A lot of interviews showed up recently. For this one, I was contacted by Nune, who is studying entrepeneurship in Rotterdam. (rhymes with "rune," one syllable)
His questions included what does it mean to be a role-playing publisher, what do you have to contend with, what should you consider, and especially, the term he used, market segmentation. That last is the part that we didn't get to, but set the context to ask sensible questions about it.
The context is definitely not what anyone expects or wants to hear. I am the wrong guy to advise how to succeed in RPG commerce as it stands today. I didn't think of this until editing, but this conversation serves as my Zinn-esque "A People's History" countering or counterpointing Shannon Applecline's Designers & Dragons. On that latter work's own terms, it can't be faulted as a factual documentation to celebrate RPG commerce from the early 70s to the present. On my terms, or in examining how my own life intersects through its every page, it is an edifice of banality, often destructive, in which the activity I'm celebrating has survived only because it's irrepressible.
As we began talking, I feared that I'd be, at the very least, wasting Nune's time. If you've been directed toward a notable entrepeneur for his accumulated wit and wisdom, the last thing you want to find is a guy living out in the scrub toasting a lizard on a stick, with one eye bulging wide and the other squinted almost shut, telling you, "It's all shit, sonny, do something useful instead." Which is a pretty good description of me, I think. However, to my relief, this turned out to be something he wanted even if he hadn't expected it.
To whomever's reading this, if you make it through this two-hour thing, then I'm interested in your take on market segmentation (target audience? demand?). Does it even work as a term or concern, given that the very concept of "play, design, produce text, sell" is rather illusory for what we do? I mean, commerce in the small or cottage sense is understandable, but not an industry in the sense of a widespread facilitative network, dotted throughout with employment supported by the collective and individual profits from sales.
To continue, if the term or some related concept is relevant, who or what is the audience, market, source of demand, etc? Is it even shape-able, influence-able, manipulable? To do what? To buy what? Is it about the doing or the buying? And if you're someone making (here's another term) product, then toward what end? Why bother?
I know the answers from a lot of people, many of them from their own mouths two decades ago. Most of those answers are outright vile. What possible answers would not be?