Underserved Gaming Genres

Role-playing games are a diverse medium.  Sure, mostly they are trapped in the genre ghetto of standard fantasy/horror/SF plots, but really you can play anything from a kid in the Polish resistance during the failed uprising of 1944 (Grey Ranks), a space-babe trying to win the love of a humanoid rat (Space Rat: The Jack Cosmos Adventure Game),  a slave in pre-Civil War America (Steal Away Jordan), and more.  But I can’t help but notice that three of the absolute most prominent fiction genres are severely underrepresented in RPGs.  These are:

  • Cop Fiction
  • Crime Fiction
  • Military Fiction

This seems odd, as players love to kill things and flaunt convention, and these genres are definitely the ones you tune in to on TV if you want to see someone get their ticket punched or act out.

In my next posts, I’ll investigate these genres, canvas what RPGs do exist in those areas, and examine common “problems” with those kinds of games and what, perhaps, we can do about them.

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6 responses to “Underserved Gaming Genres

  1. I’m a big fan of Genre Conventions and how they’re used in RPGs, as evidenced by the genre-bender articles on my blog.

    Still, I know very little about Cop / Military / Crime fiction beyond the basics and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll come up with.

  2. I’ll have to keep an eye on this as I start my Starship Troopers campaign. Right now I’m leaning towards giving the PCs the option (and perhaps a bit of prodding) to go mercenary at some point if Big Brother gets to be too much.

  3. Excellent point.

    I wonder if that’s because typical genres feature more flexible stories — if my players move off in an unexpected direction, I can recover easily in a game where they primarily want to kill something (just give ’em something to kill).

    However, cop and crime fiction requires that somebody did it–and it has to be supported by the evidence. It all has to make sense at the end, and the players have to figure it out as they go along. Haven’t we all played with people who just couldn’t figure out a simple puzzle?

    This is not to suggest that crime/cop dramas are a bad idea, just that they may be rare because they’re more difficult to pull off in a tabletop RPG.

  4. Plain Cop and Military fiction might be kind of boring. But cop fiction try something like Gum Shoe
    http://www.pelgranepress.com/gumshoe/index.html
    For crime fiction look at Dog Town.
    http://www.coldbloodedgames.typepad.com/

  5. I also have a vested interested in these genres and surprisingly my players don’t seem too keen on them.

    I’ve thought of a Cop fiction game but my only references that I know of are Law & Order and CSI.

    I’ve offered a Mafia game before but my players have refused. Which is surprising considering one of them is a great Mario Puzio fan.

    For military fiction, I prefer the mercenary route or something like the A-Team.

    Would love to hear more of what you have to say.

  6. Pingback: Underserved Gaming Genres 1: Cop Fiction « Geek Related

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