Hey Game Fans, today we’re going to have a little bit of a ramble about a topic that we all think we know everything about (Gatekeeping) and how none of us would ever do anything like that to new folks. Earlier this week, the CEO of Hasbro was interviewed by a big news network and made a comment to the effect that the Dungeons and Dragons properties are growing and expanding as a financial success and he thinks that one way to grow these properties even further was through the use of an esports style approach to life. Sounds like an okay thing (oh, and they announced they were bringing Eberron back and opening up the Magic the Gathering world of Ravnica as playgrounds for Dungeons and Dragons).
Well, if this was a test of gatekeeperism in the fandom, a lot of you failed hard.
“We don’t need Esports for D & D.”
“D & D isn’t about that.”
These are some of the sentiments echoed by voices in the community this week, and in some cases, these are voices that are constantly saying we need more players in games, that we need to open the game up to other folks. These are voices that have made comments to the effect of “It doesn’t matter how you came to the fandom, you’re welcome here because you love Dungeons and Dragons.”
Am i a personal fan of e-sports? To be honest, i have no idea what e-sports are or how you participate (I am still reasonable certain i will end up getting picked last again). That doesn’t change the fact that the people who make Dungeons and Dragons (and their bean counter overlords, respectfully) are in the business to make money and grow the customer base. I can live with that. More people playing means there are more people getting into a hobby that i have spent 30 some odd years of my life enjoying.
Dungeons and Dragons, as a hobby, has done a lot of really cool things for me and the people in my life that i care about. I think that more people in the hobby is better than less, and the new folks who come to it from an e-sports background are just as capable of learning the tabletop version of the game as everybody else. The real secret is even if they don’t ever pick up a set of polyhedral dice, they are still fans of the game that we love. They just process it a little differently than the rest of us.
Build some tourism departments, see what the game has to offer before you start immediately mocking the new people to the game. We were all new at one point or another, so try to make their transition into the game as easy as possible. Be better people to the folks around you, and welcome the new kids in, chances are they don’t have an idea of what they are doing and are going to need some help. Do you want to be the person that drives people off the cliff of not wanting to be a fan, or do you want to be the person that shows them the amazing world of possibilities that Dungeons and Dragons has to offer? I know which camp i’m in.
Game On, Game Fans, and we’ll see some of you next week at Gencon. Out for now, see you around the campfires.