Dungeons and Dragons lovers are flocking to Burnley as game's popularity soars

Women Who D&D founders Amy Goldslack and Kirsty Lauder
Women Who D&D founders Amy Goldslack and Kirsty Lauder -Credit:Andy Ford

Dungeons and Dragons, the cult role-playing table top fantasy game, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In Burnley, workshops called Women Who D&D, run by founders Kirsty Lauder and Amy Goldslack, are contributing to the game's growing popularity.

According to Eventbrite, a global events marketplace, the number of Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) related events in the UK has more than tripled (+248%) over the past five years (2018 to 2023). References to Dungeons and Dragons are prevalent in contemporary pop culture.

The game was featured in the globally popular Netflix series, Stranger Things, appeared on the US sitcom The Big Bang Theory, and The Simpsons. Moreover, Baldur's Gate 3, the surprise gaming hit and Game of the Year winner of 2023, is based on the D&D rule set.


D&D, originally designed as a table top fantasy game for groups by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974, has expanded into computer games, merchandise, books, and movies. Over the last five years, more than 11,000 people have attended D&D events hosted on Eventbrite in the UK.

However, the fantasy game is enjoyed worldwide, with events hosted on the platform in 32 countries, including Italy, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bahrain, Iceland, the Philippines, and Japan. Kirsty Lauder, co-founder of Women Who D&D, runs a monthly workshop to teach the basics of the game.

Kirsty said: "Dungeons and Dragons, for us, has been an incredible tool for meeting new people and building a community. Women Who D&D is passionate about bringing people from all walks of life to the game table who thought they didn't previously have a place.

Women Who D&D run a popular event in Burnley
Women Who D&D run a popular event in Burnley -Credit:Andy Ford

"As we've introduced the game to more and more women, fem presenting, and non-binary people through our games and workshops, an amazing community has been born from it of fem players of varying skill levels wanting to get involved and lend support to people wherever it's needed."

One attendee of these workshops, Katie Dwyer from Preston, said: "The previous group I played in was in a pub and full of males I didn't know, so it was difficult to muster up the confidence to attend. Then somebody told me about Women Who D&D and I thought I'd give it a shot. It was fantastic to meet such a diverse group of women enjoying the game."

"I love games with more combat and dice rolling than getting dressed up. For me, it's about being immersive and in the moment."

Dungeons and Dragons celebrates its 50th birthday this year
Dungeons and Dragons celebrates its 50th birthday this year -Credit:Andy Ford

"I'd never heard of Dungeons & Dragons until five years ago when I saw the game on Big Bang Theory and Stranger Things. I had always thought it was too geeky for me but I got over myself.

"I went to a workshop for beginners that opened my eyes. Regardless of your age, background, job or personality, Dungeons & Dragons sessions provide a place to be able to tell a story and play a game without being judged. I'm currently in three campaigns and outside of work I spend half my week doing something D&D."

Sebastian Boppert from Eventbrite commented: "Dungeons and Dragons' appeal is unbroken. It seems that everyone is getting painfully aware that we are spending far too much time staring at screens every day.

"And in that context, D&D's unique mix of getting friends together around a table to become whoever they want to be, venture through fantasy worlds, fight monsters and collect treasure, seems to appeal to more and more audiences across the UK irrespective of age, gender, race, or ability. And it's very fulfilling to do our part to help bring these people together IRL to enjoy their hobby."

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