While digital gaming technology has come on in leaps and bounds, opening up entire virtual worlds for people to explore, there is still a huge market for games like D&D which are based firmly in the traditional table top realm.
So what is it that makes old-school experiences so enduringly appealing, and what might the future hold for table top gaming?
Even in an age where virtual reality is a mainstream technology, there’s still something unbeatably involving about playing games with physical figurines and the associated accessories to go along with them.
The Dungeons and Dragons terrain sets are a great example of this, allowing the imaginations of players to be further aided and enhanced by giving them a tangible space for their characters to inhabit.
The same goes for other games like D&D, as you get that unbeatable sense of interactivity when you are moving tactile objects around, rather than just using a controller to shift pixels on a screen.
There are some table top games which are made to be played by just one person, but the majority are best enjoyed in the company of a group of like-minded individuals.
There’s definitely a lot to be said for online multiplayer games, but at the same time you cannot rival the community spirit which comes with getting together in the same room for a session of D&D.
And of course at a time when streaming has reached new heights of popularity, there’s also a healthy scene for remote table top gaming, breaching even more boundaries while still retaining the same social element that is so alluring.
D&D in particular is a very flexible framework for table top gaming, which can be played using the mainstream campaigns and rules, or can be adapted and taken in whatever direction the dungeon master decides.
This level of creativity is rarely found in the carefully curated and crafted gaming industry. Sure, there are exceptions like Minecraft, but for the most part the kinds of fantasy experiences which are available are somewhat rigid.
Even sprawling recent releases like Elden Ring still see players going through the same plot, even if the build variety is excellent.
Talking of build variety, the amount of control which D&D and its offshoots and impersonators give to players is similarly unprecedented.
While the rigid mechanics of modern video games tend to channel everyone through the same systems, and limit their choices as to how they achieve their goals, the choices open to table top gamers are far less restricted.
Anything that can be determined by the roll of a dice can be done, whether that’s attempting to attack an orc with a battle axe, or to woo a stubborn innkeeper with a kind word.
Thus the creativity and the imaginativeness is not just down to the DM, but to each of the players participating in the game they are hosting. It is a far cry from the repetitiveness of first person shooters or the microtransaction-afflicted economies of open world adventures.
The final point to make about the attraction of table top games is that they can be comparatively inexpensive to get into. While there are lots of different versions to buy and expansions to add, you don’t need to spend much to start enjoying D&D.
Conversely, the cost of games consoles or adequately capable PCs is steep, and then there’s the issue of supply chain disruption, hardware availability and scalping to contend with.
In all, table top games look set to remain relevant going forward, even if they feel tied to a bygone era in so many ways.