“I Don’t Think D&D Will Ever Be Mainstream”

Stephen Radney-McFarland (aka srm) recalls a conversation he had roughly 10 years ago with Jeff Quick, then editor of Polyhedron magazine, and an employee of Wizards of the Coast, who were about to publish Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Those who follow the hobby know that this spurred a huge wave of interest in the game, reigniting the passions of 3000-year-old redheaded elves everywhere. That’s not a very large market, though, so luckily for WOTC (and for the hobby) a lot of other humans, halflings, gnomes and dwarves were interested too. And a few half-orcs, no doubt.

Anyway, I loved this paragraph:

Learn from [...] outliers. They’re not afraid of their geek. And not just the outliers in RPGs. People paint their entire body when to go to watch football. Dressing up like the people of Mad Men has become vogue in some circles. Some men love their motorcycles more than their wives. We are all geeky about something. In modern culture where we spend the majority of our time in the fluorescent flicker of gray cube walls, our geek passions give us color. And this world needs more color.

Stephen recounts telling Jeff the quote that is the title of the post. But from the perspective of 10 years later, it seems that he was wrong. Wrong in a way that he (and I) never expected.

Roleplaying has become huge. In part this is because of games like Diablo and World of Warcraft. Adults are getting the basic idea of pretend play back in their lives. I never expected this, but I think its good.

I’ve seen Army Colonels say that they think D&D is good for the troops, teaching them valuable lessons in teamwork and boosting morale. I know a woman that runs a after-school/summer camp based on doing RPG with the kids, and injecting specific lessons about geography, math, and sociology into the runs. When you have to do a math problem to unlock the treasure, there’s a little more motivation.

In about 1981, about a year after my first introduction to D&D, the local store stopped carrying any D&D related product. They had concluded that Dungeons & Dragons constituted demon worship, and wanted no part of it. My personal reaction was of the nature, “But don’t you get it? We’re killing the demons!” I don’t know how much of this reaction is still out there, I would imagine very little.

The web has been a huge boon to the hobby, beyond the advent of MMO’s. Sites like DriveThru RPG sell roleplaying stuff. and Think Geek specifically targets a geek audience.

Film and television has become laced with D&D and roleplaying sensibilities. The actual “Dungeons and Dragons” movie kind of sucked, it’s true. But then there’s “The Mummy”. Steven Sommers, the director of “The Mummy”, “The Mummy Returns” and “Van Helsing”, plays D&D. There is a sensibility to these films that is very familiar to those of us who gather around the table with strangely shaped dice. Particularly when we’ve played a non-D&D game “Call of Cthulhu”. John Rogers, writer of “Transformers” (the movie) and co-creator of the TV series “Leverage” not only plays, but has contributed to some of the D&D books. Vin Diesl not only plays D&D, it’s what inspired him to try to become an actor. Karl Urban (Eomer) plays too. Dame Judy Densch runs a campaign for her grandchildren. The very-indy film “Rise of Dorkness” is an engaging, feature-length film about a group of D&D players and the characters they play. It is apparently funny even to those who have never played any tabletop RPG.

Anyway, Steven’s post is really good, go read it. He has an embedded video that is really, really funny too, where the britcom “The IT Crowd” takes on D&D. Ne plus funny.

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