Would it be too much to ask if the current trend continues?
Trend? What trend?
Well, the trend to make fantasy more mainstream and acceptable as a whole. We’re on a good path, the current trend was started close to twenty years ago with the release of the first LotR film, “Fellowship of the Ring.” I can recall it as if it were just yesterday when friends (not fantasy fans) came up to me after having watched the film and asking me questions about the books, as well as the genre as a whole. One of them even joined our DnD sessions for a while until time constraints did not allow for it anymore.
Prior to that it was a niche that was only inhabited by bookworms who enjoyed visiting fantastical worlds and the gamers (no not the video gamers) who were interested in exploring them in more detail.
I cut my teeth on books like “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” as a child. It was through this interest that my cool uncle decided to purchase me a board game named “Dungeons & Dragons.” For me the rest was history. But not for my peers.
For them the game was silly with complicated rules that made it hard to play and “un-fun.” I on the other hand quickly outgrew the rule set and needed to upgrade to the Advanced version. It was there that I created my first real character Darius Darkhelm and guided him through a campaign which featured my uncle as GM. The number of sessions I played during that first campaign felt like an immense quest. Honestly, it was probably only about six to eight sessions. We used to play every Saturday at four in the afternoon until he passed away.
But I was the only one in school that felt like that.
In fact this new found interest wasn’t shared by the masses at large. Many parents felt that the game promoted witchcraft and sorcery. If only! Still, this made it hard to find other people to play with. My mother helped me join a Play-by-Post circle but the time it took and the cost of stamps (this was in the eighties, no internet) took a big chunk out of the money I made with my newspaper delivery route. Needless to say, I spent more time reading the guides and coming up with my own additions than playing, still, it was a wonderful time. It wasn’t until college that I would find like minded people to play with (you guys know who you are).
Hop, skipping, and jumping into the present there really isn’t any comparison to those early years. You can name plenty of examples where what used to be “the realm of geeks” is today an aspect of popular culture. Where “Everquest” was weird “World of WarCraft” ruled. These shifts in cultural perspective are thanks to popular media like the LotR trilogy, to games like WoW and all the other milestones which have marked the way.
That is not to say that that is the only way the topic has slipped into our lives. It has become an acceptable topic, one that has allowed it to grow. Board and tabletop games are everywhere. I read (somewhere, sorry don’t have a link) that table tops are more popular now than ever before. They are big business. You see companies offering game retailers the associated material for them as if they were any other profession. What was once pushed into the shadows is now out in the open, people talk about RPGs with their friends, play them together as couples, and my kids (believe it or not) were introduced (majorly) to them through their friends. I wish I had had friends like that! Had you asked me when I was growing up if I would want to start a business selling tabletops and other fantasy related merchandise the answer would have been clear.
Is this a good thing?
Well, if you are looking for an unbiased answer to that question you will need to ask somebody other than I, as this just happens to be the entire theme of my life. Regardless, if I were to answer it, and I am going to, the take away that feels right is yes. We all need a little fantasy in our lives. Something that takes us on a magical journey to a time or place we would otherwise not be able to experience.
Don’t get me wrong, a game world is not one that I would want to live in, they have some hellish realms, but it is one that affords an adventure worth remembering. And they are not all like that, there are kid friendly places in DnD that encourage their imaginations. They did for me, giving me a chance to experience and work through problems in a safe environment. That they offer a positive experience is one of their greatest advantages and it is what makes these worlds so wonderful.
See you in the dungeons!