I admit this may sound uninformed or crazy, but I have been reading a lot about this topic and would like post my thoughts. Let those who wish to clobber the ignorance out of me at least be particular in their objections. Amen.
I came across one of Ryan Dancey's comments about the Escapist's Past, Present, and Future of D&D article. In it, he proposes a rather informed(my opinion) view of the hobby's distribution history and outlines the age old problem of new player acquisition. He even suggests the two areas he believes have the most clout for the future of traditional RPGS:
Digital: such as the Virtual Table Tops
Family Style: Where the game is designed for minimal prep, and quick in and out gameplay.
I don't do these ideas justice, but on to my actual point.
I believe there exists the possibility of a third, hybrid option. It begins by looking at how the overall concept of an RPG has evolved not simply as a game, but a medium. I believe that despite system, means of communication, theme, or even content, we are all developing some form of new medium that connects us to a larger whole.
I believe further that technology isn't simply device, but code and behavior that leads to advancement. We can spit at and argue about the merits and flaws of every game mechanic or developer decision across the entire industry. Hell, how many edition wars arguments have we all seen? In the end, we all seem to contribute to the development of the medium in the same way that that fuels the open source software movement. Even the old system resurgence feels to me like a search to find old code that suddenly has importance to the kernel again.
So what is the third option? I think it is Cross platform development, but unlimited by medium. I see a connection possible here. Everyone's bloody phone/Ipad/gadget is basically a globally networked data processor and transmitter these days. The problem doesn't seem to me to be technology of device as much of unification between table top's mechanics, experience of persistence, creativity and the larger videogame/mmo's ability to retain a visual representative and dataset.
If I'm some kid in class playing a linkup game with the kid across from me on my [Device] and at the same time able to hook up a player 'sic' at home, then why would the game have to stop when we shift into sitting at the lunch table? In an abstract way, if I can 'game' with my buddies in person, and via [Device], then are we not simply talking about implementation then?
I know, game balance and storylines and all that clash with open custom content, but surely there must be some way to deal with that problem.
I mean look around folks! There are some pretty damn smart people around here, and most of us are familiar with our Digital Avatars existing across mediums in some way or another.
So, is there a third option here?
Am I just nuts?