*Controversy!* Should "story games" be included in the RPG category?
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Posted by freebiegrabber

I've played a few "story games" (such as 'A Town Called Malice' and 'Dialect') -- they seem to be more "make-it-up-as-you-go" than true RPGs (i.e., they have few if any dice rolls, no character sheets, no core rules, etc.).  Should these types of games get their own category, or should they continue to be lumped in with RPGs in GenCon's events database?  What do you guys think?

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Posted by brotherbock

RPG is 'Role' Playing Game, not 'Roll' Playing Game :)

If it's a game, and you're playing a role, it's a role playing game. Bigger tent! Always a bigger tent.

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Posted by derekguder

I've thought about that, actually - the size of the RPG and BGM categories is such that they would probably be much more useful if they could be carved up, but the challenge is in figuring out how and where to make those divisions.

The purpose of event types is to help folks filter events based on their preferences, which requires the categories to be fairly self-evident and match people's expectations.

"Story games" would be a good candidate to spin off from RPGs in general, though I'm not sure there are enough of them to have a significant impact on the total number of RPGs, so the utility of creating a new category that doesn't reduce another is limited. There's also the question of whether it serves attendees better to take those out on their own, or if folks who might only pay attention to RPGs would then miss these events by not knowing they need to look elsewhere.

To provide some further context, there is also the further complication of needing some fairly significant development work to add/remove/change event types, so while this is something we've been considering for a while, it's not likely to happen in the immediate future.

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Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by brotherbock

If we're talking about official categories, I see the problem as a legitimate slippery slope.

My group runs LARPs, and we run them diceless. We have rules and mechanics, but there are almost never any dice, cards, or etc to mediate in-game conflict. We play that out almost always by storytelling. But I know others who run games very similar to ours, except that they do include dice/cards/some sort of random conflict determiner. So their games in the end are much closer to table-top D&D, just standing up and walking around. And if you only take away the dice, but do everything else the same, then you have our games. And then if you make the rules even more loosey goosey, you get other more free-form games. But there are no clear lines to be drawn. We sometimes use a die, or cards, or other similar mechanics. Just not very often. Others are further in one direction up or down the scale.

If the game description and game system are clear enough (and potential players read those...cough cough), there shouldn't be much difficulty in finding games you want to play. We very rarely over the years have had people show up and say "Oh, wait...I thought this was different". When boffer games first came around, and they started calling their games 'LARPs' without talking about boffer at all, some of their players would occasionally show up to our games expecting boffer...but only because the boffer folks were new on the scene and somehow didn't realize they were using an already established term. :/ Most of them now clarify, and it's all good :)

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Posted by helenbb

NASCRAG pops to mind. Technically, NASCRAG is Pathfinder, but there is very little dice-rolling. We might roll dice 3 times in a 4 hour session. The point is to roleplay, and to embrace your character and how they would react to the story. Does that mean that it does not qualify as RPG? What about those Pathfinder character sheets? 

It's a slippery slope.

If the RPG category needs to be split (and I can completely understand why this might be the case) why not break it up by gaming system? D&D could easily be its own category, as could Pathfinder/Starfinder. Once those are removed the RPG catalog would be a lot smaller. And people looking for RPGs would definitely head over to a D&D or Pathfinder/Starfinder category.

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Posted by funny-shaped dice helenbb

helenbb wrote:If the RPG category needs to be split (and I can completely understand why this might be the case) why not break it up by gaming system? D&D could easily be its own category, as could Pathfinder/Starfinder. Once those are removed the RPG catalog would be a lot smaller. And people looking for RPGs would definitely head over to a D&D or Pathfinder/Starfinder category.

Honestly, that's a great idea. As a gamer who does not like either PF/SF or D&D, but recognizes they are insanely popular, I would love it if I could easily ignore them - and I'm sure there are others who would welcome the ability to focus on those events.

As it is, I grab the Excel spreadsheet when it becomes available and use that to get around that problem.

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Posted by derekguder

Mapping event categories to game system does not meaningfully help anything - there is already a game system category, so that provides minimal help and multiplies the number of event types well beyond a useful threshold (it's already a problem).

There is a big difference between changing event types and simply adding the ability to search/filter/sort off an existing field.

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Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by brotherbock

Point taken, although I think the folks above were thinking of an 'All Except D&D' category as being useful--search for all RPGs with one or two game systems excluded. I'm not sure how many people would find that useful, though.

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Posted by a dark rider on a pale ... unicorn?

I'm trying to remember; 
when filtering events, you can select specific categories, and I think specific systems?

Can you exclude specific systems in the searcher? 
​​​​​

( I'm usually looking for a specific system, or for any game in a specific time block, so there's never enough of the stuff I'm not interested in for it to be a bother skipping over it )

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Posted by syntruth

The problem we've ran into is the inconsistency of the game system field. Since we can enter whatever we want into those fields when submitting a game, a lot of variation happens. Trying to filter with that variation becomes...tedious.

Easier said than done, due to the sheer number of games and systems, but if the game system field was pull-down with a predefined list, that would fix some of the filtering issues.

I mean, D&D is the big one, with multiple versions *and* multiple abbreviations. Savage Worlds is one I'm more familiar with. Even before the current SWADE version, Savage Worlds would have multiple variations of the Savage Worlds Deluxe moniker, so the games would get spread across several 'game systems' but were all the same system.

I have a fuzzy memory from many years past where it was stated that Mr. Guder and team tried to consolidate and normalize the game systems, but that can't be an easy task with the sheer number of entries and limited human-like folks having to do so manually.

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Posted by matthias9

Personally, I like the Excel downloads as an interface.

Sort by game system.  Yes, you get multiple iterations of some, but not that difficult to deal with in this fashion.  Also, you might stumble across some intentional variants that you'd have otherwise missed.  Also, this is pretty easy way to, for example, delete all the D&D, if that's what you're looking to do.

In fact, my normal way of approaching events every year is to download the whole thing and go through it "line by line" and delete things I am immediately uninterested in.  This includes large swaths of things, though, so it actually goes much faster than 'line by line'.

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Posted by ematuskey

I'm a library science/metadata professional--I'd be more than happy to volunteer to reconcile the free text in the "game system" field once the bulk have been submitted so all the games were grouped together.  :D  You could open up a whole new volunteer sphere for data cleanup!  

Game classification is actually a big thing for me (if anyone noticed Amazon's RPG category improved a few years ago, you're welcome--it's not perfect, and has gotten a bit out of date since then, but it's better than it was!).  The tricky thing about splitting up RPGs by something like "story-based" vs "mechanics-based" is that over the last ten years, story-based mechanics have crept their way into all sorts of games.  Games like Apocalypse World, Amber, and A Town Called Malice are easy to lump into the "story based" category, but where do you put "in-between" games like Fate or Savage Worlds?  

If I could wave a wand and add new filter options to the catalog, I'd add two: Setting, for the type of world the players are playing in (ie, fantasy, historical, future/scifi, contemporary, etc), and Genre, for the "tone" of the game (ie, Adventure, Horror, Comedy, Mystery, etc).  But even those can be highly subjective and fraught with potential issues.  Fraught, I say!  

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Posted by wdavidlewis

I like a wide variety of RPGs and I'm going to comb through all of them.  No matter how you carve them up, some group of people aren't going to be happy with the division.  And then other groups are going to ask why their games can't be put in a separate section too.

The way it is works fine. If I need better searching, there's third-party sites.  If I need even better searching, there's the Excel file mentioned earlier that I can carve up any way I want.

And love the scare quotes around story games...  Seems revealing.

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