So let me start off with a relatively short bit of news that predates GDC.
The Escapist had a two part interview with Wizards of the Coast (part 1, part 2) about Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition. Here's an excerpt:
[Alexander Macris]: What is the audience for today's Dungeons and Dragons, and how is that different from the audience for my Dungeons and Dragons, growing up in the '80s and early '90s?
[Andy Collins]: One thing we certainly saw over the course of 2nd edition was the audience did tend to age along with the game. The game was a very playable, a very entertaining system, but it didn't necessarily speak to the people who were coming up into the optimal RPG age category through new ways. When we were all playing 1st and 2nd Edition, we didn't cut our teeth on MMOs or console gaming or Facebook or any of those things. At best, maybe we had experience playing Monopoly or games like that, Risk, so that D&D was a totally foreign thing. That's just not true anymore.
People today, the young kids today, are coming into exposure from D&D after having playing games that have very similar themes, often have very similar mechanics ... they understand the concepts of the game. So in some ways they are much more advanced as potential game players. But in other ways, they are also coming from a background that is short attention span, perhaps, less likely interested in reading the rules of the game before playing.
And I'm not just talking about younger players now, but anybody. I know when I jump into a new console game, for instance, the last thing I want to do is read the book. I want to start playing. And that's a relatively new development in game playing and game learning. And we've been working to adapt to that, the changing expectations of the new gamer.
Right. So 4E is the way that it is because they believe that everyone has a short attention span.
To be honest, the article doesn't satisfy at all. They still seem to be happy with the direction they've taken D&D, most of the interview sounding more like a big advertisement (though through no fault of the interviewers). But I guess that I feel that way in part because I'm predisposed to not liking 4E.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are good things about the system as well (I honestly don't know it in-depth enough to tell). But the main issue I have with it is what it caused them to do to the established setting(s). And there's really not much of any comment on that at all. But then, I seriously doubt they'd come out and say "we were wrong, sorry" anyway.
But take it for what it is.
[link] to interview with WotC part 1 at The Escapist.
[link] to interview with WotC part 2 at The Escapist.