This 4th of July, I went to a family reunion where I overheard a few relatives talking about games. A few mentioned that they would like to play D&D sometime. I had the impression that none of them had ever played before, nor knew anyone who did. It was a perfect opportunity to offer to DM a game. Even without any books or materials, I probably could have managed an impromptu game with just some six-sided dice, pencils and paper. Instead, I said nothing and let the moment pass.
I Pick and Choose My Audience
I run a D&D blog. Obviously, I enjoy talking about D&D. But writing articles on a blog, frequented by other people who already play, is not the same as discussing it with (or around) people who have never been exposed to any sort of role-playing games.
Some people will simply think D&D is weird. A few may only know it by the absurd anti-D&D propaganda of the 70s/80s. And many will be fascinated to have an opportunity to finally talk with someone who can tell them what it is all about.
The point is that you don’t know who you will be talking to, or what their opinions will be. For the most part, I don’t put myself in that situation (at least not when it comes to D&D). If I am surrounded by people who play, I enjoy talking D&D with them. If there are also people who don’t play, I tend to avoid the topic, or just sit and listen.
Why Care What Other People Think?
I won’t bother with the self-analysis as to why I am somewhat secretive about my hobby. Many reasons come to mind and all are valid, to varying degrees, for anyone who feels the same. However, one reason jumps out to me more than all the others. WotC markets D&D to children. Their customer base obviously goes far beyond that age range, but their marketing specifically targets children. Therefore, I always hear (in the back of my mind) any non-gamer I might talk D&D with, wondering why a grown man would be playing a children’s game?
Now gamers may know that D&D is a much more sophisticated game than that implies (at least among more sophisticated players) but I don’t want to be put in the position of having to explain that. Nor do I want to expend that much energy, on a subject the other person probably isn’t that interested in, when that person is just a casual acquaintance.
Despite what it may sound like above, none of this reluctance is due to my being shy in any way. In fact, I’ve always been very opinionated and outspoken. So much so that a friend of mine has repeatedly told me to “be Switzerland”. By which he means let it go and just be neutral. Let someone else fight the battles and only jump in on the important ones. I think that has a lot to do with my choice to sit back and not mention that I am an enthusiast, when there are those around who may not be. Other D&Ders can introduce the uninitiated and, if I feel like it further along, I can always chime in later.
What Do You Do?
I’m curious what other avid gamers do. We all have friends who we knew before we asked would be great fans of the game. But do you tell all your friends that you play? How about your relatives? Your co-workers? People at parties? I think the intro to Roll a D6 is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. This girl is cornered by one of her friends about why she is busy that night, and she is hesitant to tell her it is because she is going to be playing D&D.
I’m very glad that D&D has become as mainstream as it is. Everyone knows the name. Most people know, at least in broad terms, what the game is about. It is owned by Hasbro and sold in most bookstores. Gary never would have dreamed back in the 70s that it would ever get to this point. But it can always use outspoken proponents, telling new people about the game and reading books in public, to keep the game as popular as it is. I don’t want to be one of those front line people, but I’m so glad other people are willing to take up that flag!