[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Friday, 2008-11-28

Are PBEM roleplaying games dead?

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 13:02

Remember these?Once upon a time, people used to participate in role-playing games played through email. These were called, appropriately enough, PBEM games. They were great.

Then Internet-based computer games came along, and PBEM games slowly withered away.

I run a site devoted to helping people who want to play PBEM games find each other: PBEM News. As the years have passed, I have seen a trend: fewer games are being advertised, and the few that remain have gone almost entirely to being forum-based or wiki-based rather than being genuine email games.

I just don’t understand why anyone would run a game on a forum rather than use a venue like YahooGroups, which allows you to read on the web or read in your email, which lets you reply on the web or reply via email, which archives everything on the web and sends it to you so you have a local copy, which provides file space for documents and images, etc., etc. Rather than use YahooGroups (or a site with similar functionality), people running the few remaining straggling online RPGs have nearly all opted to host their games on a forum, which offer less than half of the functionality of YahooGroups and are often more complicated to use.

Here is how bad it is: I run a site devoted to PBEM games, and I can’t even find one superhero PBEM game looking for players. Not one.

Is PBEM roleplaying, like disco, dead? An artifact of a previous age, like channel dials on televisions, mourned only by Luddites and old fogeys?

I don’t know. Maybe play by email games are just… over. Like Usenet, and doctors who make house calls, and gas station attendants who pump your gas.

I feel really old.