D&D (2024) So what happened to the new and classic campaign settings? (and what's next?)

GrimCo

Adventurer
As far as i'm aware, gen Y is just another name for Millennials. It's just that millennials stuck as common term. There are micro-generations (like xenials and zenials and whatever z/alpha), but those are just people born at the tail end of one and begging of other.

Targeting younger audience sounds cool in corpo lingo, but, as you said, they know what demographic is prime customer and most of products are aimed at them.
 

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As far as i'm aware, gen Y is just another name for Millennials. It's just that millennials stuck as common term. There are micro-generations (like xenials and zenials and whatever z/alpha), but those are just people born at the tail end of one and begging of other.

Targeting younger audience sounds cool in corpo lingo, but, as you said, they know what demographic is prime customer and most of products are aimed at them.
That's what you'll see now, but back in the late 90s, the Millennials and Gen Y were routinely referred to as separate generations. I was in a marketing class for my MBA at the time, so I can confirm by personal experience. Nowadays what they do is call them all Millennials, but if you scratch the surface, they'll admit that they had to split it into an older and a younger half that have completely different experience and customer preferences. The whole thing is really bizarre. I'm not personally offended by the change; I'm a Gen-Xer by any definition, but it does kind of torque me off just a bit that Generation Jones and Generation Y were disappeared entirely so that marketing niches could be dumbed down. Joneses aren't just young Boomers or old Xers, and Gen Y isn't at all the same as the Millennials that followed them.

That's exactly why the names exist. Gen Y was the generation that followed Gen X, and Millennials were the generation that was born right around the turn of the Millennium, more or less. Talking about Millennials who were already teenagers at the turn of the Millennium would make the label nonsensical.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm a little confused, although it's not your fault. There used to be a cohort in between Generation X and Millennials called Generation Y, and they were significantly different than either of the generations on the border. For reasons that were never clear to me, the Powers That Be in marketing starting pretending like they didn't exist, put some of them as the youngest newly minted Gen Xers and the rest as an older half of Millennials that aren't really anything like the rest of Millennials. (Although they also split "Millennials" into Y.1 and Y.2 to represent this obvious and substantive difference; which is stupid as all get-out since using the older labels of Gen Y and Millennials already accomplished that task quite well.) It sounds like what you're describing are "disappeared" Generation Y, and I would suspect that that's a much bigger cohort than Generation Z, for various reasons, including, as you point out, the fact that they have a lot of disposable income. And as I said, the graph lists supposed players, not customers; and I question where they got data from 8 year olds in the first place. But whatever.

I didn't look very carefully at the chart until just now, and it's got major problems. As you say, Gen Z is mislabeled; a bunch of Alphas are included, making it look larger than it really is. Also, Millennials, especially if you consider both generations within the Millennial "generation" are in fact significantly larger. And Gen Xers and older literally aren't even graphed, as if we somehow don't even exist.

This isn't a true pie chart, it's just some kind of interpretive graphic for data that is clearly egregiously wrong. I know this is starting to sound a little conspiracy theoryish, but this Narrative that Gen Z is this big cohort, but oh, we're actually going to count Gen Z wrong, just not label Millennials and hope you don't notice it, and somehow "lose" the data entirely for any players who are Gen X, Generation Jones or any Baby Boomers who may still be playing (I'm sure there's some) and hope you don't notice that we're pretending nobody over 45 plays D&D at all.

Suddenly the disconnect between why WotC is saying that they're targeting Gen Z for their products, but acting like they're targeting Gen Y and Gen X at least as much so starts to make more sense. There's a whole cohort of players that they're literally not even showing us and not talking about. I know in C suite lingo, targeting the younger crowd is sexier than targeting people who are established in their careers and preferences but who have much of the disposable income is what management wants to hear, but fudging the data on who your player base actually is, which it is more and more apparent that they are doing, is starting to look pretty shady.
A few points to start: these are numbers for 2019, ao those younger kids are Zoomers, not Alpha. Greg Tito clarified on Twitter at the time that "40-45" should have read "40+", so that the entire population of players over 40, whether Boomer or Gen Xer would be about the same size as the younger Zoomer teen groups.

They released numbers the next year, for 2020:

dungeons-and-dragons-2021-infographic-1 (2).jpg


But more recently, WotC shared details updated to 2023:

  • 60% of D&D players are male, 39% are female, and 1% identify otherwise
  • 60% are “hybrid” players, who switch between playing the game physically or online
  • 58% play D&D on a weekly basis
  • 48% identify as millennials, 19% from Generation X and 33% from Generation Z
  • The majority of current D&D players started with 5th Edition

 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
That's what you'll see now, but back in the late 90s, the Millennials and Gen Y were routinely referred to as separate generations. I was in a marketing class for my MBA at the time, so I can confirm by personal experience. Nowadays what they do is call them all Millennials, but if you scratch the surface, they'll admit that they had to split it into an older and a younger half that have completely different experience and customer preferences. The whole thing is really bizarre. I'm not personally offended by the change; I'm a Gen-Xer by any definition, but it does kind of torque me off just a bit that Generation Jones and Generation Y were disappeared entirely so that marketing niches could be dumbed down. Joneses aren't just young Boomers or old Xers, and Gen Y isn't at all the same as the Millennials that followed them.

That's exactly why the names exist. Gen Y was the generation that followed Gen X, and Millennials were the generation that was born right around the turn of the Millennium, more or less. Talking about Millennials who were already teenagers at the turn of the Millennium would make the label nonsensical.
I have never heard of Gen Jones before, but it makes some sense. Frankly, 20 years is a long time to consider people part of the same generation.
 



Reynard

Legend
Supporter
that is about the time a generation takes from a biological perspective ;)
My mom was 15 when she had my oldest brother, and 18 when she had me (the youngest). It's ridiculous on its face that we could be part of the "same generation."
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
My mom was 15 when she had my oldest brother, and 18 when she had me (the youngest). It's ridiculous on its face that we could be part of the "same generation."
None of the "generation" concepts make any sense in terms of being an actual category of aggregation. I'm born in '78, so I'm part of "Gen X" (at least according to Pew), but it's nonsensical to think I have more in common with a Gen Xer born in '67 than I do with a Millennial born in '82.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
None of the "generation" concepts make any sense in terms of being an actual category of aggregation. I'm born in '78, so I'm part of "Gen X" (at least according to Pew), but it's nonsensical to think I have more in common with a Gen Xer born in '67 than I do with a Millennial born in '82.
Honestly we should just base it on what cartoons we watched between the ages of 8 and 14.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
An incomplete list:
  • Fantasy today is often cozier and lower-stakes. Characters are more likely to want to open a coffee shop than build their own castle in the wilderness.
  • Resorting to violence is what the villains do, not the heroes.
  • It often looks like fantasy Asia, but it almost certainly doesn't look like fantasy Europe.
  • It is diverse by default. And that's much more than classic D&D cantina diversity. Lots of people of color, including people coded as mixed-race. There will be people from across the LGBTQIA spectrum. There will be disabled people. None of this will seem weird or objectionable to residents of the world except, again, for the villains.
  • Magi-tech will be common.
  • Environmental issues may play a big part in the setting. Good characters will be aware of the impact intelligent beings have on their environment and will be expected to not wantonly despoil.
WotC has tried a lot of these elements in isolation, and Baby Boomers and Gen Xers on this board have often howled with outrage. (Not WotC, but look up how people responded to the very notion of miniatures of characters in wheelchairs.) I can only imagine how they'd respond to a setting with all of them.

But the statistics don't lie: The audience is overwhelmingly Gen Z. Putting out settings to make the tiny Gen X audience happy instead of focusing on Gen Z is an insane business practice.
I hope I wasn't phrasing this as "everyone in Gen Z likes this kind of fantasy, and nothing else." I was answering the question of "has fantasy actually changed in the past decade." Look through fantasy bestseller charts and you will see lots of new authors' names -- many of them women and POC -- writing about things like "a retired half-orc adventurer and her best friend open a coffee shop."

Gen Z folks can and do love more traditional styles of fantasy, but the rising tide of cozy fantasy -- which certainly owes a debt to Mercedes Lackey and other romantic fantasy (which is not the same as romance fiction, it should be noted; fiction genres are weird), as well as Tumblr -- is a new thing in the past decade and is largely read by younger readers.

If you are a Gen Z reader who likes other forms of fantasy fiction, I did not intend to erase you or try to tell you what you or your generation should be reading. This was a purely reactive post, based on watching this interesting new wave of fantasy climb the bestseller charts, along with what's in fantasy TV shows.
 
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