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The "operating system" metaphor is a very apt one indeed. (See "In The Beginning Was The Command Line" by Neal Stephenson for one view as to how operating systems and viewpoints/belief systems mesh)

rockgator wrote:

"I've also found that the people who get into RPGs for the long-term enjoy tinkering with complex systems too much to lock themselves down into a single generic system"

For another parallel, the current group of gamers are very like expert users or coders. The above quote from rockgator is an example.

(BTW, I have written at least 3 RPG systems myself, and have been co-designer/developer on at least three others.)

The current state of the industry is, in part, due to the fact that gamers expect everyone to be an expert, and write material accordingly. (Other social aspects of the gaming culture I will not touch on in this post are at work in reducing the size of the adventure gaming market) WOTC understands this. They wish to expand the market, not continue to restrict it.

SJG does in fact have a version of GURPS called "GURPS Lite" available for free download on thier site ( GURPS has come closest to the "open source" model, with dozens of licensed products for GURPS. They have never had the capital to exploit options in the way that WOTC does now. GURPS has a kind of "Unix" mystique, if we continue the OS simile, but is not generally used by beginning gamers, and can be quite intimidating to the uninitiated. Chaosium, with it's excellent CoC system, has never broken out of it's niche, due to the reasons cited by Kergillian. White Wolf's Storyteller system is too closely associated with the WOD background to break away, much like CoC has been too closely identified with Lovecraft.

Perhaps the best competeitor, in OS terms, is Last Unicorn Games' Icon system for the new Star Trek RPG. Like West End Games' D6 system for Star Wars, it is nearly the perfect mesh between system and subject (much as CoC has been with a much smaller audience).

But please note the market share for LUG (and SJG) in my original post. Those kinds of numbers speak for themselves.

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