The popularity of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) has grown tremendously in recent years. Many people demarcate their weeks around their gaming sessions. However, if anything threatens to put a dent in its growth, it is the Coronavirus.
An RPG game session is by its nature a very close, non-socially distanced endeavor. For example, DnD Dice are rolled by everyone on the same table with players peering over the table to see the outcome of the roll. Sometimes, the success or failure of a particular adventure can come down to one roll of the dice, making everyone at the table very interested in a roll. This intimate style of imaginary adventuring is what has drawn millions to the TTRPG community since DnD’s creation in the 1970’s.
The Coronavirus, however, has had a huge negative impact on local game shops, especially early in the pandemic. Not only have local gaming shops closed, but groups have broken up and ceased their gaming sessions mid-adventure. This was especially true of groups that met at local gaming shops that temporarily closed their doors during state-mandated shutdowns.
While many DnD players are young adults, there are many older, long-time players active in the community as well. Also, many young adults live with or care for their older parents. This makes them think twice about sharing a small space with several people for an extended period of time.
With a vaccine on the horizon, there may be hope for a return to normalcy. Some, however, believe that the move to online DnD sessions will be the new normal. Online sessions are conducted via connecting technologies like Discord and Zoom. However, the shift online predates Coronavirus. Some people have exclusively played online for years. In fact, in some parts of the country, there simply isn’t enough people interested in DnD in a local community to sustain a regular group. Those in rural America have little choice but to adventure with people they have met and only know online.
It remains to be seen if, post Coronavirus, there will be a shift back to in-person gaming and a decline in online-only DnD sessions. There is something about holding a real d20 in your hands. The anticipation of the roll, watching the dice roll across the table as it leaves your hands, and waiting anxiously for the result. While online-only sessions aren’t going away, hopefully, in-person sessions and here to stay as well!