Dungeons & Dragons is community theatre.
Like your Dungeons & Dragons game, if you bring up your community theatre production of Romeo and Juliet at Thanksgiving, the best you can expect is a condescending “oh that’s nice” and a thin smile from your homophobic aunt. And stripped down to its essentials, any roleplaying game is about embodying characters—you know, playing roles—and using the game’s structure to tell stories about those characters. It’s theatre made for the gratification of the performers, rather than the approval of an audience, which is pure and good as hell.
I love Dungeons & Dragons. Like many young dweebs, I came to D&D after playing fantasy video games for years. It was like magic—compared to video games, the freedom given to me as a player in D&D felt infinite. But after several years of playing weird, unfulfilling D&D campaigns, I started to see the limitations of the game. Because while you technically can do almost anything in Dungeons & Dragons, there are some things that the game wants you to do more than others.