When it originally launched, group-gathering website Meetup.com became a haven for witches. No, not people who played a certain spellcasting class in a video game or young women obsessed with the movie Hocus Pocus. Actual witches, practitioners of Wicca. Nowadays Meetup still helps witches all over the world find one another. They also just happen to have grown into a platform that connects people of all kinds of beliefs and interests. Perhaps one of the most natural fits for Meetup is Dungeons & Dragons.
I personally was surprised to see the name Meetup appear on the list of sponsors for Lost Odyssey: The Book of Knowledge. The event was a live D&D show that benefitted the Autism Society of America. Meetup had a table there among several other sponsors, all of which sold tabletop product. There was a vendor selling pride dice, a maker of Dungeon Master guides, and a local game store that had all of the latest D&D books. Then there was Meetup, giving out themed t-shirts and dice bags.
I organize my games on social media. My local game store also has a Discord group. That's always worked for me. I get notifications whenever a new event is going down, and I can message my party or DM with any questions or input. So what's the point of Meetup in the social media age? I asked the crew at the booth this exact question.
The point, according to Meetup, is getting people offline. While social media can be a useful tool for keeping in contact. It can also be a crutch. Modern politics show clearly how easy it is for anyone to find a like-minded group on social media and stick with them. I realized it can be the same with Dungeons & Dragons groups. Have I been sticking with the same rotating cast of D&D friends because it's convenient? Could meeting a new party lead to other, more wild adventures?
Meetup is all about getting people together in real life. The online part just facilitates the, well, meetup. So the platform is very into being a place where D&D groups can find that oh-so-elusive DM so they can actually get together. In October alone, Meetup helped 4,300 D&D events happen. To break it down further, Meetup says it facilitates over 1,200 weekly campaigns. I'm happy when I get to play once a month.
It's a stretch to say Meetup is the future of Dungeons & Dragons. Social media and Roll20 have their hooks in the hobby as well. It's more like Meetup has always been there. The platform is from a time when witches gathered in covens, after all (so about 2002). Meetup will probably still be here for us adventurers for a long time.