Last Thursday me and 4 friends got together to play an RPG. No one had done any preparation, no one had to GM and the whole thing was over (character gen through to the end of the story) in 2 1/2 hours (about the length of a movie).
We played http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/fiasco/ but there are plenty of other games in existence you can play without them devouring your free time, needing to commit to regular games or spend too much money on.
I mentioned this before but I figure I wasn't specific enough.
TL;DR: If you have a busy schedule, play a game that doesn't take much time.
I've been playing videogames since I was 6, but not once have I ever come into contact with D&D, (excluding games like Neverwinter Nights that are based on the D&D mechanics).
I would like to give it a go sometime though, (LARP sounds quite fun, and would be pretty cool way to do something creative and active, (though I hope it isn't just medieval themed, (would be pretty cool to act out something futuristic, (Modern-sci-fi esque, or B-movie lolsomeness!), or even something akin' to street fighter (though some would find that kinda silly! XD)).
Problem is, I can't seem to find enough people with the time and the open-mindedness to give it a go.
Even my closest friends, (both avid gamers like me! :D), are usually too busy to even get into contact with me sometimes.
Yeah, its easier to turn on the xbox or PC and send party invites to play some online game. Finding local people to get together at the same time, for several hours (ok a few at least), and play D&D is tough.
Speaking of which, I'm looking for a group to play D&D with in Beaverton, OR area :)
I can still sorta understand why it's fringe ... if only for the quintessential role of the DM...
Yes ... being a DM is painful. You spend just as much time reading, listening to players whine how you're so totally nerfing their character below everybody else by not letting their character learn a ridiculously oped spell, than actually PLAYING.
And even then it's some sort of freaking prerequisite that the DM shouldn't have any fun by their ownsome even once they do all the legwork themselves.
Then everybody thinks you're a little Hitler when you turn around and judicate on a scenario because one PC is being a smartass with a wish spell by trying to make you read two pages of legal jargon that you inevitable throw over your shoulder and say;
"Mystical Wish genie says 'TL:DR. Banishment to Stygian pits for your crime of pissing off Mystical Wish genie'".
People think DMing D&D is strange ... because it is. You must be partly masochistic to want to DM a game ... playing D&D is normal. I think it's completely normal. You bring a few 6 packs, share them amongst the others, somebody brings a couple of pizzas and you play.
But being a DM is not the same as playing D&D ... because alot of the time it feels like a second job.
PCs just need to drag their butts to the game ... whereas you have to be at EVERY game, do 50 times the amount of reading, think on the spot and ad lib ALL the freaking time, be the target of so much geek rage over things you just 'rule' then and there.
So playing D&D = normal ... DMing D&D = insane ...
Your only comfort is the knowledge that your players *might* raise their hand at the end of an adventure and say 'I don't mind running a few side missions' ... your heart jumps for joy ... then you realise the pc now dming hasn't dmed in decades and has refit his adventure with training wheels whilst (understandably) he refinds his dming ability.
So your 'break' becomes a tedious hacky-slashy affair with your lovingly created character joining the rigmarole of a homogenised D&D adventure.
Ain't life grand for a DM? Which is, heart and soul, what D&D is all about ... the Dm ... and how crushingly lonely it is to be a DM that you fantasise about TPKing everybody just so somebody realises you want to be a PC again.
Well it takes a certain kind of devotion to play D&D. While the character spreadsheets have certain rules, the adventure itself is left up to your own imagination. The poor DM is essentially the equivalent of the internet server in World of WarCraft, generating all the monsters and their stats, deciding the outcome of each battle and trying to keep the game interesting. The only thing that is 'set' in D&D is the player character. You have to put together your own world. People that will or can do that are generally viewed as people who have waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy to much time on their hands. Ya know, losers. I won't say virgins because kids also/mostly play D&D.
You want the hobby to stop having a stigma and to be more socially acceptable and recognizable as a valid way of spending time, and even perhaps an artistic medium? Great! I've got a solution.
STOP PLAYING FU**ING D&D.
It's the single most characteristic role-playing game which everybody has at least heard about, but at the same time it's, by default, as far from the role-playing principle as possible. Consider this introductory video and take note of how many times the word 'roleplaying' is used and in what context, and what the guy says about the importance of roleplaying.
For those of you who don't want to watch it for any reason, I'll tell you. The word is used three or four times, in the following contexts: traps, 'other hazards', 'non-combat situation such as chasing a guy in a crowded market rolling for such skills like Athletics, Acrobatics and Streetwise'. Also, he doesn't say ANYTHING about the importance of role-playing in, you know, a ROLE PLAYING GAME.
Seriously, the fact that D&D is so popular is possibly the one MOST damaging thing and the biggest problem for the hobby. RPG players as seen as these guys who sit in the basement fiddling with miniatures and rolling dice. Not as those guys which create alternate realities in which they play roles, not unlike in theatre, only more freeform, with a lot of improvisation and creating a story together. What games does that description remind you of more - D&D, or World of Darkness? D&D, or Call of Cthulu? D&D, or Warhammer (let's count second or first edition here)?
I wanted to read through all the articles from the series, but I simply don't find myself interested in reading about D&D. D&D is not the only RPG on the market, it's not the best RPG on the market in ANY department, and it's also not an RPG, or RP-encouraging, in my understanding. You want the stigma to go away? Start playing something else, preferably more story driven and slanted toward actual role-playing than 'dungeoneering', and promote that. Maybe some day people will finally see that RPG's are probably the most important gaming achievement in human history, or at least in the last 100 years.
I realize this is a bit late and will be considered threadromancy, however this little topic has hit pretty close to home as I have recently had a lot of problems with some of my friends on this very topic.
A few of my seem like fairly nerdy people, they watch Supernatural, they enjoy dragon age mass effect and one of them is deeply immersed in the star wars universe. I thought it might be a cool idea to introduce the serenity RPG (these guys are all massive Firefly fans) It went smashingly. we met on thursdays and shot purple bellies, blew up expensive space mansions, smuggled contraband, etc. But as the game wore on I as the GM began to see a pattern, they enjoyed combat. They thrived on it, every time there was fighting they began to get excited unlike when we were simply roleplaying. I suggested after carful consideration that my nerves couldn't take running fast hard combat on the heavy and cumbersome combat mechanics in the SerenityRPG. I suggested D&D 4.0. Huge mistake. Each person dismissed it. "It's too nerdy", "magic is stupid" It was hypocrisy at it's finest, how can you play one RPG and see another as "too nerdy" it's all the same caliber of nerdy. In all honesty my opinion of the group dropped, I thought I had found a group of people that were excepting of nerd culture. Instead I found a group of guys that want me as the GM to be an interactive simulation, providing option cues and dialogue trees, much like the videogames they play. It frustrated me and left a bit of a division between us as a group ever since.
This has been a great series so far in helping me understand RPGing in a hostile world.