I've known folks who have played more than me and who have been playing longer. However, I feel like I can say I've been around long enough to see some changes.
Back in the 80s, games read like they had been written as engineering manuals. When I look back at the original Dungeon Masters Guide for Dungeons and Dragons, I don't know how we managed to play the game.
(To be fair, D&D did get its start from war gaming. Since one of the major starting points of wargaming was military colleges, there's a good chance that they were designed by engineers.)
Last year, I read the rules for a role-playing game called Hero Kids, which was designed to be a dungeon crawler for ages four to ten. It had very simple and easy to understand iconographic and very simple approach to dice pools.
First of all, it was a role-playing game that was simple enough that you could explain it to somebody who had never played and have them up and running in less than five minutes. Second of all, if you had talked about running a Dungeons & Dragons game for four-year-olds, you'd have been accused of being a Satanist back in the day.
Seriously, if there is one thing that really strikes me about the change in gaming, it is that it has become so much more acceptable. Sure, you can still get teased for doing it but folks are going to socially ostracize you for it. Heck, people think I'm a little weird because I don't play video games.
But, in general, even ignoring the fact that production quality has gone up a lot, games in general are a lot more accessible then they were when I first got started. I even think that's true comparing 2016 to 2002.
Yeah, some of the games that got me started then our games that I would use to introduce people to boardgames now, like Catan or Carcassonne. But you can find those games in stores like Target now and people have discovered them on their mobile.
I don't think I would go so far as to say that gaming is as mainstream as football but it has come a long way.
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