D&D 5E Long time players and 5e’s success

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
The reality is that the older players suffered constant abuse from the wider public for being "abnormal." This meant that there was always a comradery within the culture even if you shared radically different world views. No matter what you believed, you shared a common bond.
I think this point needs to be echoed and generally shouted to the rooftops. When I was growing up, gaming, and being a nerd in general was something you were laughed at about. A friend of mine was literally hung up in his locker at school. That wasn't a gag on TV, it actually happened. I had to pull him down. Beyond that, gaming was (and still is) a repository for people who didn't fit in. If there was one thing I could go back in time and tell myself about my gaming friends growing up, it would be that so many of them weren't "weird", they were on the spectrum. We didn't know what that meant back then.

So we got together and played D&D. We had people of various social skills together, but the fact that we were different made us sort of brothers and sisters.

And it's not that way now. Gaming is much closer to being cool. And the big problem I have with it now is that the people who are on the spectrum, who still are drawn to RPGs, who were welcomed to gaming when I was growing up, aren't anymore. Gaming is still the place where people on the borders go. But it's also the place where cool and hip people go. And that's great. What's not great is that if you're a cool and mainstream person, you now can try to gatekeep and get those people out of the hobby.

And no, I'm certainly not saying this is a universal thing by any means, but it happens. The "creepy" kid or adult playing in a game at a Con or a game store gets bounced. I've seen it happen many times. Yes, I gamed with people who I wouldn't want to be friends with, but they were just doing the best that they could, and gaming with people is something that can help them improve social skills and reduce anxiety. It's good to remember that. If you have a child on the spectrum (and I do) there's a saying "kids do the best that they can, until they can't for a moment."

I think Belen's idea that the role of older gamers has changed over the lifespan of 5E is correct. Us Gen Xers were the people keeping the light on during the early part of the 5E era. We're also the people who still buy expensive boxed sets, (only to complain about them). And, naturally, WotC is changing the focus of the game for new people. I'm flippin' old! The kind of game of D&D that most people my age want to play is very different than what most kids in high school are looking for. They are going to be the future.

But at the same time, if you make a game that I'm less interested in, I'm not going to be positive about it. Most of the time I'm going to say nothing, but I will pipe up from time to time. And if you're one to say "Quiet, gramps! You just don't get it," I'll refer you to what Grampa Simpson said about "it" and say that it will happen to you too. When 7E or 8E comes along, you'll see.
 

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I think this point needs to be echoed and generally shouted to the rooftops. When I was growing up, gaming, and being a nerd in general was something you were laughed at about. A friend of mine was literally hung up in his locker at school. That wasn't a gag on TV, it actually happened. I had to pull him down. Beyond that, gaming was (and still is) a repository for people who didn't fit in. If there was one thing I could go back in time and tell myself about my gaming friends growing up, it would be that so many of them weren't "weird", they were on the spectrum. We didn't know what that meant back then.

So we got together and played D&D. We had people of various social skills together, but the fact that we were different made us sort of brothers and sisters.

And it's not that way now. Gaming is much closer to being cool. And the big problem I have with it now is that the people who are on the spectrum, who still are drawn to RPGs, who were welcomed to gaming when I was growing up, aren't anymore. Gaming is still the place where people on the borders go. But it's also the place where cool and hip people go. And that's great. What's not great is that if you're a cool and mainstream person, you now can try to gatekeep and get those people out of the hobby.

And no, I'm certainly not saying this is a universal thing by any means, but it happens. The "creepy" kid or adult playing in a game at a Con or a game store gets bounced. I've seen it happen many times. Yes, I gamed with people who I wouldn't want to be friends with, but they were just doing the best that they could, and gaming with people is something that can help them improve social skills and reduce anxiety. It's good to remember that. If you have a child on the spectrum (and I do) there's a saying "kids do the best that they can, until they can't for a moment."

I think Belen's idea that the role of older gamers has changed over the lifespan of 5E is correct. Us Gen Xers were the people keeping the light on during the early part of the 5E era. We're also the people who still buy expensive boxed sets, (only to complain about them). And, naturally, WotC is changing the focus of the game for new people. I'm flippin' old! The kind of game of D&D that most people my age want to play is very different than what most kids in high school are looking for. They are going to be the future.

But at the same time, if you make a game that I'm less interested in, I'm not going to be positive about it. Most of the time I'm going to say nothing, but I will pipe up from time to time. And if you're one to say "Quiet, gramps! You just don't get it," I'll refer you to what Grampa Simpson said about "it" and say that it will happen to you too. When 7E or 8E comes along, you'll see.
Unsurprisingly one of my favorite lines from the show. Often what is "it" does indeed seem weird and scary to me.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
Unsurprisingly one of my favorite lines from the show. Often what is "it" does indeed seem weird and scary to me.
One of my favorite things is to see my older Millenial friends having this experience. I show them that clip from the show and say "just wait, Gen Z will be doing this as time goes by."
 

Meech17

WotC President Runner-Up.
But at the same time, if you make a game that I'm less interested in, I'm not going to be positive about it. Most of the time I'm going to say nothing, but I will pipe up from time to time. And if you're one to say "Quiet, gramps! You just don't get it," I'll refer you to what Grampa Simpson said about "it" and say that it will happen to you too. When 7E or 8E comes along, you'll see.
I can't speak for all younger gamers, as we're not a monolith.. But I know that myself, and many others understand this. We're at a point where trust in companies is incredibly low. We know they won't be making stuff for us forever.. If they can make more money by abandoning us for the next demographic, we know that they will drop us in a heart beat.

So perhaps we are too insensitive when we yell "Quiet Gramps!" But it's only because we're trying to enjoy the thing in the moment. It's good now, and we know it won't be forever. Nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy.
 

Warpiglet-7

Satan’s Echo Chamber! Muhahahaha
I really don’t think it reasonable for them to tailor the game to only long time players. Not even an expectation.

However, they have thrown a bone here and there and it is good enough for me.

I am reacting to mostly commentary here and elsewhere that suggests longer term players “don’t matter” for the company and that as a result, their opinion is not pertinent.

I call bullsh*t on that.

I think longer term players invest much more per capita that average. Pending real data, it is what I have witnessed for ages.

Additionally, I call BS that grogs and others are so far out in their needs that their preferences would make a bad/unpopular game. Seems to be objectively false at this point.

Lastly the idea that long term players are rigid to the point of oblivion is also not my sample. A lot of us absolutely accommodate our audience gracefully where wanted/needed.

The broad brush stokes and “quiet gramps” gets absurd. We made the most popular edition of the game.
 

bloodtide

Legend
I feel for you older players who feel disenfranchised. Like Belen who had to struggle in an era where where you'd get bullied for liking D&D.
Sadly this was a big thing.

As a kid, we sure could not play D&D in public at school, the rec center or the library. You were sure to attract a pack of hate filled bullies and hecklers and just bad people. We had our game in a barn back behind my yard(it was not our barn and not on our land). Just in case a random non gamer stopped over the house, as they might tell on us. We had lots of empty giant cable spools, and we rolled a big six foot one back to the bard to be a table. We had to run like seven outdoor extension cords back to the barn to have a light.....a beer ball light(er, for some reason back in the day, they sold beer in large plastic balls (?!). You cut a hole in it and drank the beer. Then afterwards put a socket and light bulb in it to make a hanging light.) Most people who heard us talk about Zargon and the Lost City thought it was a rip off Indiana Jones movie....

As a Freshman, I remember the day when one of the cool (senior) jock football stars came to me and asked me if I'd run a game. Of course, I told him I don't play whatever that 'dragon game' is....but he had good sources. He played in a D&D game himself...all jocks....they all worked at a Taco Bell and played after they closed(and back in the Time Before Time Taco Bell closed at 9pm). They had a DM, Dave, who was not every good....he just did Alphabet Dungeons, walk into a room, pick a letter, fight a monster with that letter. He had heard about Zargon.....so, a week later I was running a game for six jocks late at night, at a closed Taco Bell, sending them through the Lost City.

A little while after that....I met my first girl gamer. She was a friend of my sister...one day she came over with a huge rant as her brother would not let her play in his D&D game. I just said "oh". A couple minutes later, she walked by my room and spotted all the D&D stuff inside and she asked if she could join my game. I did not have a game at that time...so she went out and found two other girl gamers and two other guys and we formed a group....still playing in the barn.

A bit after this.....and I was approached by a popular cheerleader....with the all too common story. She and her girl friends loved D&D...but no guys would ever let them join their group...odd they would say no to the pretty cheerleaders, but they did. They loved She-Ra and Jem...so they were a group of illusionist pegataurs (that's half girl centaur and half pegisus). After a while one of the other girls took over as DM for an Aliens RPG game....a group of female space marines....and me, as the synthoid robot.
 

GrimCo

Adventurer
It's fascinating to read these few posts from outsider perspective. I grew up in Croatia, good old Balkans. Land of chaos and insanity. My HS years were in early to mid 2000s.

Yes, D&D did attract fair number of geek guys who were into stem hs and also crowd from art hs. But most of people i played with were also into heavy/thrash/power metal, playing music, partying, had decent sucess with girls.

Other very popular rpg at the time, and my first ever, was V:tM. Goth/black/doom metal crowd mostly and decent amount of goth girls played it.

We never had that jock/geek stuff. There was divide by subcultures ( punks, skins, metalheads, football ultras, golden youth etc) but if you were hanging out in the hood, you would probably be ok with everyone. It wasnt uncomon to see metalhead, casual and skinhead chilling together at the park bench sharing booze.

No one gave a flying f if you had geeky hobies.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
See, here's the thing. Being bullied for liking D&D back in the 1980s doesn't give you a pass on how you behave now, particularly when it comes to inclusiveness and other forms of problematic behavior. Guys like Ernie Gygax got themselves into the public doghouse by saying stupid, transphobic things and then digging in even when friends and family tried to intervene and talk him down. People who do that get what they deserve because otherwise they'd serve as gatekeepers pushing even more vulnerable people than themselves away from the hobby.

I've been playing since 1981 and the hobby is far and away a lot more inclusive than it was when I started. There are many more women, many more ethnic minorities, and many more LGBTQ+ people than when it was mostly us white nerdboys. And they deserve the protection a strong push toward inclusiveness gives them even if it makes certain members of more privileged older generations uncomfortable. That's why I wear my rainbow logo Gamehole Con t-shirt (and support Alex to the fullest as he maintains a strongly inclusive convention). And if anybody has a problem with that or any of the queer kids playing at my table (or women, or minorities, etc), they had better dummy up about it while sitting in my game and behave themselves. Because if I catch one word about it, out they go with the rest of the trash.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
See, here's the thing. Being bullied for liking D&D back in the 1980s doesn't give you a pass on how you behave now, particularly when it comes to inclusiveness and other forms of problematic behavior.
I don't think anyone is making that argument. The gaming community has always been the most inclusive community I've ever seen. I think there's only good things that come from getting more people into gaming.

What I have seen is that a lot of the socially awkward (and what we now know are neurodivergent) people who fit right into gaming in the 70s somehow aren't as welcome now. And a lot of that is because they're socially awkward and just don't understand complex social issues. That's very difficult to deal with--and I know this because I've been at that table at a store of Con many times. They don't have the skills to deal with them, and gaming with polite and patient people who set boundaries helps them to grow. And while it's not our job as gamers to do that, I would argue it's part and parcel with being a good human.

I also go to Gamehole Con and welcome the atmosphere it has. And I'd be right there with you to bounce someone who isn't welcoming. But there is a huge difference between a gamer who isn't welcoming and is being a jerk, and someone who might be very awkward but that's due to neurological issues. One's a choice, and the other is something the person is going to have to learn skills to deal with over their entire life.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
I don't think anyone is making that argument. The gaming community has always been the most inclusive community I've ever seen. I think there's only good things that come from getting more people into gaming.

What I have seen is that a lot of the socially awkward (and what we now know are neurodivergent) people who fit right into gaming in the 70s somehow aren't as welcome now. And a lot of that is because they're socially awkward and just don't understand complex social issues. That's very difficult to deal with--and I know this because I've been at that table at a store of Con many times. They don't have the skills to deal with them, and gaming with polite and patient people who set boundaries helps them to grow. And while it's not our job as gamers to do that, I would argue it's part and parcel with being a good human.

I also go to Gamehole Con and welcome the atmosphere it has. And I'd be right there with you to bounce someone who isn't welcoming. But there is a huge difference between a gamer who isn't welcoming and is being a jerk, and someone who might be very awkward but that's due to neurological issues. One's a choice, and the other is something the person is going to have to learn skills to deal with over their entire life.
Oh, I think that argument is coming up more than you realize in this thread and others recently.

But I do agree that neurodivergence (or neurodiversities in general) needs to be approached inclusively as well. So I'm prepared to give some leeway if someone appears to be having good-faith trouble with the boundaries.
 

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