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Table Top Role Playing Game Comunity Exhibit: Introduction

Microculture and Fandom

A Microculture is defined as a small group of people in industrial society that form a specialized group. Microcultures are differentiated from older forms of culture due to their specialized nature, meaning that members will be parts of larger cultural groups and other Microcultural groups.

Microcultures have existed for a long time, but in the modern day Microcultures have become more and more important to the day-to-day life of the average person. This is due to Mass Media, which has allowed Microcultures to extend much farther than they would have before. Social media has been an even larger boon for this, creating tight knit communities that span the world, just by creating connections regardless of physical location.

While religions, social clubs, and other cultural phenomenon could be forms of large Microcultures, one of the most interesting is Fandom. Fandoms are the collection of people who enjoy a specific piece or form of media and spend time discussing it together. The Star Trek and Star Wars fandoms are great examples, holding large conventions and adopting pieces of language and lingo incomprehensible to outsiders. Still, sometimes how long fandom has been around can surprise you. The first, and still oldest, Sifi Convention was heald in 1939 New York.

Tabletop Gaming Community

One of these fandoms is the Tabletop Gaming Community. Tabletop Gaming is a small portion of the gaming community that focuses on games that do not need any extra equipment to play. This is separate from the Video Game community, which focuses on games that require a computer, console, or other electronic devise to play. While tabletop games can and often do have additional simplifying elements that use electronics, they are not required to play the game.

The major subsets of the Tabletop Gaming community are:

  • Classic Board Games: Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk, Clue

  • Modern Board Games

    • Board-based War Games: ​Twilight Imperium, Dune

    • Euro-games: Settlers of Katan, Ticket to Ride

    • Party Games: One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Cards against Humanity

  • Collectible Trading Card Games​: Magic the Gathering, Yugioh​, Pokémon​

  • Miniature-based War Games: Warhammer 40k, Star Wars Miniatures

  • Pen and Paper Role Playing Games: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Fate

Interestingly, a few groups are mostly exclusive with the tabletop gaming community. Gambling Games and old-style games tend to be parts of their own community. Your unlikely to see poker, blackjack, chess, or go represented in a gaming platform unless it is tied into more modern games like the ones mentioned.

These games are all played through pieces on a table. They can get as complicated as thousands of miniatures, and as simple as a few scraps of paper you write down on. Among these one of the hardest to get into are Tabletop, or Pen and Paper, Role Playing Games. 

Sure, Miniature based games and Collectable Card games are both very expensive to get into, especially to become competitive in. However, it is relatively easy to find a group to play with in those hobbies. There are regular meet-ups in game shops or other places, whereas RPGs require much more commitment to play.

Tabletop Gaming Conventions

One of the most fascinating things fandoms have done is adopt the concept of a convention. Originally, conventions were mainly collections of people in the same job or part of the same organization, religious or otherwise. However, starting with Star Trek and Comic conventions, the convention has become almost synonymous with the concept of fandom.
Tabletop Gaming is no exception, and there are a few major conventions dedicated to the small oblique hobby. In most conventions you will find a space dedicated to Tabletop Games, a place where people can play together and enjoy their company while enjoying a shared secondary enjoyment. However, Tabletop Gaming has it's own conventions as well.

One of the most important of these is PAX Unplugged. Pax Unplugged is an extension of the Pax gaming convention, which has been one of the largest gaming conventions in the world for the last decade. Pax was started by the authors of Webcomic Penny Arcade. PAX Unplugged on the other hand is dedicated solely to one type of game, Tabletop Games. Pax Unplugged is here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, every year at the Philadelphia Convention Hall.

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