I’ve been an RPG gamer (I mean Pen and Paper/Tabletop version not computer games)1 for too many years to remember2 and at varying intensities over the years. Right now I have a regular once a week game (online using G+ Hangouts), do a bit of designing and enter lots of nerdy/geek discussions on it. And today my intertubes have been filled with the news that, lo and behold, there is to be a new version of a game about dungeons and the occasional dragons including an article in the New York Times where they talk about “crowdsourcing” this version.
I shrug my shoulders and worry about something else. I have no issue with Dungeons and Dragons RPG or any of the editions – however it has been come something of a standard or emblem of the whole roleplaying hobby. People who don’t really know much, if anything, about roleplaying will have heard of Dungeons and Dragons. And certainly it’s one of the grandfathers of the hobby.
But you know, it’s not the entire hobby at all. It’s a large visible portion sure. But it was not what got me into the hobby. I do not own any books from the series (though I have on many occasions flicked through the Player’s Guide). I only ever played two campaigns of it but only after first playing and running other games for ten years.
I wonder how non-gamers see the hobby. Do they think we all play Elves and Dwarfs raiding dungeons for loot using miniatures on a hexed sheet? I’ve played vampires in the modern day and the ancient world, fought the evils of technology and then donned black suits to keep the aliens secret. Wielded magic entwined with philosophy and esoteric theory and created alien races in the depths of space. I’ve even ran games of gods and demons fighting over the world.
Yet Dungeons and Dragons still forms the outsiders perception of the hobby. It really is the tip of the ice-berg you know. From open-source story systems to systems using CCGs (collectable card games), drawings, cards or beads instead of dice. From linear stories that explore “sedate” human relationships to the pure freeform pleasure of story telling.
And lets not forget LARPs (Live Action Roleplaying) that combine something like Historical Re-enactments with roleplaying and story-telling. While it’s never really been my cup of tea, people do put a lot of effort into them and they are hugely popular.
Yet none of that or news from other non-Dungeons and Dragon’s games gets an article in the new New York Times.
1Yea, terms here are a bit confusing seeing that computer game players seemed to have co-opted the traditional terms we use such as “gamer” and “RPG”.
2I think it’s about two decades now, my friends may have a more accurate accounting.