Friday, September 11, 2009

WotC's About-Face on Digital D&D

I don't know if you noticed this or not, but I did. I'm sure you've seen the 4th edition advertisement at the back of the 4E Player's Handbook depicting a laptop on a stack of D&D books with the quote, "Make your party even better with the help of another PC". There's another one at the back of the 4E DMG saying, "Sitting behind the screen is better if you are sitting in front of one too!". These were published, of course, in 2008.

The interesting part is that these advertisements work opposite to promotions used by WotC a mere year or two before, where they attempted to poke fun at MMO players. These promotions depict tired sleepy gamers sitting up late at night, alone, staring blankly at their screens. The captions position D&D in opposition to computer gaming and read "Your mighty band of heroes will never be defeated by a server crash" or "If your going to sit in your basement pretending to be an elf, you might as well have some friends over to help." Both of these end with the tag, "Get Together. Roll Some Dice. Have Fun". A final promotion reveals a windowed building with a social group of D&D gamers together and anti-social MMO players sitting in the dark playing alone.

This is a really interesting portrayal as they've taken the early D&D stereotypes of anti-social computer geeks - a stigma still attached to D&D gamers - and applied it to MMO gamers. In contrast to MMOs, these promotions suggest, D&D is a friendly (non-satanic) social game. What a scream.

These images are particularly interesting given how WotC embraced the online initiative only a year or two later in the hope of an MMO style cash grab.

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