Game Wish 27
Ginger’s latest WISH:
The RPG market is dominated by fantasy (with horror coming in second). Why have most attempts at creating a science fiction RPG failed (commercially or artistically), and what would a hypothetical SFRPG need to catch on the way fantasy has?
The reason, I think, for SFRPG’s doing much less well than Fantasy and Horror RPGs is simply a reflection of the market of fantastic literature. Fantasy and Horror sell much more briskly than SF.
Looking at Amazon’s bestseller list of SF/F, out of the top 25, 2 (3 if you count Michael Crichton, who writes more in a thriller vein than pure SF) are SF and the rest are Fantasy or Horror. Fantasy sells, and sells much more than SF has, probably since the early 80’s. Once the “phat fantasy” and series fantasies really got cranking…Eddings, and Kerr, and Brooks, and Jordan…SF fell into an eclipse and hasn’t recovered since.
Some of the points from my fellow bloggers dovetail into this. Fantasy is far easier, I think, to make into a game, than SF. Whip up a world, a magic system, new races and creatures, and you have a fantasy novel…or at least that is the perception. Writing SF involves a lot more variables, and providing an SF universe is likewise much larger for a GM to deal with. I think, thus, that since there are more fantasy readers, or more fantasy is read, the creative efforts at RPGs naturally head to fantasy rather than Science Fiction
Worse, one of the only current good examples of an “SF” RPG, Star Wars, is based on a franchise which George Lucas has admitted has as much or more roots in fantasy and myth as it does in Science Fiction. Traveller is around in a couple of forms, now in a D20 format (and I wants the precious. 😀 Traveller was the second RPG I ever played, after D&D)
What you need, I think for a good SFRPG is a setting that both invokes the sense of wonder that SF allows for the variety and experience of an SF universe, while being manageable by the GM. I am interested in the new and improved Blue Planet setting, for example, and I think it might meet those requirements–but, then, people not interested in an aquatic, exotic, world are out of luck. Traveller is around in a few forms, as is Fading Suns. I can hope that Traveller T20 helps invoke interest in SFRPGs. I’d love to try my hand at it.