The first time I played Dungeons & Dragons was in 1978. Yes, I’m really that old. There weren’t any groups around to join back then. I wanted to play, which meant that I had to learn how to be the Dungeon Master. That’s why I have nothing but sympathy for people that find roleplaying hard to learn. Even having nothing to worry about other than the core mechanic and your character’s abilities can be daunting. I think that’s why so many new players tend to drop out within the first few sessions.
Scott Niswander addresses this, and many other issues, in his latest video. He chronicles his journey from finally getting to play D&D (and having a bad initial experience) to running a one-shot within a year. It covers all of the obstacles he faced. He talks honestly about the things that killed his enthusiasm. Then he explains how he found his interest again, and fell completely in love with roleplaying.
It all comes down to people. I’ll keep saying this until the day I day. A book isn’t a game. Dice and maps and miniatures aren’t a game. A group of kind, supportive people able to share their creativity, that’s the game. The biggest obstacle to the industry isn’t the price of printing, or the impact of the pandemic on conventions. It’s the toxic elements in the culture.
We need more voices like Scott’s. People willing to be open about barriers to entry. New folks coming into the hobby who will share hard truths, ask great questions, and propose workable solutions. Along with that, we need more people to step up and celebrate the warm, welcoming elements in the greater community. The good people are out there. It needs to be easier to find them. It doesn’t matter f you find roleplaying hard to learn when you have cool, patient people willing to help.