I’ve been reading the Finnish tabletop roleplaying scene’s thoughts on making a low-threshold game meant to attract new people to the hobby. This has resonated with my own thoughts on roleplaying. I do believe there should be a low-threshold game, however, I’m on a completely different track to the majority of people discussing this.
The common idea seems to be a rules-light game based on a popular stereotype (generic fantasy). Why bother? If all you want is vanilla D&D, there is already vanilla D&D. You’ll never get into it unless you’re into rules, so the very high threshold to entry should work merely to deter those not cut out for it anyway.
A better take I’ve seen is taking a pop-culture icon and turning that into an easily digested game. Say, Lost. Or Alias. Then the game should be found in places where non-gamers tend to shop. The less there is to study about the game’s framework, the better.
What I haven’t seen discussed is breaking the ages-old roleplaying methods down a bit. Boardgames are living a new renaissance right now. The practice of playing a roleplaying game could be moved more towards that – use a board, a theme everyone gets without explaining it and have goals for everyone. This could be good because a boardgame doesn’t have the gamemaster vs. players setup, and everyone is working together to gave fun – there is no gamemaster doing all the work.
It probably shouldn’t be marketed as a roleplaying game, though, if mass market appeal is sought.