Recently, my Dad asked me to explain Dungeons and Dragons to him. Since he had no real basis for what D&D is even like, I had to break the game down pretty far. I gave him the ‘party line’ of D&D being, at its core, a group of people creating a story together. This wasn’t the first time I’d had this conversation, not even close. I’ve explained D&D many a time to friends, family, and girlfriends, but this was the first time my father had asked about it. First time he’d ever really shown an interest in it. That’s probably why it meant something more than all those other times. It got me thinking.
One of my players is at a different stage of his life than me. He has two sons and I can’t deny a certain amount of jealousy. He’s brought both of his sons down the rabbit hole. The older one is now our fifth player and the younger one is better than many players I’ve met. He is currently raising the next generation of D&D players, something I hope to eventually do myself. To me, D&D has always been a social experience, but maybe someday it could also be a family affair.
I’ve gotten loved ones involved in games before. The significant other at the table thing never works. There’s always some sort of favoritism. It doesn’t matter who at the table is in the relationship, more often than not it can derail the game. The couple that roleplays together, from my personal experience, has been the exception rather than the rule. I’ve gamed with a few girlfriends myself. One annoyed everyone at the table, one just wasn’t into it (and fell asleep, nice right?) and one was only doing it for me. I think the last was the worst. I guess it’s just a personal preference, but I like it when everyone at my table is there by choice.
So, I’ve played with friends and girlfriends, but never with family. It’s strange really. My uncle used to play, but never really introduced me to the game, never even brought it up. I didn’t find out he played until I went to college. I’ll never play with my father, I know this, and I accept it. It’s not his thing and I can tell he won’t enjoy it. Maybe someday I’ll teach my own children, but only if they really want to learn.
I think the most important thing I’ve taken from these musings is that you can’t force anyone to love D&D. Not everyone is going to want to play, despite the fact that everyone should play this game at some point in their lives, and not everyone will enjoy it. I guess the best advice I can give for bringing a loved one into D&D is not to thrust it upon them. Let them ask you to try it, let them play on their terms, and most importantly, let them decide on their own if they like it.