RPGs are the Cheapest Form of Gaming Entertainment

I was annoyed earlier today about yet another board game that aims to recreate the tabletop RPG experience without being an RPG, and I didn’t understand why people want a watered down RPG experience when they can get the real thing just as easily (possibly easier, financially, as I’ll explain in a bit). I complained about this to some gamer friends on Discord, and they pointed out a blind spot for me.

As one person said, “don’t discount your experience.” They outlined the following points that were well taken.

  • You need DM who is willing to run games.
  • You need to have the time to run a full 3-4 hour session (shorter games are possible but this is the sweet spot in my experience)
  • You need friends near you to pull together a group.
    • They need to have the time for 3-4 hour sessions.
  • Not everyone has the experience to just pick up and play RPGs some people find the whole idea intimidating. I’ve been playing almost 40 years. It’s easy for me. Not everyone.

I had forgotten rule #2, which is “I am not the target audience for all things.” I forget what Rule #1 is, probably don’t talk about fight club.

I went on to argue that, despite these things, penny for hours spent, RPGs are about the cheapest form of entertainment. I can run an RPG with a pencil, a few sheets of paper, and dice. Sure, you might want some books too if you want to get all rules-y, but the basics are things that a lot of people already have. They may not have polyhedral dice, but I guarantee they have a copy of fucking Monopoly knocking around in a closet somewhere. You and most everyone has the basic materials needed to run an RPG in their home.

They just don’t know how to get started, and the opportunity costs can be high, as said above.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that Gen Z and Millenials have caused an explosion of popularity for RPGs, given this economic advantage. Video games are great, but AAA titles cost $60 to $70 now, and you’ll run out of material in, what, a month at most? If you buy three core D&D rule books for around $100, that gives you the materials you need for about, and I’m roughly estimating here, 45 years of entertainment. Provided you can satisfy the requirements above.

Enjoy your board game RPGs, though. I am not here to tell anyone how to have fun. Me, I think I’ll stick with the full RPG experience most of the time, but I’m now much more aware of my grognard privilege.

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