Monday, September 6, 2010

A World Map of Gamers

My already-infrequent C&C Wilderlands campaign is now officially on hiatus. I'm just too burned out on running D&D right now. If/when I don the DM's hat again, I'll most likely be keeping things extremely basic, in concept as well as in rules. That leaves my ongoing single-player Pendragon campaign as my only going concern at the moment. This is fine by Des, as Pendragon is her all-time favorite set of rules. In effect, she's become a "single system" gamer, but instead of, say, D&D or whatever, she's over the moon for Pendragon.

This led to a discussion this morning in which she picked my brain for my thoughts on how gamers break down in terms of system allegiance. How many people are like her, she wondered.

"Very few," I replied.

Since we're both visual thinkers, we began a thought exercise. How would the gamer population be represented on a map of the world, going strictly off of land mass. Immediately, I placed D&D 4e in Asia and the rest sort of fell into place from there...

Obligatory Flame-Retardant Internet Disclaimer: This is all purely subjective, of course. I have no market research to back any of this up. It's based more on my perceptions of the gaming community based on reading blogs and message boards and from seeing what's on the shelf at game stores and book stores, plus my own skewed view of the hobby. For all I know, you could switch the Indie Gamers and the White Wolf Gamers. In the end, it's pretty much impossible to get a truly accurate view of how the RPG community is spending its time. This is just how I perceive it.

(Clicken to embiggen...)

Remember, this analogy is based on equating land mass, not population, with popularity.  And by popularity, I mean: "This is what you're gaming four out of five sessions."

The "Old World" as it were is the realm of single-system D&D players (which is also metaphorically very fitting, I think). Fourth Edition occupies the greatest landmass, but d20/3e/Pathfinder also owns a significant chunk of real estate. The Old School Renaissance is a small but significant corner of the realm, and let's not forget the folks who just never stopped playing the old editions, be they 1e, 2e, or whatever.

After some thought, I plunked White Wolfers over in North America. This may be out of date, I'm not sure. But judging from the fact that, in any given Borders or Barnes & Noble, you'll see at least a dozen volumes of White Wolf games along with the many tomes of 4e and Pathfinder material, I'm guessing White Wolf still maintains a fairly hefty chunk of the market, and most people who are into the World of Darkness or Exalted seem to me to be like their D&D cousins - single-system gamers.

Australia gets the indie gamers. These are the folks who, though they may play a wide variety of RPGs, tend to play "indie" games primarily - Burning Wheel, FATE, Dogs in the Vineyard, and whatever flavor-of-the-month is currently generating buzz over at

That leaves South America for everyone else (and for my purposes here I've lumped in the Caribbean isles - I think single-system Pendragon players would represent, say, an island somewhere in the Lesser Antilles). These are the folks who, like Des, are single system gamers devoted to obscure or niche non-indie titles (Pendragon, Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, HERO, Palladium) or else the true "hobby gamers" (like how I was back in high school and college): the folks who compulsively buy and play games from a wide variety of genres, companies, and design philosophies to the point where there's no clear majority held by any one game or system.

Oh, and LARPing is down there in Antarctica. May it remain forever so.

Update: Cyclopeatron presents some hard numbers based on sales figures.
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