Wait…People Still Play Dungeons and Dragons?

Wait…People Still Play Dungeons and Dragons?

Lauren PesinTuesday,10 February 2015

Although you may not be nerd enough to have played Dungeons & Dragons, you’ve likely heard of D&D. In 2014, the game celebrated 40 years. With the current gaming industry: popularity of consoles; big screen TV’s; and electronic entertainment in general; it’s pretty amazing tabletop role-playing games (aka pen-and-paper Role Playing Games, or RPGs) have not only survived, but have continued to grow.

There are other games comparable to D&D, such as Rifts (post apocalyptic Earth), Paranoia (future earth dark comedy), Vampire: The Masquerade (non-sparkly cool vamps), Call of Cthulhu (supernatural horror), and Champions (super heroes). Though, D&D was the first published RPG that essentially led to the creation and development of the systems that followed over four decades and ultimately birthed the modern video-game industry.

From its creation in 1974 through its popularity in the 80s, there weren’t 70” screens matched with HD graphics, surround sound, and gaming chairs that approximate the visceral sensation of skewering an orc or lobbing an explosive ball of fire into the midst of unsuspecting soon-to-be goblin kabobs, so a story and creatures scribbled on notebook paper involving dragons and wizards was exciting. Today, although we have all this technology that enhances our gaming experience (even video game versions of D&D), millions still play tabletop D&D.

So in this technological age, what makes D&D stay relevant?

Random polling shows the reasons include: nostalgia, social nature, feeds imagination, and a sense of control and accomplishment.

In addition, D&D has inspired writers and filmmakers. Jon Favreau credits D&D for helping him become a good director. “It gave me a really strong background in imagination, storytelling…” Stephen Colbert claimed it changed his life.

Anonymous gamer said, “Gamers will always game, be it via PC, console, boards, or on paper. The issue is that video games are always trying to catch up to our imaginations. Tabletops never have to try. They just do.”

You may immediately think of geeks sporting “skolnick” pocket protectors with hair parted in the middle, replete with taped glasses. There may be some gamers who fit the stereotype, but many do not.

Just as current fans of comic books, sci-fi, and super heroes come in all shapes and sizes, so do tabletop gamers.

I can’t lie. I’ve gone into a Games Workshop to find a table full of teens to 40-something nerdlings rocking their Marvel tees, semi-groomed goatees, and frayed Chuck Taylors, munching on Cheetos and kicking back Red Bulls. I’ve also came upon a house full of gamers who were cops, musicians, athletes, engineers, writers, actors, and dads (and yes, even some girls). My husband has played role-playing games (RPGs) for 25+ years. His group of 10, plus his junior friends, have played once a week for more than 15. D&D started the gaming; has come and gone with other like games making their way into the circle; and always returns, with new worlds, characters, players, and Dungeon Masters (DMs).

In 2013, estimates indicated more than 30 million D&D players worldwide. Really, there is no way to estimate the true number of players of D&D or games that are played in groups driven by a narrator (the DM); multi-colored, sided dice; and printed rulebooks.

Simply put, there is little to no electronic footprint. Sure people purchase related books, but people share, copy, get materials online, illegally download them, or make up stories. Nobody knows how may people really play D&D. We just know people still do.

It’s okay to admit you play D&D. People will judge you, but be proud… you could be the next Jon Favreau or Stephen Colbert.

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