So apparently D&D is super popular again.
Anecdotally, I know that in the past year or three, I can say I play D&D to someone and they at least kind of know what it is, rather than getting the blank stare I used to get in years past.
There are swelling sales numbers and surveys that show that D&D has attracted a much more diverse crowd than was perceived in the past. There are podcasts. Celebrities play D&D for an audience. People watch each other play D&D on Twitch...which I do not understand, at all, but maybe that's just the mid-thirties guy in me talking. The point is, D&D has definitely become pop culture. I'd hardly call it mainstream, but the exposure is definitely higher.
Another anecdote: back in 2015 or 16, I saw the D&D starter set on the shelf at Target. Target. The closest thing I'd ever seen to gaming stuff in a big box store is the anemic gaming section at Barnes & Noble.
Of course, this is mostly all news generated by 5th edition. That makes sense: it's the current edition, it has stuff coming out for it pretty regularly, the art direction exudes inclusiveness.
The 5th edition of D&D does very little for me. I ran it for several months, played in a Princes of the Apocalypse campaign for close to a year. I don't hate 5e. I don't dislike it. It's just... fine. It doesn't excite me like the older editions do. There's just some factor that doesn't pop for me the way it seems to with others.
I understand that 5th edition is valuable for the future of the hobby, in that it is highly visible and very good for recruiting new players. I like that the days of the chainmail bikini are over with. I'm glad that gaming is a more diverse hobby.
I also have a feeling I'm going to let this new wave pass me by. Like I said, my heart isn't in 5th edition, but I feel a strange sort of obligation to participate in it somehow for some sort of vague "greater good" that may or may not exist.
The games I want to play are BECMI D&D or some clone of it...Stars Without Number... Zweihander. A few small indie games that have snagged my interest. Lamentations. I've found that gathering players for these games has been an intensely frustrating and often fruitless experience. I could have three 5th edition groups rolling by next Sunday if I so chose. (Whether they'd stay rolling is certainly up for question, but I could get them going, I have no doubt)
So here's where I'm at: I understand that it's far easier to get 5th edition going, to find players, and to find games... and I understand 5th edition's value in making sure this weird hobby of ours continues on, but goddamn do I pine for a group of people sitting around the table while I run from my brand new POD copy of the Cyclopedia, or my moldering old AD&D "orange spine" books, or SWN/SWN2, or... really, just about anything else.
I've kept my 5th edition core books and GM screen, just in case. I may well break down and run it again. I may well play it again. I'd just rather be doing other things.