Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lost In Translation


My objectives in putting together this Anime/Manga Table Top Gaming theme month were pretty simple.

First, I wanted to inform.

I thought, 'Here is something I know something about, that I enjoy, have fun with and maybe others would have fun with it too, if they knew about it'.

Second, I wanted to reach out.

I thought, 'Maybe someone out there in the vast expanse of webspace is a fan of Anime/Manga gaming already and nobody is talking to them on the various gaming blogs'. Perhaps someone would see a post and say, "What? You like mixing your love of Japanese pop culture with your love of RPGs? So do I!" Maybe someone always wanted to try it but didn't know where to start. This would be for them as well.

Third, it's an ego trip.

Not all my motivations are purely altruistic. OK, most of them are but I'm not ashamed to say that I like being the guy who says, "I know about this offbeat but really cool thing. Come check out my blog where I will tell you about this offbeat, really cool thing nobody else is telling you about because they'd rather talk about the same old stuff".


The problem is, it's not exactly working as planned. Few people seem interested. People are reading it but there is no discussion. Not even a, "That sounds cool! I didn't know that existed."

As my wise friend Lord Blacksteel said:

"I think that's the biggest problem here BA - you'd have better luck finding some Anime fans and convincing them to play one of these than you would convincing the typical RPG group to play a game where everyone is a maid or non-violent animals. It's just way outside most RPG-era frame of reference."

Is it? Maybe it is. Maybe it's just too different and that level of crossover from one fandom to the other is too rare.

While Anime and Manga have become fairly mainstream (or as mainstream as any fandom related subject can be), RPG gaming still feels rather fringe at times (appearance on Community not withstanding). I am beginning to see why. We are very set in our ways we gamers. Not unlike comic book fans and I'm sure many other subgroups of geekness. The new and different is great, over there, where it can't bother us or intrude on our doing things the way we like them done.

That's unfortunate for me. I am left out of the 'we' and the 'our'. I like what I like and don't like what I don't, don't get me wrong in that regard. At the same time, I do always seem to be the fellow on the outside saying, "Why can't we try something new?". "Why can't we say yes to players?". "Who cares if they want a honking big sword if we all agree it still only does what a broad sword does?".


I do have a few more entries I'd very much like to tell you about, after that I will probably ease up on the theme and say whatever happens to be on my mind.

Next month's theme is Dungeons and Dragons.

Wonder if anyone will come by for that (eye roll).

Barking Alien


  1. I think you should stick it out and not worry about the level of discussion. Think only about your non-D&D readers, rather than of enlightening the benighted. After all, what you've covered so far is 101 to anyone who's matched your speed and heading.

  2. Well thank you fadedearth (cool username btw). I appreciate knowing someone is getting something out of it.

    As I said, I do have a few more entries I really want to get to, including my favorite J-RPGs and a play report (or replay as the Japanese would call it) of some of our more successful Anime/Manga influenced games.

  3. Well, if you lived out here in LA I would play Maid no problemo. I love games with a non-standard feel. :)

  4. Let me say I do appreciate the informatizing you've done here, don't stop - continue sharing. Even if I can't see any group I've ever been a part of playing "Maid" I still like knowing that it exists, and that if someone throws me a curveball in the future by requesting a domestic servant RPG, instead of faking it by suggesting GURPS: Maids and Manservants I can appear limitless in my knowledge and say "I know that game - let me go get it".

    The observation you mention comes from thinking about Apprentice Twilight's after-school anime club. I'm pretty sure you could walk in and have them playing any of the games in that last post in minutes, while they would never be interested in D&D or M&M or something like Deathwatch. And yes it's mostly, though not completely, female.

    In comparison, if I suggested it to the Xbox & 40K playing teenage boy group most of them would be "Animals? Maids? WTF? Let's play Jedi or Space Marines" and as a former teenage boy I really can't blame them.

    A more general anime style RPG, say Pokemon, would probably be a decent crossover though. Most of them like or liked Pokemon. Still surprised that type never got more than a BESM supplement.

    Or an Airbender/Avatar RPG with light mechanics. I suspect that would be a pretty solid hit too.

  5. I think it's a brilliant idea for a series and a very useful thing. It may be the wider audience is just taking it in, mulling it over, making some space in the mind for what could be very new ideas. It might be seeds you're planting here. The green shoots would then emerge in a later season.

  6. @christian - Ah, I knew there was a reason I liked you beyond the shades and surfer dude haircut. ;) Seriously though, thanks.

    @Porky - A more optimistic and poetic view I have not heard in many moons. Perhaps that is the case. Needless to say it would be nice if they asked a question or proposed an idea of their own to that end. Still, nice to think that my goal of reaching out to someone who will find this stuff interesting is working, even if they don't know what to say on the matter themselves.

  7. I think you hit upon a fundamental element of the RPG community: our diverse interests. I'm facing an issue now of a player who wants to do something that another player is vehemently opposed to doing.

    All that aside, this is your blog. To thine own self be true, even if it means fewer comments.

  8. We have diverse interests but I would put forth the notion that we don't always embrace that diversity.

    I know comic book fans who are gamers but won't play Superhero RPGs. I know Science Fiction gamers who, during any given session of Traveller, use Star Trek as a point of reference but aren't interested in playing Star Trek.

    We have the rare and annoying quality of being multifaceted and highly opinionated.

    No wonder aliens won't contact us.