Once a week for an hour at a time, 12-year-old Elijah Zachary transforms from a regular sixth-grade student into a Dungeon Master. Together with two other friends from school, he navigates a complex world of medieval-inspired heroes and monsters in an exciting game of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).
Before the pandemic, Elijah and his D&D group met at the library or in the park— but over the past year, the action unfolds virtually over Zoom. “My son has been really isolated from other kids, and there had been so little going on in their locked-down lives,” says his mother, Alissa. “He and his friends didn’t have much to talk about—until they had the game.”
Elijah is part of a growing group of kids and adults who have discovered the world of role-playing games (RPGs). Once considered the province of the uber-nerdy, RPGs are going mainstream. Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast—which owns popular games like D&D and Magic, The Gathering—raked in $816 million in 2020, a 24 percent increase from 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal. Plus, D&D revenue was up 33 percent in 2020 alone.