Despite the title, this small series of posts will be about how to help introduce gamers to D&D, not specifically for a newcomer to learn D&D on their own. I hope to hear from people about what worked for their group introducing new players.
I could just Wil Wheaton it here, say, “Don’t be a dick!” and drop the mic, but I think being part of the D&D is more than just that. But definitely, “Don’t be a dick!” is a good way to start. Heh.
We may think that individually we in no way affect the D&D community, but that could not be further from the truth. I believe that the main contributing factors individuals have upon the community are knowledge and ignorance. In the past, people believe that games had no intrinsic value (except to escape from reality), that D&D was about devil or demon worship, that gaming was not socially acceptable, and that covering insecurities with bad hygiene and condescension was the way to be a geek (think Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons). This ignorance led to a lot of problems for D&D and gamers in general, perpetuated by idiots on both sides of the gamer-verse. People would discriminate against gamers and gamers would discriminate against non-gamers. That made is incredibly difficult for most people to just enjoy the hobby without judgement (or possibly persecution).
Recently I listened to Chris Perkins at Gamehole Con 2015 via a podcast. If you fast forward to around 47 minutes, Chris really goes into what the stories of D&D are meant to do. They are meant to attract new people and create a healthy atmosphere. They are welcoming, inclusive, and appeal to more than just middle-America white guys. It is incumbent on Wizards of the Coast to spend resources to do just that and to dispel any of the negativity that might still exist. Also, it is their job (and I believe ours as well) to make sure that their stories do not discriminate, that people do not have any perceived barriers, and remind people that “D&D has always been safe and fun and smart and friendship-inducing“. (I may have paraphrased a bit except for the last quote.)
So where does knowledge come in? It is easier to spread bad news and negativity than a good word. That means everyone with knowledge of the joy of D&D (sorry, do not mean to make it sound like a religious organization, heh) needs to spread the good. But more specifically, knowledge dispels the ignorance. You are not the stereotypical gamer (if that even exists anymore), you are you, and it is your privilege to show the world your D&D, whether in a home game, your private writing, over social media, or to an even wider audience.
For the past few months, I have seen the wonderful good that Critical Role does for individuals, how they feel with that shared gaming experience. I have seen the wonderful good that gamers reaching deep into their hearts and pockets for Extra Life and other charities, giving back even though some cannot even afford it themselves. I have seen people make wonderful lives and careers living out their dreams of being in the gaming industry. That is more important than the ignorant, the discriminatory, and the naysayers.
So… are you adding to the greater good of the D&D community? Or… are you one of the others?
D&D is for everyone and it is everyone’s game. Do the D&D community proud. It is a pretty nice place to be… you are part of it, after all.
But… what do I know…?