[generic] RPG age demographics

#1
I had a brief but interesting conversation with one of the players at the table at Expo. He was of the opinion that although the hobby was seemingly going from strength he believed that the hobby would eventually die out given the age of most players.

At first I thought, well I think overall RPG sales are rising, but then there are plenty in my demographic who are able to spend decent amounts of money on the hobby. In my teens I'd get about a book a year, now it's more like 1 a week.

So, I had a look around the room, and the vast majority of players were middle-aged men. And thinking about the con games I played, at 39 I was often one of the youngest if not the youngest player at the table. But is this just a function of who is attracted to con games?

I've got a nagging feeling he's wrong but I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts on this. Are there any stats on age demographics in the hobby?
 
#2
I go to a group in Southampton and although there are few men who are older (at least two retired) the majority of the 8-10 games are being run by and being played by people in their twenties. So of of the 50 or so people who turn up every week 90% are probably below 30 and many in their early twenties. Now going to a con such as Expo is fairly costly even if you get an AirBnB so I can see why the demographics are skewed. Go to somewhere that offers 5e DnD games and you'll find hordes of younger people playing.
 
#3
There were 90 at NoddSoc (Sheffield Uni rp society) last year and 120 this year. When I helped found it 40 years ago there were only 14 of us & none at The Nationals, which were just wargames in those days, whereas many universities send rp teams to this annual event now.
Plus those at Hallam Uni Games Society plus the groups playing twice a week at Patriot Games. Plus a couple of games in schools that I have heard of. And some children of gamers just starting to get into the hobby. As well as those meeting at the Treehouse Board Game cafe.
Not all around age 15-30 but the majority.

In addition, many younger folks play online exclusively or in addition to tabletop.

That's just what one person has seen in one city and there are many games going on here of which I am only peripherally aware in addition.
Yes, cons tend to attract the older gamer as do wargames societies.
 
#4
Go to somewhere that offers 5e DnD games and you'll find hordes of younger people playing.
I suspect this is the core of it. D&D has always been the gateway to and the major player in the RPG community. I expect that the majority of players never play anything else, and never go to a convention.

Couple that with the inevitable changes that happen in priorities as people grow up, and I think a rigorous study would find: lots of kids playing D&D with their friends for 3 or 4 years before giving it up, and a long tail of diehard fans who eventually turn into miserable old grognards. The trick, as ever, is to turn the first into the second.

I don't have a feel for the conversion rate, but nothing leads me to despair just yet. We are only just reaching the point where we have a full spread of ages in roleplaying, so it doesn't surprise me that much that the scene seems to be getting older. Maybe in another 40 years it will have all stabilised. May we all live to see it!
 

Guvnor

Administrator
Staff member
#6
Oh I am swamped by young people in their 20s wanting to play and actually doing so, often from scratch with the Phandelver 5e Starter set and watching critical role on Twitch.
Case in point: I mentioned I was playing an rpg to a young barman, knowing nod, and then how he can't satisfy all the people who want to play D&D with him, he's running 4 games a week.
When did he start? 4 years ago..

So, I think huge new infusion of young blood ongoing.
 
#8
From the little I've seen from my cell window, I'd say that something very important happened a few years ago.
Until then it was looking a little bleak. Yes, first-generation gamers' children often had something to do with the hobby, but the fact was that total numbers were indeed dwindling, at least in terms of sales, which does loosely translate to numbers of people actually playing.
Then RPGs suddenly became a subject of conversation and attention outside the RPG hobby itself, and in a very positive way. Youngsters became curious, had a look, and some have been well and truly hooked. I've seen it in wargames shows too; all of a sudden, literally in the last three or four years, the young faces aren't being dragged around by their passionista parents, they're dragging their very own confused and bored parents behind them.
Something's happened. Something wonderful.
 

Guvnor

Administrator
Staff member
#10
Twitch: Critical Role
Stranger Things may have had more to do with bringing older gamers back
Permeation of original gamers into the deep backbone of geek culture and that culture has become mainstream
 

pedr

Lay member
#11
There’s an interview with an American girls’ middle school teacher/technician on this week’s Dragon Talk. About 3 years ago one of the girls guessed he’d be the person to ask and wondered if he’d seen Stranger Things and knew anything about that D&D game the boys played on it and now the school has a club, a D&D class, and D&D summer camp..! Apparently the girls don’t know anything about streaming RPGs or Matt Mercer at that age but seeing kids playing sparked their interest.
 
#13
18 months ago I went to my local uni games club looking to run some one-off RPG sessions. I did manage to get a few in, but what I found interesting (well, depressing at the time but interesting now) was that as far as the kids were concerned roleplaying was D&D.
'Is there any role playing at this club?'
'Yes, we have an active D&D community'
I guess I didn't appreciate how much work Games Workshop were putting in to promoting all the other RPGs they published when I was a lad.
 
#14
18 months ago I went to my local uni games club looking to run some one-off RPG sessions. I did manage to get a few in, but what I found interesting (well, depressing at the time but interesting now) was that as far as the kids were concerned roleplaying was D&D.
'Is there any role playing at this club?'
'Yes, we have an active D&D community'
I guess I didn't appreciate how much work Games Workshop were putting in to promoting all the other RPGs they published when I was a lad.
Yes, last year at NoDDSoc was rather like that: I was in one of only 2 non-D&D/Pathfinder games. This year there has been a greater variety. I think it just takes time for folks to branch out. Not all will do so. I remember buying Runequest only a couple of months after finding D&D but it took me 4 years (& a superb GM in Ipswich) actually to play other games than D&D.
 
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