So, yesterday, we talked about how Video games just can't compare to Table Top RPGs, and went over a number of the strengths of the Table Top forum for gaming that simply blows video games out of the water. Today I want to talk about the inverse, where Video games are strong and Table Top games are weak. Essentially, the counter punch video games have that has, it seems, started to win them the battle.
Video games have been having a huge upswing lately, if you haven't noticed. Hell, the upswing happened so long ago I'm not even sure I should have mentioned it. However, you can't deny their popularity. The scary thing is, thanks to things like Farmville, and other 'casual' games, they're only becoming more popular. So what is it about video games that makes them so much more appealing to people than Table Top RPGs?
The biggest difference between a video game and a table top RPG is the visuals. Video Games,simply put, have better visuals. Animated character models, depictions of the world you're in. Video Games are able to properly "show, not tell" because they can just show you a movie. You don't need to describe how the sexy femme fatale walks, you just show them. You don't need to explain the scale difference between the two mechs, you just show it. Visuals is one of the big areas that RPGs just can't compete in their table top form. Especially as game developers get better and better at using those visuals.
Sure, you can imagine your hero standing atop a sky scraper and watching as the sun comes up, but a video game can show you that in all of its glory. It is a powerful tool in their favor, and one that Table Top games can't match. Imagination is awesome, I love using mine, but being shown the visual is a very powerful element.
Following along, and feeding into, the stuff on visual interface is the production values. Video Games just have more money put into them. Sure, a company may put a lot of cash into their gaming book, but that doesn't necessarily translate down to you - the consumer - the same way it does with video games. With these production values, the Video game can give you visuals like mentioned above, professional sounds for greater immersion, and voice acting so that every NPC you interact with doesn't sound like one of your friends putting on a funny voice and trying to act in weird ways to convey this NPC being different than that one.
If you want to see the difference in money, go look at the on going lawsuit between Palladium - an old staple of table top gaming - and Trion worlds over the game Rifts. You can get the skinny at Jason Richards Can Not Be Trusted, complete with links to the legal documents themselves. Video games are just simply much bigger business.
I saved this one to go into last, because it really is the big doozy. Table Top games are a major time investment. No, I'm not talking about the 4-6 hour play sessions. 4-6 hours isn't hard to scrounge up. I'm talking about it being 4-6 hours every(other) Friday, or whatever day you play on. You have a commitment to give 4-6 hours of your time to a game every set period of time. Which is a serious issue. Now sure, this is easy, you just schedule around it right? Except that it's not just one person's schedule that has to be ok with it. It has to be all 5-7 of you. You all have to be available for it, and regularly, or the game just can't happen.
Missing the odd session here and there is ok, sure, but if you're missing a whole bunch of them because of work, or just wanting to do other things, you'll likely find yourself without a game rather quickly. This is all assuming that the 5-7 of you can even agree on a night when you all are free and able to do things. It's amazing, and crushing at the same time, to see how a slight schedule change on one person's part can throw a whole game out of whack and even possibly kill it.
It is near impossible to be a drop in/drop out player in a table top as well. Sure, some GMs may allow it, but you are making a whole ton more work for the GM and other players by doing so. Not to mention that in some situations it is just impossible. Sure, you're free, but the party is in a dungeon and unable to meet new people temporarily, or have progressed significantly beyond your level in the time you were away.
Now, compare that to video games. You can just drop in or out on video game night, because video games don't really care. Just pass the controller and you're in. Plus, without having to go to someone else's house, setting up a weekly play time is easier for most people - especially since missing a session isn't as big a deal for the most part. The presence of single player modes in games also helps, as now your gaming doesn't have to be a social event. Plus, you don't have to clean up after 6 of your friends and their snacks if you're the host.
I'm sure there are more ways where Video Games are strong and Table Top is weak. More focused story, more focused game play. Able to do combat quickly, viscerally, and with a lot more flash. Those sorts of things, y'know. But the three I mentioned here seem to be the big ways that Video Games are beating Table Top.
I still prefer table top. I like the social experience, I like being able to make my own character that is custom to me and no one else. I like being able to tell my own stories, and interacting with worlds on a level others can't. But, I have to admit, there are times I just want to sit down and play a good video game. Sometimes, they're just significantly less work.
What are your thoughts on the matter?