D&D 5E Are we at, or close, to peak D&D? Again?

Hussar

Legend
Ignoring the unpleasantry...do you have data to back that up? I feel safe assuming that for tons of people who went to high school in the 1980's, D&D never came up at all, and for plenty of Gen Zers D&D comes up all the time at school (as noted above, more Middle Schoolers currently play the game than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers combined).
Thanks for saying this. I have to say, this idea that D&D was common language back in the 80's certainly wasn't my experience. Outside of my geeky friends, no one had the slightest idea what a role playing game was, let alone what Dungeons and Dragons meant.

Good grief, I left my DMG out on my desk at my work the other day, and my student, a 45 year old Japanese dude, knew exactly what it was. THAT'S how much market penetration we're talking about now.
 

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dave2008

Legend
To the original posters question: Are we at peak D&D or are we anywhere near what was happening in the late seventies and early eighties?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer:
While the sales totals may be bigger, the total number of people impacted is not. Go to a school and find out how often D&D comes up in conversation. If it's not all the time, then you don't have 80's penetration.
What? I was in middle and high school in the 80s. Outside my playing group no one talked about D&D. It was not a conversation at all. The only time it did come up outside of our friend group had solely to do with satanic panic hysteria.

What Shangri-La did you live in where D&D was a common topic of conversation in mid-high school?
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
What? I was in middle and high school in the 80s. Outside my playing group no one talked about D&D. It was not a conversation at all. The only time it did come up outside of our friend group had solely to do with satanic panic hysteria.

What Shangri-La did you live in where D&D was a common topic of conversation in mid-high school?

I think it might depend on when during the 80s. The very early 80s (79-82, for example) tended to be different than the later 80s (86 on) because of the boom/bust fad/cool nature of it.

In the early 80s, I recall that area schools had clubs for the kids to play D&D. That the regular book fairs would sell D&D modules along with the usual scholastic books. That it was common for various groups (yes, it was boys, and usually not the jocks) to play.

It was so common, in fact, that today people of that specific age bracket know of it commonly- if they didn't play it themselves, they knew people who did play it.

It didn't disappear in the later 80s, but it became much less common in popular culture. It would be, to borrow an analogy, like Rubik's Cubes- still around, still beloved by some, just consigned to a less popular place.

(EDIT- that said, I can certainly understand that there were geographical difference; before the internet, there was a lot less homogeneity in the US, and I would not be surprised if your experience was different)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think it might depend on when during the 80s. The very early 80s (79-82, for example) tended to be different than the later 80s (86 on) because of the boom/bust fad/cool nature of it.

In the early 80s, I recall that area schools had clubs for the kids to play D&D. That the regular book fairs would sell D&D modules along with the usual scholastic books. That it was common for various groups (yes, it was boys, and usually not the jocks) to play.

It was so common, in fact, that today people of that specific age bracket know of it commonly- if they didn't play it themselves, they knew people who did play it.

It didn't disappear in the later 80s, but it became much less common in popular culture. It would be, to borrow an analogy, like Rubik's Cubes- still around, still beloved by some, just consigned to a less popular place.

(EDIT- that said, I can certainly understand that there were geographical difference; before the internet, there was a lot less homogeneity in the US, and I would not be surprised if your experience was different)
Sounds like you are describing the situation of D&D in the 20's, albeit now with more girls playing, too.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Sounds like you are describing the situation of D&D in the 20's, albeit now with more girls playing, too.

I think so! I would say that it is more popular now (because of all sorts of reasons, from the rise of equality and inclusion that allows for a larger player base to the increased acceptance of what was formerly "nerd culture" to the prevalence of streaming platforms and social media to the ability to "niche" interests to connect over the internet and leverage those passions to widespread acceptance), but one thing history inevitably teaches you is that you moment in the sun almost always goes away.

The sad truth of age is that you don't lose money in the aggregate betting against things. :(
 

dave2008

Legend
I think it might depend on when during the 80s. The very early 80s (79-82, for example) tended to be different than the later 80s (86 on) because of the boom/bust fad/cool nature of it.

In the early 80s, I recall that area schools had clubs for the kids to play D&D. That the regular book fairs would sell D&D modules along with the usual scholastic books. That it was common for various groups (yes, it was boys, and usually not the jocks) to play.

It was so common, in fact, that today people of that specific age bracket know of it commonly- if they didn't play it themselves, they knew people who did play it.

It didn't disappear in the later 80s, but it became much less common in popular culture. It would be, to borrow an analogy, like Rubik's Cubes- still around, still beloved by some, just consigned to a less popular place.

(EDIT- that said, I can certainly understand that there were geographical difference; before the internet, there was a lot less homogeneity in the US, and I would not be surprised if your experience was different)
Yay, that was definitely not my experience. But time and place (midwest USA) matter. I was familiar with D&D in the early 80s picked up miniatures, dragon mag, and the Monster Manual and Deities and Demigods at the local Hobby store. But I didn't know anyone who played until I got a group together in the mid 80s.
 

We shouldn't forget the potential of the international market. D&D is known thanks the videogames, but it is not as famous as other Hasbro's franchises, for example Transformers. Critical Role has helped very much, but that in the English-speaker market. (OMG! I don't want to imagine a game-live show with Latin Spanish-Speakers!!).

Of course WotC may make mistakes, but everybody share that risk.

Could D&D become "old-fashioned"? It is possible if there is a saturation, but WotC can avoid this with new settings enough original.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
I think it might depend on when during the 80s. The very early 80s (79-82, for example) tended to be different than the later 80s (86 on) because of the boom/bust fad/cool nature of it.

In the early 80s, I recall that area schools had clubs for the kids to play D&D. That the regular book fairs would sell D&D modules along with the usual scholastic books. That it was common for various groups (yes, it was boys, and usually not the jocks) to play.

It was so common, in fact, that today people of that specific age bracket know of it commonly- if they didn't play it themselves, they knew people who did play it.

It didn't disappear in the later 80s, but it became much less common in popular culture. It would be, to borrow an analogy, like Rubik's Cubes- still around, still beloved by some, just consigned to a less popular place.

(EDIT- that said, I can certainly understand that there were geographical difference; before the internet, there was a lot less homogeneity in the US, and I would not be surprised if your experience was different)
Yes I was out of high school in 1986 so my experience is early 80's. I doubt there are many people of that generation that don't remember people playing it.

Also in those days, this was prior to the 2e glut post Gygax, every single book that came out was a rare and exciting event. Four books a year would be laughably bounteous.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
I think so! I would say that it is more popular now (because of all sorts of reasons, from the rise of equality and inclusion that allows for a larger player base to the increased acceptance of what was formerly "nerd culture" to the prevalence of streaming platforms and social media to the ability to "niche" interests to connect over the internet and leverage those passions to widespread acceptance), but one thing history inevitably teaches you is that you moment in the sun almost always goes away.

The sad truth of age is that you don't lose money in the aggregate betting against things. :(
Here is a way to look at it.

In 1982, no one at the age I am at right now was playing D&D. I have vastly more disposable income right now than I did in 1982. I cleared snow covered driveways in the late 70's at 2 dollars a driveway if that tells you anything. So the spread across the age range has definitely expanded and that is pretty true whatever the edition. The younger crowd joins up and the older crowd continues. We haven't yet reached the point where the early players are dying of old age. That will of course stabilize the in and the out.

Now having said that, I believe in the USA and adjusting for population, that the new group in the early 80's and probably in some areas even the late 70's, was larger and the game more widely known across people in that age group. I'd venture to say that you'd have a hard time getting fifty people out of my four hundred graduating class that hadn't heard of the game. I'm guess a 100 at least played it. And I lived in a rural area that was behind the times on most anything.

So that brand new group of middle/high school kids was bigger then than it ever has been. What we have now though is we have a lot larger age range of people who play the game. And those other age ranges have more money. And even that younger age range probably is given more money than we got as kids from our parents. I mean I'm a grandpa so that band has expanded.
 


Oofta

Legend
We shouldn't forget the potential of the international market. D&D is known thanks the videogames, but it is not as famous as other Hasbro's franchises, for example Transformers. Critical Role has helped very much, but that in the English-speaker market. (OMG! I don't want to imagine a game-live show with Latin Spanish-Speakers!!).

Of course WotC may make mistakes, but everybody share that risk.

Could D&D become "old-fashioned"? It is possible if there is a saturation, but WotC can avoid this with new settings enough original.
I think it would be awesome to have new campaign books written by and for different nationalities and then translated back to English. Imagine a MM written for southeast Asia, incorporating some of the weird monsters D&D has always had but including cosmology and monsters from their heritage? What would we have instead of demons and devils? What kind of awesome takes on ghosts and vampires could they have?

Hard to say if it would sell though, there is a possibility of backlash no matter how carefully done.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Here is a way to look at it.

In 1982, no one at the age I am at right now was playing D&D. I have vastly more disposable income right now than I did in 1982. I cleared snow covered driveways in the late 70's at 2 dollars a driveway if that tells you anything. So the spread across the age range has definitely expanded and that is pretty true whatever the edition. The younger crowd joins up and the older crowd continues. We haven't yet reached the point where the early players are dying of old age. That will of course stabilize the in and the out.

Now having said that, I believe in the USA and adjusting for population, that the new group in the early 80's and probably in some areas even the late 70's, was larger and the game more widely known across people in that age group. I'd venture to say that you'd have a hard time getting fifty people out of my four hundred graduating class that hadn't heard of the game. I'm guess a 100 at least played it. And I lived in a rural area that was behind the times on most anything.

So that brand new group of middle/high school kids was bigger then than it ever has been. What we have now though is we have a lot larger age range of people who play the game. And those other age ranges have more money. And even that younger age range probably is given more money than we got as kids from our parents. I mean I'm a grandpa so that band has expanded.
Yeah, that may have been your experience in one rural environment, buy that does not match with other known accounts of the same time period. The plural of anecdote is not data, but neither is it the singular.
 


Emerikol

Adventurer
Yeah, that may have been your experience in one rural environment, buy that does not match with other known accounts of the same time period. The plural of anecdote is not data, but neither is it the singular.
Anecdotes are anecdotes and so are yours. I do remember it being pretty big in the popular culture at the time as well. I'm alive today and I was alive then and it definitely seems different to me. I'm not sure what test we could run to figure out the truth of the matter. I'd wager a small amount like 100.00 that I am right but not a fortune.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Anecdotes are anecdotes and so are yours. I do remember it being pretty big in the popular culture at the time as well. I'm alive today and I was alive then and it definitely seems different to me. I'm not sure what test we could run to figure out the truth of the matter. I'd wager a small amount like 100.00 that I am right but not a fortune.
I will admit, I wasn't alive at the time...but hearing from others who were paints a different picture of D&D in the overall popular culture in that time period.

Now, in the 20's, my viewpoint is that of a parent seeing all of the children's D&D material in places such as the public library or Target, or local game stores running multiple kids-only groups due to demand, and the statistics which WotC has shared.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
Yeah, that may have been your experience in one rural environment, buy that does not match with other known accounts of the same time period. The plural of anecdote is not data, but neither is it the singular.
That and talking to other people in other places who lived through the same time as me. I'm surprised your experience is different. I wonder where you lived during that time. D&D was a cultural phenomena at that time and it hasn't really been since.
 

darjr

I crit!
My youngest son started a game club at his high school, they had three DMs ready to go. They had to turn away a dozen or more and each table was ten people. Nearly the same population size high school as when I was there and the “clicks” of people ran the gamut.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
That and talking to other people in other places who lived through the same time as me. I'm surprised your experience is different. I wonder where you lived during that time. D&D was a cultural phenomena at that time and it hasn't really been since.
As previously stated, I wasn't alive (born in '85, started D&D around the messy transition to 3.5, though my groups were half-Reformed, at best). However, I do listen to others.

D&D was a phenomenon at the time, but it is more of a mainstream phenomenon now, with D&D streams drawing millions of viewers, and D&D in schools all over.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
As previously stated, I wasn't alive (born in '85, started D&D around the messy transition to 3.5, though my groups were half-Reformed, at best). However, I do listen to others.

D&D was a phenomenon at the time, but it is more of a mainstream phenomenon now, with D&D streams drawing millions of viewers, and D&D in schools all over.
I think on this one we will just have to agree to disagree.
 

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