Last week, a new roommate moved in. He asked me what I do, and I said “I make roleplaying games.” He responded that he hasn’t had time to play “those sort of video games” for quite some time. Naturally, I corrected and said that I do the tabletop stuff (though occasionally I work on video games).
He had no idea what I was talking about. I mentioned Dungeons & Dragons, because that’s the iconic IP that people outside our hobby are familiar with. But that only served to confuse matters — he vaguely heard of it, and started describing what I think was an awkward description of one of the recent D&D board games.
End result: he has absolutely no concept of what I made, and I apparently have no concept of how to describe the hobby overall. And here’s what I found interesting: I didn’t want to use trite, pretentious shit like “it’s like improv with dice” — turns out that doesn’t mean a damned thing. When someone cannot conceive of what you do, using short, empty analogies is meaningless.
So I ask you, friends and fellow geeks, how would you explain the hobby to this person? And I don’t mean explain a single game (though that might be more effective), but to explain what our culture loves at a high-level view. For the final bit of difficulty, this person doesn’t have a blank concept of RPGS, he’s got one that’s solely console-based.
For clearly I am at a loss. I have lived in this world too long and surrounded myself either with those who already know or those who have no interest in this world.
Follow-up: When answering, imagine if the person followed up with “what does that look like?” That’s the part that’s hard, because I can’t just drop everything and grab people to play a four-hour game. (And likely why it’s easier to get into board games, since you can just play a short, two-person board game to explain.)