My good and oft mentioned friend and player Dave is fond of placing my games into one of two categories.
When I run games at the Compleat Strategist that are meant to appeal to a large number of players, he tends to call these my 'Blockbusters'.
When I run smaller games, often featuring some crazy idea that I just need to try out to either prove to myself it can be done or get it out of my system so I can move forward and work on something else, he calls those my 'Art Films'.
The analogy isn't perfect but it is appropriate. Often the games I want to run as Blockbusters are really Art Films I am better off saving for a small group of really open minded gamers who want to give something really nutty a go. I sometimes need Dave to point this out as I don't see it myself.
Dungeons & Dragons (in whatever form), most Superhero RPGs and IPs like Star Wars or Smurfs fit best in the Blockbuster category. Mass market appeal, not deep knowledge necessary and easily playable with a large group of differing tastes.
Ars Magica, Hunter Planet and IPs like Oz or Red Dwarf seem to fall into the Art Film area.
THe Muppets is an odd beast (that comes complete with odd beasts for convenience!). It seems more indie/Art Film in concept and system but seems to appeal to large numbers of people. At least, that's the impression I get from the NerdNYC/RECESS attendees and those you responded positively to the project on my blog.
I guess it has to do with how well known or accessible the subject is.
On a sort of related topic, last night was awesome. I got to attend the event at the Soho Gallery of Digital Art with some of the NerdNYC guys and gals and talk gaming for about four hours with two very different sets of gamers.
One group was old school, die-hard D&Ders, including one fellow who had a White Box signed by Dave Arneson from the fellows formative days playing with Gary and friends in Gygax's basement. These guys were serious. They ate 20 siders and bled charts. OK, maybe not but it was weird for me to be in the presence of those who said stuff like, "OK, he has the highest Intelligence score so he should roll for figuring this out." Gah. Heartburn.
The second group was smaller (of course) but consisted of a good number of people I knew who organize and run games at RECESS. This group discussed wild concepts for games, unusual mechanics and some really innovative approaches that, they admitted themselves, might work and might not. These was the indie gamers and I felt really comfortable walking among them.
The fellows running the event were Tavis (who I knew from RECESS/NerdNYC) and Tim (who had more to do with the art exhibition itself). Tavis is Tavis Allison, author of Adventurer Conqueror King and quite old school. Tim was very indie and is working on this awesomely awesome project that I will hold off speaking about for the moment as it's his baby. It's crazy cool though.
Best part was all these people intermingled, talked without the biting nastiness that you see here on the internet and had a wonderful time. I was incredibly inspired by the whole thing.
But what do I want to produce? Will it be a big budget, extravaganza Blockbuster or a deep and introspective Art Film on the meaning of existance. Any way for it to be both?
Going to try...