The Stigma of Role-Playing Must Die!

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As for playing table-top rpg games as an adult being socially unnexceptable, I think that generally it's strange for adults to be very active in gaming. Essentially, you're not allowed to have any fun once you reach a point. Of course, these games do get a bit more hate but that's because it involves your imagination which we all know adults are not allowed to have.

My friends and I just decided to start playing D&D. A few of us have previous experience (mine being a whopping 1 session) and I've been asked to DM. I have no problem reading up and trying it out.. but I don't think I count as the uninitiated... I visit the Escapist for one. For two, I consider myself a huge gamer.

Oh well. I guess it'll be the way we talk about it to others that sets the tone.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Let's put it this way:

Roleplayers aren't the bottom of the slide.

Below them are the LRPers, LARPers, Freeformers, Re-enactment, Cosplayers (And don't DARE get these lot mixed up), Furries, Monster Wannabees, Shinty players...

Maybe, but all those groups flaunt their hobbies fairly publicly and don't seem to care what anyone else thinks. I'll admit the LARP groups I've belonged to often said we were doing "interactive theatre", although that was more an attempt to explain what we were doing to laypersons rather than cover our geekiness.

scobie:

ReverseEngineered:
What role playing games need is a "gateway game".

Of the hundreds of role-playing systems out, I'm sure there must be a few "gateway games". I think the problem is more likely that the pastime is so dominated, both in the popular consciousness and in gamer circles, by the really popular games like D&D and . . . well, that's pretty much it . . . that less known games hardly get a look in.

I think I might know of such a "gateway game" - Paranoia, which I mentioned in my earlier post.

I used to think the original Star Wars RPG from West End Games was the perfect gateway game. The setting was a hugely popular media franchise almost everybody's at least somewhat familiar with. The rules were simple but appropriate to the feel of Star Wars. The only dice you needed were six-siders, which any newbie could grab from their Risk or Yahtzee game. And the Gamemaster section basically told you to steal from the movies if all else failed.

On the respectability issue: I don't really think the 80s moral panic is still an issue. I mean, heavy metal had its own moral panic at about the same time, and it's practically chic now. I've also met evangelical Christians and Mormons who roleplay--even vampire LARPers.

A lot of fellow D&Ders I know got into the hobby through epic fantasy novels. For over 40 years, hundreds of authors wrote thousands of novels built on Tolkien's basic blueprint. D&D was patterned off that formula. Over the last decade or so, the Tolkien-style fantasy epic has essentially died out, replaced by urban fantasy, paranormal romance, teen wizards, alternate history, steampunk, etc. It's been almost a decade since the Lord of the Rings movies as well, and few similar epic fantasy films have followed it. WoW is one of the few major media properties keeping Tolkien-esque sword & sorcery alive. You'll find few other epic fantasy settings these days featuring elves, dwarves, orcs, or even dragons.

Even if a potential TT player is into different genres, there's not many options for them. The latest incarnations of Star Wars and Star Trek RPGs fizzled out, and no other sci-fi property really has the mass appeal to sustain a player base. In horror, the games with the most longevity are Call of Cthulhu, which requires an appreciation for the plodding prose of Lovecraft, or the World of Darkness setting. The latter, I feel, is not appealing to potential future players in the right places. I'm talking about Twilight and True Blood fans. Maybe those aren't the greatest stories ever told, but a lot of us got into Vampire: the Masquerade because of Anne Rice's mediocre novels, so who are we to judge?

Ultimately, I think the hobby has several large barriers to access, including the need to have a social group willing to make the time investment (especially the GM), the expense of the rulebooks, and the often byzantine game mechanics involved.

There has only been one answer ever in this and that is to embrace the stigma.

Personally, I cannot tell there has been different levels of stigma from 1980 when I first started playing, through college in the 90's, to now. Far more than videogames, tabletop gaming is a bold and fearless proclamation of geekdom.

If you can't accept that, then I guess go hang out in a sports bar and see how fun that is.

Its amazing what people will think when you first say the words "Dungeons and Dragons"

Hey mom, I'm interested in DnD.
Honey, I don't want you to get into that sort of thing. Didn't you hear about the guy who went crazy and killed himself because of DnD?

Fortunately for me, my dad was a tabletop gamer, so I managed to get into it.

Well I will keep this extremely short.
Two main reasons that D&D are still looked on with such scorn is because of shit like this really exists.


Yes I am aware the audio is off, it is not my upload.

And also shit like this.
image

I swear, whoever thought of that needs a good kick in the head because even as a non D&D player I am insulted and feel soiled at having that sort of stupidity directed at me.
The concept itself is not bad, sure we could do without the ugly haired Z grade "porn stars" and maybe have some people of actual worth but honestly. That is possibly the worst and most insulting marketing I have ever come across.

PnP RPGs have some built-in disincentives to play:

1) They require a comfortable GM (who preferably knows the rules quite well, can be a good host, is objective and even-tempered, can tell a good story, is not shy, can do a little acting, can improvise, can listen to others' concerns, can adjudicate--already most people, let alone most gamers, fail).

2) It's very time intensive. You don't really get together for an hour--the way you can with a videogame. Generall 3+ hours are taken up, once a week--that's a big time commitment.

3) You can't have huge numbers play, and too few isn't as fun (for some, personally, I don't mind 1 on 1). Optimal number is 4-5 I think for most people.

4) Players are not easily replaced--not only can it take months to find a comfortable person to fill in, but they have to be worked into the story and brought up to speed somewhat with that particular campaign and whatever story has already happened.

In short, D&D takes dedication. That's not a bad thing per se, but given society's values, you can't expect it to be a fast-growing hobby.

I like to call this the Heroes of Newerth effect. The difference (and reason that this is worth fighting for) is that Dungeons and Dragons is fun.

mattag08:
Well there's your problem. Drop your liberal friends and get some libertarian friends (i.e. smart people). People act as if the moniker "liberal" immediately means open-minded when the reality is it's just closed-mindedness in a different way than "conservatives."

That sounds very closed minded of you.

Konrad Curze:

And also shit like this.
image

I have to agree with you on that, IMO i don't like how they record DnD sessions. its the same thing i have with larp, You can't make a judgement by watching a 5min clip of it on youtube you have to play it. *rant over*

Ah well, its a shame it isn't still viewed as Satanic. If it was i could go around scaring people with my Dmg.

0over0:

2) It's very time intensive. You don't really get together for an hour--the way you can with a videogame. Generall 3+ hours are taken up, once a week--that's a big time commitment.

How is it a big time commitment really?

You don't have poker nights with the guys?

You don't raid on WoW?

You don't watch Hockey/Basketball/Football/Soccer/whatever sport every week? Sporting event usually last 3 hours, often more if you count pre and aft shows.

Most people already invest 3hours+ a week to a given hobby.

One of my biggest personal issue with D&D (and other rpgs) being stuck with such a stigma is that to me, it's ultimately just something to do while I hang out with my long time friends. We play D&D, we talk about stuff, bitch about our lives and it's just a way to let loose and have some fun.

The same way a lot of people play poker every Friday night.

But somehow because we're sitting around a table with dices and books instead of chips and cards, we're weird.

Yet another interesting article on D&D. Man, now I'm wishing my old D&D games actually worked on my Laptop...

Incidentally, love the T-shirt. In NWN, you could turn PvP off, so that was basically my strategy. Sorcerors are awesome...

Tarkand:

0over0:

2) It's very time intensive. You don't really get together for an hour--the way you can with a videogame. Generall 3+ hours are taken up, once a week--that's a big time commitment.

How is it a big time commitment really?

You don't have poker nights with the guys?

You don't raid on WoW?

You don't watch Hockey/Basketball/Football/Soccer/whatever sport every week? Sporting event usually last 3 hours, often more if you count pre and aft shows.

Most people already invest 3hours+ a week to a given hobby.

I think the person it's a big time commitment for is the DM. And since a good DM is rare enough as it is, finding one who can devote a decent amount of time to planning and prep can be difficult. Also, getting all the books for D&D can be rather costly.

I'd love to play pen and paper DnD, but my anti-social behavior makes that hard. I used to know people who played, and expressed my interest, but I was never invited.

My problem with D&D has always been the complexity of it all. I was into the idea for a long time, I had one of my buddies helping me make a character, we start to go over stats and I'm like "yeah, ok" then he starts talking equipment and BAM, there are all sorts of "+5 longsword, with barrier of shining light (don't take it seriously, I can't even fathom what the hell he was talking about, let alone remember what he actually said) +2 chain mail of the beast, boots of ever quick" the list goes on and on, and then he starts telling me how I need to add this bonus to my roll when I do this, minus the enemies roll, times this modifier because of an ability and I'm thinking, "DAMN, I don't own a calculator" because that was A LOT OF GOD DAMNED MATH FOR ONE ROLL. He's like "don't worry, it gets easier" and I'm thinking 'the fuck it does, I can't multiply any number over five, let alone do it in my head' So I backed out. The point is, the game is, in general, really fucking complicated, it's impossible to just sit down and enjoy, it's a fuck ton of work to play and to get started. Hell, the game I was supposed to play was delayed for two months because one of the player backed out, then I quit then the whole thing fell apart.

@blakfayt - try and find a system with easier rules to learn. My favourite system (40k roleplay games and WFRP 2nd edition) has two basic mechanics that if you know them you can play the game, the more complicated stuff can come later. Those mechanics are that to suceed at something you need to roll under your characteristic on a d100 whith modifiers for your level of skill of +0, +10 or +20 depending on how well trained you are and modifiers assigned by the GM dependent on difficulty.

The other one is that damage is the damage stated on the weapon - soak, which is the first digit of your toughness (Toughness 33 for example would be 3 soak) + you armour bonus - any weapon modifiers.

While the game is alot more complicated than that if you know those rules you can pick other things up along the way. Character creation is pretty simple as it involves randomly rolled stats and preset equipment.

Don't feel that D&D is your only option for Roleplaying games just because its the most poplular. There are plenty of other games out there alot of them better than D&D in different areas.

There is Paranoia, New World of Darkness, Exalted, GURPS, Call of Cthulu, 40k Roleplay, WFRP 3rd ed, Dragon Age, Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, A Song of Ice and Fire and many many more. Just pick one thats right for you and your group, one that matches with your interests pretty well and has a level of complexity that suits you. If your not sure about a system ask around online or go to a gamestore and ask for advice.

Kaihlik

If DMing, time constraints, lots of rules and planning are all problems then people need to look at games that support that, rather than just seeing D&D and giving up. There are plenty of good ones out there... Polaris, Universalis, Fiasco, Shab-al-Hiri Roach and more, it's just they usually get overlooked.

There are also plenty of games that don't deal with 'geeky' sci-fi or fantasy, for instance Grey Ranks, Breaking the Ice, Dogs in the Vineyard and Fiasco (again).

In germany, a well known red-top/tabloid newspaper stigmatized goths as satanists too, what was followed by a low tide of the scene in the nineties. The stigmata /are/ still there, but look! Today, there're so many (so called goth) mainstream musicians, though it's not the same...- it has changed; like gaming has changed...- You know? I stop now, because the terms seem not to be compareable by logic.

My experience of adult RPD was excellent, was a gathering of around 4-7 people, the GM was adaptable enough to say 'Elron has been called away by his clan, you'll need to continue your work without him' and just continue the game if someone couldn't be there, and it was really a social event, with drinks, snacks and friends all around a table enjoying the evening, and one or two or us may have been geeky, (me, heh), but 3 of the regulars were women, and 2 of the other players were regular sports fans who'd found something new and fun in our weekly Cthulhu sessions.

On top of that, the GM knew I was a shy, inhibited kind of person, so for my own good, he'd push me into leading the group and roleplaying more, which could be tough but in the end was kind of liberating!

He also had his own rule where he'd give out points for ingenious solutions, or good roleplaying, therefore encouraging people to throw themselves into the game and not try to solve everything with violence.

Well firstly, in your picture you're missing a 4 sided die for you magic missiles and dagger damage rolls. Secondly, I think you're over reacting. I STARTED as a DM, anyone can try it, and I play AD&D! But living in Australia is probably the reason why it's so easy for me. We have this cool store called "Tin Soldier" which specialises in supplies for tabltop games and even has a back room which you can just use for playing whatever you want. So I guess our situation is different to yours.

Kaihlik:

There is Paranoia, New World of Darkness, Exalted, GURPS, Call of Cthulu, 40k Roleplay, WFRP 3rd ed, Dragon Age, Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, A Song of Ice and Fire and many many more. Just pick one thats right for you and your group, one that matches with your interests pretty well and has a level of complexity that suits you. If your not sure about a system ask around online or go to a gamestore and ask for advice.

Kaihlik

Serenity RPG is VERY good.

TheGreatCoolEnergy:

Cousin_IT:
tabletop gaming looks kinda cool. Then I look through the windows of Games Workshop & realise why I will never go further then painting the lil figurines.

sports looks kinda cool. Then I saw a game of football on T.V. and realised why I never play a game where the goal is to grab a huge sweaty dude and through him to the ground

see what I did there?

It is no less of a barrier just because it applies to multiple hobbies. I'm guessing you don't play football so the barrier kept you out, the same way Cousin_IT never started table top games. The biggest difference is that sport is everywhere, often done by the "in crowd", people get girls, earn fortunes and get fame because of the sports they play. Roleplay doesn't have the same obvious incentives. Im not saying there is no benefit to RP, its just not as visible as sport.

I train martial arts and know that seeing the training, watching meat heads in the gym training with aggression (Im 150lbs btw, im in good shape but dont look a monster), the odd bloody nose or big take down scares a lot of people off. Then you lose more when they start, find out it will take a long time to get good and that its hard work.

Tarkand:

0over0:

2) It's very time intensive. You don't really get together for an hour--the way you can with a videogame. Generall 3+ hours are taken up, once a week--that's a big time commitment.

How is it a big time commitment really?

You don't have poker nights with the guys?

You don't raid on WoW?

You don't watch Hockey/Basketball/Football/Soccer/whatever sport every week? Sporting event usually last 3 hours, often more if you count pre and aft shows.

Most people already invest 3hours+ a week to a given hobby.

If you think that most people already have a 3 hour+ hobby of their own an extra 3+ hours a week is a big ask. Look at it this way. I used to DM when younger. I no longer do as I train mixed martial arts 6+ hours a week, work up to 50 hours a week, am a full time father to a (nearly)2 year old boy and a full time (almost) husband. I also have to fit my videogaming in at some point.

An extra 3+ hours a week, at a time that is also compatible with 4-5 other people is a massive commitment. Then if you DM you need plenty of prep time on top.

I'm not sure the stigma transferred well over the Atlantic. I was introduced to D&D seven years ago by a group of veteran players, and most of them didn't fit the stereotype. Actually, beforehand I though they were serious party monsters. And afterwards, whenever we offered someone to join the group, they'd be interested - random people, someone's friend, someone's girlfriend, makes no difference. Not everyone was devoted, but I've yet to meet a person who isn't enticed by the thought.

Actually, recently a group of friends spontaneously asked if they could join my group, and now we're so numerous we have to split in two campaigns. They don't fit the stereotype either. In fact, throughout my life I've met people that surprised me when they mentioned they play videogames/D&D/Magic: The Gathering, etc. I guess it's all kinda new here, and comes with no stigma attached, so people just try it out with no prejudice.

Well, the people here were never exposed to any controversy, and most people still don't know about roleplaying. An added bonus is the ridiculous simplicity of D&D 4th edition, which became our default system for introducing new players.

Honestly lots of people have problems adapting to other personas and really getting into the idea of making a story and playing a game that doesn't require constant electrical stimuli. I mostly believe the change was part of the large WoW epidemic, where playing a fantastic person or creature became more common place even if it seriously lacked story.

No matter how hard you try as a DM, it is always going to be hard to get the one person who just wants to kill things into the main story and develop a growing in game person who has more on his mind that just the monsters at hand.

Been playing pen and paper table top gaming 16 bloody years and still play once a week, its great mental exersise and a nice alternative to hitting buttons all day long...

playing rogue trader at the moment and loving it but would not mind another classic d and d game sometime...

and yes there should have been more response to the idiots trying to depict rpgs as the devils instrument, when confronted by a christian fuckwit determined to prove to me that my hobby was evil I simply pointed out the irony of someone following their own mythical book that was actually PROVEN to have cause tragedy and death, jonestown to name but one.... and I can't thrown a d20 and simply kill jesus with my +10 sword of smiting so no fai, the dudes no more real than an orc.

Hey, my friend plays World of Darkness LARPs with the local Cam group, and he's not mocked by anyone I know other than myself, and it does not go beyond mere ribbing.

DnD has it easy, by the way. I'm trying to run an Eclipse Phase game and no one fucking wants to play it, at least not in my area.

And I think that's more because the setting confuses and scares most people I know, cause they don't even know what a transhuman is, let alone why you'd want to roleplay one...

We cant tell people how much it rocks. We have to show them.

bjj hero:

If you think that most people already have a 3 hour+ hobby of their own an extra 3+ hours a week is a big ask. Look at it this way. I used to DM when younger. I no longer do as I train mixed martial arts 6+ hours a week, work up to 50 hours a week, am a full time father to a (nearly)2 year old boy and a full time (almost) husband. I also have to fit my videogaming in at some point.

An extra 3+ hours a week, at a time that is also compatible with 4-5 other people is a massive commitment. Then if you DM you need plenty of prep time on top.

I think you missed my point.

Don't you see the irony of claiming that 3 hours to play D&D is a huge time commitment when you do martial art training 6 hours a week? You really don't? >_>

I mean we play D&D for like 5 hours every 2 weeks... you spend more than twice of your time kicking dudes than I do rolling dices.

But I'm the one with the huge time commitment hobby somehow? /boggle.

It's time management and priorities really. If you really wanted to play D&D, you'd have the time. You've decided you'd rather do something else with your free time, which is fine... but you can't really complain about the time requirement needed for D&D when it would be your 3rd hobby - it really wouldn't matter what other hobby you'd want to pick up, you'd be strapped for time regardless, it has nothing to do with it being D&D (or other pen and paper rpg).

Nigh Invulnerable:

Tarkand:

0over0:

2) It's very time intensive. You don't really get together for an hour--the way you can with a videogame. Generall 3+ hours are taken up, once a week--that's a big time commitment.

How is it a big time commitment really?

You don't have poker nights with the guys?

You don't raid on WoW?

You don't watch Hockey/Basketball/Football/Soccer/whatever sport every week? Sporting event usually last 3 hours, often more if you count pre and aft shows.

Most people already invest 3hours+ a week to a given hobby.

I think the person it's a big time commitment for is the DM. And since a good DM is rare enough as it is, finding one who can devote a decent amount of time to planning and prep can be difficult. Also, getting all the books for D&D can be rather costly.

It does take more time for the DM, I'm not going to deny that.

As for the costs tho? That's another lame duck excuse really.

Most rpg can be played with only the main book, which may be a huge 50$ (or more) bible, but that's it. D&D is actually one of the more expensive pen and paper rpg to start because it requires 3 of those books.

Assuming you play 10 hours per months (which isn't all that much), that comes down to 5$ an hour for the first month. Cheaper than just about anything other than going outside and throwing rocks. Every months thereafter, the prices lowers.

You want more books? Fine, buy em. It does increase the cost, but again, assuming you spend 300$ on books (Which is a sizable book collection, no matter which game system) and plays 10 hours a month, it will have cost you 2.5$ an hour after a year... And that's only counting actual gaming time, you have to factor in the entertaining from reading the books and than all further usages of it outside of the games (prep time for a game, min-maxing characters, etc). I wouldn't be surprised if it comes close to 1$ an hour.

And again, that's for people who play once every 2 weeks. What about those who play every week? Where the hell will they find all the money to afford a 0.50$/hour hobby! Guess they'll have to sell the house.

Keep in mind that if you're playing D&D, you should logical be cutting into something else as well... you'll probably buy less videogame, spend a friday night at home with friends instead of out on the town (Which can possibly cost you an entire D&D book collection in one evening) and so forth.

Tarkand:

I think you missed my point.

Don't you see the irony of claiming that 3 hours to play D&D is a huge time commitment when you do martial art training 6 hours a week? You really don't? >_>

I mean we play D&D for like 5 hours every 2 weeks... you spend more than twice of your time kicking dudes than I do rolling dices.

But I'm the one with the huge time commitment hobby somehow? /boggle.

It's time management and priorities really. If you really wanted to play D&D, you'd have the time. You've decided you'd rather do something else with your free time, which is fine... but you can't really complain about the time requirement needed for D&D when it would be your 3rd hobby - it really wouldn't matter what other hobby you'd want to pick up, you'd be strapped for time regardless, it has nothing to do with it being D&D (or other pen and paper rpg).

Guess I should roll monk... I have genuinely tried to sort out a game session last year but was stumped by no one else wanting to GM (I really dont have the time) and getting everyone to have the same 3 hours free each week. Ive heard the same said about any hobby. "I'd love to come train with you but I just dont have the time". 3 Hours in its self doesn't sound like a lot but it keeps people from doing many hobbies.

If you want it bad enough you will make the time but its a big enough barrier for those who are on the fence and are busy.

I playned PnP D&D as a kid and even had the luxury of having an older brother who not only enjoyed being the DM, but was also quite good it.

that said, i stopped playing when i reached my middle teens as sitting around playing lost interest for me as other hobbies began to dominate my life (soccer).

that said, i think one of the bigger reasons that PnP will not likely ever have another resurgance in popularity is due to MMORPGs. There you can almost do the exact same experience and MMOs are graphical, interactive, there is a community, you develop an attachment to your avatar, the classes and mechanics are similar ...

as long as people can get the same sense of immersion while playing online (and when the game is presented in full color right in front of your face (with stereo sound), that is a lot easier), i don't think PnP will ever have the popularity it once enjoyed.

Rokar333:
I'm getting the impression that really this is just you and your friends. I'm hosting a D&D game with my friends, and my dad has been tabletop gaming for 20 years. It is in fact how he met my mother. If your friends aren't supportive of a particular hobby, maybe it isn't society or some grand conspiracy, maybe it is just your friends. I live in Kentucky for crying out loud, and neither me nor any of my friends or relatives have run into this.

I think this is just you.

2nd theory: New Yorkers are pricks (though this comes mostly from personal experience).

I see your point and I thought it was that, too. New Yorkers aren't exactly how they are stereotyped, and are usually quite open to new things. So I thought it was just my friends.

But it wasn't. It was almost every single person that I spoke to at my job, on the subway or at parties. Even the actors and theater people I hung out with were anti-D&D.

Funnily enough, the one place that I didn't expect to be understood was on my amateur basketball team that consisted of financial guys and marketing schlubs. Most of them showed up in a suit & tie before changing into sneakers and shorts.

I couldn't make a game, and when I was asked why, I said that I had D&D scheduled that night. The captain of the team just shrugged and said, "That's cool, I played through Baldur's Gate on the PC with a whole bunch of buddies across the country. That was a lot of fun."

Tarkand:

How is it a big time commitment really?

You don't have poker nights with the guys?

You don't raid on WoW?

You don't watch Hockey/Basketball/Football/Soccer/whatever sport every week? Sporting event usually last 3 hours, often more if you count pre and aft shows.

Most people already invest 3hours+ a week to a given hobby.

Unless you are running strictly from a sourcebook, making your own encounters and plot can be extremely time consuming, and the time commitment increases exponentially with the number of players. For every hour in game, I tend to spend another hour out of game in prep work (usually filling in the gaps of my regular work day typing out stuff).

That rule applies to any system I've ever run. ANY. Even the one I've created from scratch.

As for the stigma of RP...the article hit the same issues I've always wondered.
Such as the contradiction between acting being acceptable and RP not...it's the same exact thing! It's audience participation! I've been to real shows that pull that stunt!

In fact, in writing most of my plot, encounters, and characters, I often feel more like the world's worst playwright getting ready to show with some of the worst actors ever.
But it's all in good fun!

But...but...but...I like the idea of belonging to such a close-knit group of enthusiasts constantly beleaguered by the angry outside world.

Let us stand strong together! We don't need society's approval! This stigmata bonds the ones who are wiser, let us rejoice our awesomeness!

Sigh, to this day, people still make fun of D&D, I don't really get it.
It's like saying playing Monopoly makes you into Bill Gates.

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