I don’t know whether one person’s perspective is useful here or not, but my own life is the thing I can speak most authoritatively about. Here’s what my RPG life is currently like...
I have a regular group of family and friends. We plan to meet every Saturday, though we don’t get a quorum every week. (We’re lucky if we can all get together even one Saturday in December.) The group currently ranges in age from 14 to to near 50 with representatives from every decade in between. Four women and five men. (And about four members who are currently inactive due to work schedules and other issues.)
We’re currently playing 1981-vintage D&D, but we just came off a 2003-vintage D&D campaign, and there is a current (5e) D&D game in planning. We play a lot of other RPGs besides D&D as well.
We mostly meet face-to-face, but these days it isn’t uncommon to have one or two people attend digitally via Google Hangouts. We plug a laptop into a TV and have a decent video-conferencing camera.
Once a year I go to an “old school” gaming convention called North Texas RPG Con. The whole family goes with me now. We each play in up to eight face-to-face games. Mostly older RPGs or newer ones more in the “old school” vein. I’ve been surprised by how well playing with strangers has gone. Although, at this point, it is getting harder to call other regular attendees strangers.
I’ve been invited to join at least three other local groups. I’ve lost count of how many online games I’ve been invited to. But I’m lucky that I don’t have enough time for all the RPGaming opportunities I have available.
I’d say there are two big differences from my old high school RPG days:
- More maturity in the group means—generally—a different dynamic. (Although there are times when the adults are being less mature and the teens are being more mature.)
- Over the years I’ve learned a lot more about the games, what I enjoy, and what others in the group enjoy. All of which helps inform how I approach things. (And there is still more for me to learn.)
Update: Another difference...
These days I get all my RPG books in digital format and use them on my iPad.
When I’m playing, my character sheet may be paper (usually the simpler systems) or a spreadsheet or app on the iPad (usually the more complex systems).
When running games, most of my campaign notes are digital accessed on the iPad during play. Ephemeral notes during play will be made on notecards. Maps are sometimes digital and sometimes paper. And I’ll usually have some hard-copy quick-reference sheets too.
I always use physical dice.
I’ve never been much of a fan of miniatures, battlemats, terrain, etc. But I have been using them more as some players really want visual aids. My current go-to is some generic pawns/meeples and a product called Blue Dungeon Tiles. But I’m still experimenting.
It varies for other people in the group. Some use laptops extensively, some use tablets or phones, some use paper, some use a mix.