The game called D&D is over 40 years old now.
Many of the people that invented it have passed on, so we can’t ask them what they think of the state of the hobby today. But that’s okay, because some people think they know, some people don’t care, and others actively despise what those men and women created.
TL;DR – The D&D hobby is made up of a diverse group of people from many backgrounds, ancestries and cultures (see what I did there?). Some of them look at this picture and see a rabbit. Some look at it and see a duck.
Some of the people that see a duck want it to be more duck-like. This makes some of the people that see a rabbit feel threatened.
Some of the people that see a rabbit want it to be more rabbit-like. This makes some of the people that see a duck feel threatened.
On top of all that, some of the people that see a duck think the people that see a rabbit are Bad People. Likewise, some of the people that see a rabbit think the people that see a duck are Bad People.
An awful lot of both types of people are losing sight of the fact that
it’s just a f****ng game.
As far as I can tell there are two major groups in the D&D/TTRPG Hobby right now (and a bunch in-between):
- At one end of the continuum we have what I will call the Direct Action Role Players – people who play the game and interact with the DM, the Setting and the other Players by using their Characters to role-play how the Players are overcoming obstacles and challenges set forth by the DM. “Hi my name is Stephen and I’m a human fighter.“
- At the other end of the continuum we have the Actual Play Live Video Streamers – people who play the game by playing the role of a person on camera who is playing the role of a D&D character, using game mechanics to roll-play how the carefully crafted character with an elaborate backstory overcomes obstacles and challenges. “Hi, I’m Stephen, the Purple Druid of the Eldritch Storm on Twitter. Tonight I’ll be playing the Purple Druid’s character, Balthus the Half-Orc. A Ranger with a secret, a dark past and an uncertain future.“
- In between we have other categories of people who consider themselves to be equally a part of the “TTRPG Community” (as gathered from the mentions in Social Media):
- People who watch Actual Play streams and recordings, read the rules and modules, but don’t actually play or DM.
- People who aren’t broadcasting their game but because they’ve seen the videos, think that is how the game is supposed to be played: as People playing Players playing Characters.
- People who do stream their games, whatever style of play, warts and all.
- People who see the game as an adversarial contest between the DM and the Players.
- People who see the game as a collaborative story-telling exercise, where the DM and the Players are partners.
All of these approaches are valid. You may not like or desire to participate in one or more versions of the TTRPG experience,
but that does not make those other versions WRONG.
There is No Community
No monolithic Capital-C Community exists.
Yet, to see the conversations on social media, some members of each group think other groups are doing it wrong. Or they think that members of other groups are involved in some activities in their work or personal lives that should disqualify those people from being part of the “Community.”
“Person X has a personal opinion I do not like or agree with and therefore they should be kicked out. Along with anyone that is connected to them, however tenuously. And if you disagree with me on this stance then you should be kicked out too.”
Everyone needs to stop acting as though they have been gifted with the enlightenment of the ONE TRUE WAY.
If you don’t like pineapple pizza, then don’t eat it.
Of course, now someone is going to try to drag me for likening pineapple pizza to alleged acts of raaaaacism or some other foolishness. Those folks know damned well that is not what I said, nor is it what I mean.
“IF YOU LOOK FOR THE BAD IN MANKIND EXPECTING TO FIND IT, YOU SURELY WILL.” — ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Quote written by David Swift, for the movie Pollyanna
What I do mean is this: Find your community. Find your group of like-minded individuals and do your thing. Have fun, together, doing that thing. Whatever that thing is.
Stop worrying about what the other kids are doing over at their table.