I was limiting myself to the question that was asked. As I understood, it was: historical tabletop gaming in the USA.
Maybe I’m wrong, or my experience isn’t typical, but I have the opposite view. From my vantage point, there seems to be more of everything wargaming than ever before. More artistic, more creative, more imaginative, and more numerous, even within just the scope of what I would call classic wargaming subjects.
Across the world? Yes, definitely. Within the USA, though? Are there really more US-based hobby manufacturers than there were 25 years ago? More gamers? More products? Coming from the USA?
We don’t have a lot of hard data to go on, but there are at least two metrics that spring to my mind:
- Twenty-five years ago the hobby was dominated by US-based companies who sold tens of thousands of copies. Nowadays, I can’t think of a single US-based game publisher that sells anywhere near that number. Of the ten biggest hobby companies in the world (figure makers, game and magazine publishers, etc.)… how many are based in the USA? If the hobby was growing in the USA – and by “growing” that presumably means new guys, buying new stuff – then are they buying all that new stuff from abroad? (Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine a lot of hobby “growth” without a concurrent growth in the sales of products that constitute that hobby.)
- If the hobby is really growing in the USA, then where are they? They aren’t showing up at the big conventions, whose attendance figures are often either stagnant or falling. Sure, I’d love to imagine that there must be tons of new guys in the hobby who just, for whatever reason, don’t go to the old conventions, but… Okay: does anybody have any proof of that?
In the absence of proof to the contrary, I’d say that the trends indicate shrinkage. Again: I’m speaking only to the question that was asked: historical tabletop gaming in the USA.
I game less, game with fewer people, and go to fewer shops and conventions than I did 20-30 years ago, but now have more gaming contact, than I did then.
I agree; I can say the same thing about myself, and almost every gamer here that I know. If we game less, with fewer people, and go to fewer shops and conventions… and our main contact with the hobby is now far-away people via the internet….
I think that’s a pretty accurate description of the state of historical tabletop gaming in the USA.