Popularity of DnD – Finding Fans in the Strangest Places

Floating down the Muskegon River in northern Michigan is just about the last place you’d expect to find hardcore evidence of the current popularity of DnD. Bald eagles? Yes. Trout? Yes. But Dungeon & Dragons?

NOT A DRAGON IN SITE – An hour into my trip down the Muskegon River I had seen a bald eagle, several blue herons, lots of turtles and a lovely brown trout caught by my son Andy.

R&R from D&D

For the past few years, I have been telling family members, friends and anyone else who will listen about the tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) called Dungeons & Dragons. I play D&D, run D&D and write about D&D. They are all sick of listening to me talk about it.

So they hauled me up to northern Michigan last week for a mental break from my obsession. It is true I spend an awful lot of time in front of my computer doing D&D stuff. With the current popularity of DnD, I run multiple games each week, plus run this website and play in multiple games. It can get pretty exhausting sometimes.

So as I squeezed myself into a kayak, taking only my cell phone and a couple beverages, I was ready to relax. It is extremely easy to relax during a late-summer float/paddle down the Muskegon River just below Croton Dam.

Kayaking the Muskegon

Michigan’s Muskegon River, over 200 miles long, played a big part in Michigan’s logging history. It is now a haven for wildlife, boaters, floaters, and fishers.

It was mid-week so there were few others on the water. There was one guy fly fishing and few small groups of kayakers. We had seen a large group of “tubers” in bathing suits, and equipped with several coolers, take off about ten minutes before we did. But we hadn’t caught up to them yet. The river usually makes up its own mind about who passes whom and when.

My husband and two sons were fishing. I was being lazy. So it was Charlene (my son’s girlfriend) who caught up to the tubers first.

Did you hear that? They were talking about D&D!
Charlene
Girlfriend-in-law

Paddling back to me, and knowing how obsessed I am, she clued me in.

What? Are you sure?

Yes! Ask them!

Which, of course, I did.

popularity of dnd

Natural 20

This group of nine tubers from Saginaw, Michigan, each held up 10 fingers and 10 toes as a salute to Dungeons & Dragons. I told them I would write about them and show this photo. But I have no idea how to get ahold of them! They were too busy having fun and I was too busy asking them questions and taking photos to exchange contact info. One of them (who’s name I can’t remember) promised he would look up this site’s URL. I hope he does and leaves a comment so I know he did.

Stranger Things - Popularity of DnD

We talked for about 30 minutes, back and forth. It is pretty darn hard to carry on a conversation while floating down a river. You have to dodge obstacles, avoid shallow spots and not ram into someone with your kayak. But we did surprisingly well.

Most of the Saginaw tubers had never actually played, but they all agreed it looked super fun. They were all “young” by my definition – somewhere in their 20s I would guess.

“What got you interested in the game?” I asked.

Stranger Things!” was the answer.

Season Four of Stranger Things features Dungeons & Dragons quite heavily. From there, several of them had discovered D&D Beyond and YouTube live-play series like Dimension 20.

popularity of dnd

POPULAR – Stranger Things’ Season 4, which includes the popular of Eddie Munson, has helped popularize a game that has been around for almost 50 years. Currently, the age demographic playing the most D&D are those age 20-24. As of May 2022, it is estimated over 50 million people have interacted with the game thus far.

More to come

Looking ahead to the further in terms of the popularity of DnD: In March of 2023, Dungeons & Dragons will hit the big screen with some major star power. Paramount Pictures will release Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. It will star Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Regé-Jean Page and Michelle Rodriguez. The following year, 2024, Dungeons & Dragons will celebrate its 50th year. By the looks of it, it is going to be seriously big party.

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