Sunday, October 17, 2004


I've always been a gamer (in the sense that I like games, whether it comes in the form of video games, mental challenges, or just plain trivia) my entire life and I find it interesting on how the pen-and-paper RPGs are different from Collectible Card Games (CCGs for short), yet half the time manages to find the same audience.

When you look at it, RPGs are the product of the generation that preceded me. For one thing, it required an investment in time. I mean the better RPG games I've experienced takes several hours at the very least. It's a game wherein you take your time considering your actions, and it's not something you can really "rush". Compare that to CCGs, which I think is really a product of the current generation. CCGs are quick games, on average taking half an hour to finish. There's also the fact that for RPG games, because of the time restriction, you have to schedule in advance when you're playing the game and commit yourself to it. The Game Master (GM) even has it harder since time is actually spent on preparing the game and setting the mood for the players. "Spontaneity" is not really recommended for experienced GMs, although improvisation is a talent they quickly develop. CCGs are the direct opposite: they're portable and can be played out of the box. You don't need real preparation, and one of the things I really enjoy about the game is that I could go to any shop and challenge the players there, even if they're complete strangers.

Which brings me to another point. For RPGs, since it does take time and since you schedule it in advance, you'll most likely be playing with your existing friends. Sure, there are exceptions, such as gaming conventions and the like, but more often than not, your typical gaming group consists of people you're quite familiar with. On the other hand, CCGs for me are the perfect way to meet other people. I mean all I really need is a deck of cards, in contrast to the character sheets, die, and gaming books for a typical RPG game. I don't even need to really introduce myself to other people: I can just ask to play with them, and the friendship will occur naturally. Or better yet, I actually trade cards with people. In RPG games, you talk about your character, or about your exploits, but aside from that, there's really not much interaction with the other person unless they personally experienced the same thing. When it comes to CCGs, that's not the case; you have evidence of what took place and once you flash the card that you're using, the other person can imagine what happened (as well as the other possibilities for a particular card). When I trade cards with other people, I'm not just trading a particular commodity: I'm also sharing a particular experience.

From a business standpoint, RPG games are a long-term investment: as a publisher, you don't get immediate results for your investment. The key to successful RPG-business is in the follow-up products you release in the months ahead, or the related accessories that go with it. CCGs, on the other hand, is perhaps "consumerism" at its heart. You buy a pack of cards and you get the feeling that you must buy more. And you do. And soon, you find yourself buying a dozen packs and actually plan to buy more the following week. CCGs is an addiction. And let's face it, you really need money to thrive when it comes to CCGs. Your initial purchase may be small (a typical booster pack costs somewhere between $2~$4) but in the long run, you end up buying more of the same product. RPGs, while initially expensive (a book costs something like $30~$40), it not something you really buy multiple copies of. In a gaming group, only one person really needs to purchase the book.

But hey, both games invoke the imagination of the player, and provide mental challenges. I like both games and each one has its own appeal. Perhaps both games having the same market just goes to show that no matter how different you may be, there's still a common element in each one of us that can be used as a uniting factor.


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