Despite Dungeons & Dragons being a popular property among board game enthusiasts for decades, being a fan of the series can come with a negative stigma, which True Blood and Magic Mike XXL star Joe Manganiello thinks is dissipating thanks to Stranger Things. The actor is a big fan of the role-playing game, with his own interest in the series being enough to change the perceptions of the people who play the game, while the Netflix show's '80s setting offers the heroes multiple opportunities to engage with the game, reminding audiences that its fantastical components are much more engaging than one might think.
"I think Stranger Things hitting the zeitgeist the way that it did, becoming as popular as it did in mainstream culture so that the mainstream was asking those questions, 'Well what is that and what are those kids doing?'" Manganiello shared with ComicBook.com. "'Oh, is that Dungeons & Dragons? How do you do that? What is that?' And so I think that really helped, and then I think the other side of it is I think when people see that maybe people that they didn't think played, openly saying that they did, I think that just eradicates the stigma."
From the first scenes of the series, viewers witness the adolescent protagonists embarking on a quest and using the game as an analogy for the horrors the characters were suffering.
With Manganiello regularly expressing his excitement for the game, he explained that people have now begun to approach him to confess their admiration for the series like it's a dark secret.
"Nowadays I'll go to studio meetings with executives and I'll walk in and we're there to talk about some project and they'll close the door and then make sure it's locked and they'll come over and say, 'So I used to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was a kid,'" the actor recalled. "'Do you think I could come over?' It's like people are coming out to me in secret, but I think it's fun because when I was a kid, if you said you played, you were opening up the door to scrutiny that maybe you did not want to invite in, that you were maybe gonna get into a fight on the playground. I definitely stood up for kids that played. I definitely stood up for myself. There were fights that I got in, arguments that I got into over it because it had this weird stigma and I'm glad to see that that's been lifted and I'm glad, I'm happy to think that I had something to do with it."
The upcoming Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus will be released on September 19th and feature a character created by Manganiello. Pre-orders are live now.