Comic-book Author Jim Zub On D&D's Surge In Recent Years

Jim Zub, writer of comics including Marvel's Avenger's, IDW's Dungeons & Dragons, and more, shared his thoughts on why D&D has surged so much in the last few years.

Jim Zub, writer of comics including Marvel's Avenger's, IDW's Dungeons & Dragons, and more, shared his thoughts on why D&D has surged so much in the last few years.


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"This is a constant conversation I've been having with friends and industry people since D&D 5th Edition launched.

Why has #DnD surged so much in the past few years and what ingredients came together to encourage this upswing in visibility and enthusiasm?

In no particular order:

- A young audience hungry for unique experiences and looking for personalized entertainment. Tabletop RPGs like #DnD are infinity customizable and don't have to be expensive.

- The game can be dramatic and nuanced, or slapstick-silly. Strategic with minis and grids or highly narrative. You can play with kids or get a group of adults together and be raunchy and "inappropriate". All with the same basic framework and rules.

- In a world that blasts us with a lot of one-way passive entertainment, you get to directly engage with other people and make something. Everyone gets to contribute. Everyone can take ownership of this entertainment. It's yours.

- Want to explore a part of your personality you always wish you had? Want to be more decisive, courageous, faithful, sexy, commanding, etc.? Try it. Make a character and try it in a safe way.

For a lot of young players, #DnD is literally a safe space for their dreams.

- #DnD can be student budget cheap to play (paper, pencil, dice) or high-powered executive expensive (limited edition everything, minis and terrain, costumes, you name it). It scales incredibly well with whatever your group has access to.
D&D is tailor-made for a young and creative generation that wants unique entertainment experiences.

#DnD also has an older generation that's highly nostalgic for their own empowering days of yore. Many of them are old enough to have kids who are ready to start playing.

The original fans were the easiest bring back in, and #DnD 5th Edition did a masterful job of convincing the existing fan base that they cared about the old stuff while they updated, organized and strengthened the rules.

The elusive audience was that new one. The barrier was presentation and instruction.

How to show new players how the game worked and get them enthusiastic to try it out? How to share the best version of the experience with people to get them engaged?

Back in the day, you'd be lucky if you had one shot at showing someone #DnD. If the Dungeon Master was a jerk and they didn't make you feel welcome, most people would back away and never come back. The first impression was everything.

The unexpected ingredient is the playcasts - Youtube and Twitch.

Now you get to enjoy a really entertaining game and see how the game works at your own pace. You see people enjoy the hell out of it. They're engaged and you want to be a part of something joyous like that.

YouTube and Twtch democratized the process. Anyone can watch and learn and start their own game. No more gate keeping. If you watch @CriticalRole and then play and the game sucks, you know what a good game can be, so you keep searching to find a better DM/group or make your own.

At the same time, you have a generation of nostalgic gamers who are now in creative positions and they're putting more #DnD into our much nerdier pop culture-laden world: Stranger Things, Big Bang Theory, Community, Stephen Colbert and so many more.

The confluence of those 4 major factors:
- Nostalgic older players, many with kids.
- New young players who want to customize their entertainment and make things.
- Playcasts breaking gate keeping.
- Celebrity gamers increasing visibility and breaking the cliches of who games.

How many times in your day-to-day life do you get to feel empowered?

What if you could spend quality time with friends, collaborating on something unique and special?

#DnD is sports team camaraderie (dice/stats/winning) with the creativity of a drama club (story/character).

When I was 8-years old, my 12-year old brother and I muddled our way through 1st edition D&D and we loved it. I played with my brother and our cousins and it ignited a creative fire in me that has never died down.

I'm a writer thanks to #DnD.

4-years apart is a lot at that age. I couldn't play sports or compete with them at video games, but in D&D I got my turn to say what I wanted to do and it was _everything_. I was one of the older boys. My rolls were as good as theirs (sometimes better).

If I came up with a great idea they didn't think of, or if I could make them laugh, that was the world to me. Improvisation, entertainment, character, story, and a big crazy dash of luck.

When my brother left for University, I started DMing/GMing D&D and all kinds of other RPGs. The rush of building worlds and entertaining my friends was the best feeling (and it still is).

Now, thanks to technology, people can have that same rush in the same room or by meeting up online, The tech has enabled the social aspects of D&D to flourish and grow exponentially. Reestablish games with old friends or find new groups anywhere.

Put all that together with a world not afraid of being nerdy, filled to the brim with people looking for escapism, joy, and empowerment and you have the perfect fuel to propel this modern #DnD revolution.

The [WotC D&D] crew are all incredibly passionate about everything I covered above.

#DnD as empowerment, as storytelling, as goofy fun, as an empathy engine...all of it.

They get it.

When the upswing happened, they recognized the shift and swiftly built on it.

The right game at the right time in the hands of the right people."
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As we say in our land: "Tiene más razón que un santo" (= "He is righter than a saint"). I take my hat off as sign of respect for these words.

I add now we are ver used to the speculative fiction, by the movies (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones) and the videogames (Warcraft).
 




BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
The confluence of those 4 major factors:
- Nostalgic older players, many with kids.
- New young players who want to customize their entertainment and make things.
- Playcasts breaking gate keeping.
- Celebrity gamers increasing visibility and breaking the cliches of who games.

I've definitely noticed the third point but never would had thought of the second. I'm not familiar with Jim Zub, I haven't really collected comic in the past 10 years, but I think he's hit on some very insightful things here.
 
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OB1

Jedi Master
The confluence of those four factors along with a system that is casual enough for once in a while gamers with busy lives and many other interests yet deep enough to keep those who play all the time interested. It’s such a fine line that 5e walks very well.
Awesome insight from Mr. Zub!
 

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