RPP-450: Roleplaying is a Pastime

Roleplaying Philosophy Series:

Deadorc's Question
Deadorc’s Question

I’m officially dedicating this week at Labs to Deadorcs. In the same  Twitter discussion that inspired my last article, Randall Walker of Initiative or What asked a question:

deadorcs: So the question becomes: How do you make #dnd a “pastime” instead of a niche game? What social machinery has to be activated to make it so?

During the course of the discussion, Randall states D&D should (or asks how it could) transcend the status of hobby to be more ingrained in the culture, like grilling or going to the beach (two activities he cites as pastimes).

I believe that D&D, and roleplaying games in general, already are pastimes. Hobbies are inherently pastimes, if that’s what you usually do. To fully understand what I am about to say, we need to define pastime:

What is a pas·time?

noun /ˈpasˌtīm/

  1. An activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby[1]
  2. Something that serves to make time pass agreeably; a pleasant means of amusement, recreation, or sport.[2]
  3. Something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably.[3]

From the above definitions, I think we can reasonably say that all pastimes are hobbies, but not all hobbies are pastimes. The trait that separates the two is frequency. Looking at the first definition, a pastime is something someone does regularly.

A National Pastime

What’s missing from Randall’s tweet, and what I think he’s getting at, is a social spectrum qualifier. What would make D&D a <insert community level here> pastime? Much like baseball is referred to as the “national pastime.”

So what would it take for D&D to become a national pastime? It’s hard to put hard requirements down because there are lots of variables. Recognition, intimate knowledge, and acceptance all play major roles (and maybe seasonal shelf space at Wal-Mart). I suppose A-list celebrities might help. But the complexities, requirements, and buy-in of D&D are too great for this too ever happen.

Pastime is Subjective

In the end, I came to the conclusion that, for the most part, pastimes are determined by the individual. I certainly do not consider beach-going or baseball pastimes (or probably many things other people do). My pastimes are playing RPGs, drawing, and shooting firearms (all usually while drinking beer and listening to metal).

D&D is a pastime; whether or not it’s recognized at a specified cultural level is irrelevant to me.

Mad Brew's Rresponse
Mad Brew’s Response
Listening to: Metalocalypse – Dethalbum II – Symmetry


[1] The definition of pastime via Google.
[2] The definition of pastime via Dicionary.com.
[3] The definition of pastime via Merriam-Webster.

2 thoughts on “RPP-450: Roleplaying is a Pastime

  1. I agree that D&D is already a passtime. Just like baseball; not everyone plays it, but almost everyone knows what it is.
    So, what separates a passtime from a lifestyle? I know a few people who play D&D so much. If they aren’t working or sleeping , they are playing D&D. Actually I have been at a few games where players do “work” on their laptops, or sleep during their game.


  2. The key that separate pastimes from lifestyle is external influence. If a subject matter influences a majority of decisions you make, then that subject matter has become a lifestyle.

    For instance, if a subject matter determines the clothing you wear, the things you eat & drink, your decorative choices, the music you listen to, events that you attend, and how you spend most of your non-work time, then that is a lifestyle.

    Indeed, if a subject matter disrupts your life in that you no longer make decisions based on logic, then a lifestyle becomes an addiction.

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