We all react differently to the prospect of ‘something new’. The idea of sampling a new food, taking part in a new sport or meeting a new social group can instil fear and trepidation in many, whilst others can leap at new experiences with glee. Even something as harmless as Dungeons & Dragons can seem like a daunting prospect for new players.
Even if you tell a person that D&D is easy to get into, they may still be hesitant. Inform them that they don’t need to know or the rules and buy all the parts to play, that person may still be reluctant to join in. They may be interested, but misconceptions exist about how ‘intense’ the game is. I’ve had many new players reflect on how they thought that D&D consisted of focused players pouring over character sheets and spewing complex jargon, a blur of numbers and structured play.
I’m sure that there are people that play Table Top Role Playing Games in a regimented style, with no time for idle chatter, only the ‘organised fun’ arranged before them. In my experience however, TTRPGs are much more laidback, far more relaxed than you might expect. Which leads me to the second reason you should try out Dungeons and Dragons:
Reason #2: Dungeons & Dragons is the best kind of social experience.
There are lots of ways to socialise with people, but not every activity is actually that social. Think about it:
- When you play a sport, you only get to chat to people in the downtime. Unless you are shouting instructions across the pitch/court, of course. For the most part, you are focused on your physicality, interacting with the other players after a fashion but not really ‘hanging out’ with them.
- Meeting up at a restaurant or a bar is a better way to sit around and catch up with friends, but public places can be very loud and in larger groups the more outspoken extroverts wedge more into the conversation.
- When we go out with people to the theatre or the cinema, we get to talk before and after, but there’s a deliberate patch of silence in the middle.
- Playing video games with friends online or on the couch is a fun experience, but your attention is so focused on what you are doing it can be quite hard to react to the other people with you.
In my opinion then, board games in general are the best sort of social experience. Everyone sat comfy with friends and/or family, usually in a familiar environment, with as much or as little drink and food nearby as you like. You don’t have to focus entirely on the game until it is your turn, spending time chatting to the people around the table.
D&D exemplifies the social qualities of Table Top gaming. Unlike a board game, it’s not always your ‘turn’, and you don’t have to manage your cards or pieces every few minutes. Dungeons and Dragons is essentially a story. The Dungeon Master begins the tale and the players narrate their involvement. You can add as much or as little to the story as you like, and when you’re not doing that, you are chatting with the players around the room.
If I’m being honest, I think my players spend about 60% of a session actually playing Dungeons & Dragons. The rest of the time we’re going off on a tangent about the latest movie, or we’re laughing about the weird direction the game session has taken, or we’re taking a break for food. I’m sure there are DMs that keep the table more disciplined. My players can never stay on track for the whole session, and I sometimes derail things myself. It’s all part of the fun.
What’s more, D&D is a conversation starter all on its own. If you join a game with people you hardly know, or you get nervous about opening conversations, think of D&D as a “you-had-to-be-there” moment generator. Sometimes it’s the experience of your Player Characters saving each other from certain doom, other times it’s the ridiculous, chaotic moments that comes from a player rolling terribly in the worst possible situations, or the bonkers statements you hear uttered around the room. You will soon find you have plenty of things to talk about with your new friends.
My Kind of Social (A Bit About Me)
I enjoy being social, preferably with one or two friends or a small group, though one quirk of mine is that I do like to have things pre-planned. If someone messaged me to say that they’re free now and wondered if I was available, I’m likely to give my excuses, but if they asked me the day before I’ll say yes and look forward to it. On top of this, I’m less comfortable in larger, crowded social gatherings, and I’m very reluctant to go to parties where I know only a couple of people.
In short, for me to be sociable always take a tiny jolt of conscious effort. If I’m not confident about a get-together, you won’t find me there.
Dungeons & Dragons, as with other TTRPGs, provides people like myself and other introverts a friendly and comfortable place to socialise. The nature of the game provides a safety net for those that feel less comfortable (or make a conscious decision to join) in social situations. When meeting up with people in a communal environment, many people can feel awkward, even nervous, about how they open discussion and interact with others. D&D offers a sort of distraction in this situation.
The people around you are focused on the DM and their characters, and so are you. You can jump in on player ideas or just observe. On those few occasions when it is decidedly ‘your turn’ to talk, such as in combat, you’ll get given plenty of time to think about what you want to say. The best bit is that your response can’t be wrong. Whatever you have to say adds to the story, no matter how wacky or benign. Quite empowering when you think about it.
In the range from extrovert who’s just looking to try a new game and make new friends, to the quiet and uncertain gamer who wants to reach out, Table Top games are the best way to hang out with people. The entry requirements are low: just a bit of imagination and the ability to play as a team. There’s no need to fret about small talk, the game will provide you with plenty to chat about. Regardless of whether you feel like you have a lot to say, you are part of a greater story, an adventure shared with friends.
If you’re reading this, and you have your own thoughts on D&D as a social activity, comment below. Maybe you were that quiet soul that took a chance on D&D and have forge a strong friendship group? Or maybe you just want to extend and invitation for new, shy players to come join you.
If you’re reading this and thinking about getting into D&D, feel free to ask me any other questions you have about this wonderful game. If you do get involved after this, let me know about your experiences!
Thank You For Reading
Written by Rufus Scott.