Lack of RPG's at Whiz Kids
I was running around town trying to track down various books for my son and others today. While I was at the downtown Riverside Mall en route to the Auntie's book store there (they had one of the books I needed on hold for me), I noted a store I had not seen before calling itself "Calendar Club Go Games". I decided to find out if they carried any role-playing games...
I walked through the store and did not see a section for RPGs, so asked the older sales rep if they had any role-playing games. She asked if I meant like murder mystery type, I explained, no, more like Dungeons & Dragons type, prior to mentioning D&D she did not understand what I meant. She showed me in the middle-rear of the store on the bottom shelf (floor) two boxed RPGs, one for the new red box of D&D and a boxed edition of Gamma World. All the shelves above that were mostly CCGs (Collectible Card Games).
A few stores down I noticed a Whiz Kids store and asked them if they had any role-playing games. The younger sales rep knew right away I meant D&D-like RPGs when I asked if they had any role-playing games. She stated they only had adult style role-playing games, and she clearly knew the difference. When I asked why something like Whiz Kids didn't carry any RPGs, which are well-proven to have powerful educational benefits, she looked uncomfortable and stated they sometimes carried a very small amount, and pointed me to the very back of the store, but they did not have any in stock lately. I thanked her for her help and left.
I stopped at Auntie's, and it completely lacked any RPG-style content.
This has me thinking about the different attitudes of the stores and the impact on RPG adoption. If only a very few stores even carry RPGs (they used to be at every hobby/comic/bookstore), then unless someone was already looking for RPGs, they would never have a chance to learn about them from just browsing in a store during the holidays and such (as I saw many doing, and overheard many saying they wanted to find a good game for their kids).
I am not certain I will do so, but I am thinking about putting together a very short questionnaire for game/comic/book store workers and owners. I would walk in, ask for their RPG's, make note of their reaction. Then after checking out what they had and noting it accordingly, and introducing myself and mentioning the research project, I would ask them if they wouldn't mind answering just a few short questions regarding RPGs (assuming they didn't look too overwhelmed - this might be better timed after the holiday rush):
Do you know what a role-playing game is?
(see what they answer, and make note if they think of D&D or some other valid paper-dice RPG, or mention something else like computer-based RPGs or adult role-playing)
Do you carry any role-playing games?
(make note of the size, quantity, placement, and products)
Their opinion of RPGs?
Were they aware of the studies showing how strong they are in educational benefits?