When people refer to a game as “dead”, I think they’re using that term as shorthand for “no longer being actively supported by the creators, and so no longer getting new official supplements for me to use in my campaign or read”. If so, I think it’s a very wrongheaded abbreviation for several reasons:
- Your campaign doesn’t have to be supported by the publishers to continue. You can create material yourself. The publishers aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the only source of new ideas about a game. (A lot of people seem to have forgotten this, or perhaps they’re just busier.)
- Even if you don’t create new material yourself, you can re-read things already published and have new ideas about them.
- It seems to be an excuse for dumping on games that aren’t the New Hotness, which is a bad trend in all kinds of ways: it shortens people’s patience and attention span for enjoying older games; it’s a cheap way to seem cool by dumping on other people’s fun; and it discriminates against gamers who are poor and can’t keep buying new stuff all the time, for starters.
- Using this kind of shorthand is damaging to the success of games, the motivation of authors and, well, the hobby as a whole; if someone keeps referring to something you’ve poured your energies into (whether as an author, player, GM, reader or whatever else) as “dead”, it will in some amount sap your interest in pursuing that game.
For all those reasons, I think referring to RPGs as “dead” when you actually mean “no longer being actively supported by the creators” is a really poor, and in fact damaging, choice of phrase.
So, hey — if you’ve referred to a game as “dead” in the past, please rethink that phrasing.