Dundracon skewing to be sure. For example, the RPGA didn't get the space they wanted at the con, so they're holding a minicon at Game Kastle in San Jose. I want to call it a "protest" con, but that implies I know their intent and the full story, which I don't. The mini-con is drawing a large number of D&D 4 players from the region, the game that now dominates our RPG sales. I'm also told the Indie RPG crowd gets short shrift at the con, so they're only modestly represented. They aren't treated badly, but they could use a little more TLC. There are maybe half a dozen Indie sessions that I counted. Now that is representative of my sales. There are also local publishers at Dundracon that skew the numbers. Call of Cthulhu, Hero and Battlestations seem over-represented compared to what I know.

My initial reason for wanting to see the numbers was to check the D&D 3.x vs. D&D 4 split. Those who watched closely when D&D 3 came out predicted that we would see a 50/50 split the first year, followed by an almost 90% conversion to the new edition the second. So far those numbers appear to be holding true at Dundracon. You can find 20 D&D 4 games and 18 D&D 3.x games. There are even 8 AD&D games (1st/2nd) out there for the true grognard, and one original D&D game.

That big blue area on the left is "other." Games were thrown in "other" if they were played less than 3 times, my arbitrary method to keep the data straight. I figured it's probably one guy running his home brew or preferred system if it's less than three. The interesting thing about other is the wide variety of RPGs being played, over 50! If you're looking for an RPG buffet, Dundracon is certainly a good place for it. Getting into everything you want is another story.

Game Total
D&D 4 20
Hero 20
D&D 3.x 18
Call of Cthulhu 12
Star Wars Saga 5
Dark Heresey 5
Battlestations 4
AD&D 2nd Ed 4
AD&D 1st Ed 4
Paranoia 4
Mutants & Masterminds 3
Twilight 2013 3
Savage Worlds 3
Shadowrun 3
Misc 73


  1. The one I remember distinctly planning to play is Burning Wheel. I'm going to check out some other systems too, but I know I'm not planning to go for anything D&D. On the other hand, I'm a statistical outlier, so you'd probably do best by assuming that everyone else is going to do whatever I don't!

  2. One thing to keep in mind is that one reason you go to a big con is to widen your player pool enough that you can play that obscure game that would never fly with just your local group.
    This means that there SHOULD be a lot of one event "small" or OOP games being run.

  3. Hope to meet you guys at the Con!