Gamers Must Die!by
I mentioned this month's column title to one friend, and he sagely nodded. "Ah, yes," he said, "it's an important part of any game-- that death be a reality the characters sometimes face, to give weight to their decisions."
I interrupted him, brusquely. "No, I mean that Gamers-- the Players-- should Die."
Pause. A puzzled query. "Are you advocating homicide?"
I smugly nodded. "Oh, don't think it's that extreme. It's just the only way to curb the evils of small publishing and market dilution." Lapsing into marketing-speak, I began to elaborate.
Already, gamers prefer to war with each other than do anything else. The Usenet flame is seen as the pinnacle proof of skill. Disciples of specific game systems war with the infidels from the other side. Call it dice versus diceless, points versus classes, LARP versus tabletop, it's all the same conflict: "What I like is better for all."
And what drives this? Why, clearly that there are too many games out there! Faced with such diversity, well, it really leads those poor gamers down the path to conflict and chaos. And it neglects the basic reality-- that the market is a purely Darwinian affair, where only the strong survive. So why not wipe out all the rabid factionalism, and just end the whole mess? It improves the gene pool, and improves the entire gaming market.
Before you say no, consider it a bit more. It has its seductively appealing side. See, I am like most people. I hate gamers. Bitterly.
Oh, not the people I game with... they're, ummm... not gamers, I guess. They're (for the most part) nice people, with lives, perspective, all that stuff.
But have you ever been at a convention, when, lo! a "typical" gamer doth approach? The one who walks up and says "Let me tell you all about my character!"? And proceeds to relate a distinctly non-Homeric tale about a banal session of extended violence and personal cheat-beating? The pinnacle of which is nearly always the same-- an especially lucky roll in a situation involving extreme firepower?
Now, if facing death is something that gives their characters meaning, surely it can improve them, also. Just imagine how this will improve the hobby as a whole! Peter Adkison of Wizards of the Coast once commented that he thought the industry should lose a lot of the smaller publishers. The kernel of wisdom in this folly-filled saying being that it is a glutted market, to a large degree. Cards didn't bring in new gamers, and it leeched some away. So we're rapidly approaching the point where there's one publisher for every ten gamers.
But it's so hard to get rid of publishers. The big ones have layers of lawyers to protect them. And the smaller ones are hearty sorts, used to a lousy distribution system that can't get their products out, even when gamers exist to buy their stuff.
No, to truly control the industry, one has to act against the individual gamers. Nix the customer base, and you'll clear out the deadwood real quick. By slaying the hordes of players, well, we'll cut that market to size! Nix the right ten gamers, and suddenly one small publisher loses its core fan base. Nix another ten, and there goes that nice indy miniatures outfit!
Why, get rid of enough "fringe" gamers, and you'd be left with a nicely trimmed market, ready to support only the biggest and best! Look at the leaps and bounds that merely throttling the small publisher has done! Much more room on the trade floors for big castle-like displays. And you can tell the industry is booming because of the steps already taken with this!
After all, the basis of the entire industry is the individual gamer: what they want, what they buy. And they're already bickering among themselves. Just a little bit of careful planning and (one quick jihad later) you could have a wonderful controlled market. Fewer gamers is always a good thing.
It'll also make the distributors' jobs much easier. Instead of dodging overdue debt owed to many small publishers, they can simply worry about their top ten accounts. And no longer will they have to answer with phone with "Hello, local distribution, that item is out of print, how can we help you?" Instead, they can just be order-takers, sending products to shopkeepers only when properly supplicated. Much as they do now, only at last it'll be ethical!
Shopkeepers will be spared the tedium of having to actually keep track of the gaming scene. Instead, timely regular delivery of the hottest products will just drive droves of gamers into their stores, to buy Buy BUY!
So, less variety I say, rather than more. Homogenize the industry. Have just a few market leaders, and we'll continue with the current upward growth. Squelch the small press, and together we'll ride on to victory!
With none of those pesky gamers to worry about, no less!