One Nissan Rogue dealer is reporting an influx of new customers as the growing popularity of a certain tabletop game draws drivers to the brand. At first, Nissan dealer Chris Mizzoni was confused by the sudden influx of Dorito-stained buyers coming into the dealership to test drive the brand’s compact crossover SUV, but his teenage son quickly explained the appeal. “I guess the Rogue is a popular character class in Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t know what half of those words mean because I actually had a girlfriend in high school, but hey, sales are sales,” says Mizzoni.
Created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, Dungeons & Dragons (or “D&D” if you’re a fedora-wearing neckbeard) has long been popular amongst nerds, dweebs, and losers of all stripes. The game allows players to create their own characters from scratch, choosing their abilities, equipment, and backstory before setting off on a fantasy adventure overseen by an experienced Dungeon Master. A D&D character’s class goes a long way in determining their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses with Rogue representing one of 12 potential classes that also includes Clerics, Monks, Paladins, Wizards, and Bards.
Once confined to AV rooms and suburban basements, the roleplaying game has exploded in popularity in recent years as a new generation of virgins has discovered the joys of binging on junk food while one person furiously leafs through a thick guidebook to parse the rules. The pandemic-related lockdown was a boon to the fantasy tabletop game, which saw sales explode by 33 percent in 2020 as part of a larger six-year growth streak. The game has also featured heavily in the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things,” widening the appeal among those whose previous experience in the world of fantasy entertainment was limited to falling asleep during hour three of “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers.”
In D&D lore, the Rogue is a versatile character capable of sneaky combat and nimble tricks. While the class’ stealthy and dexterous reputation pairs well with Nissan’s agile compact crossover, the brand denies any correlation. In fact, when asked if the Rogue nameplate was intended to draw fans of the game to the auto brand, a Nissan representative replied with a terse, “Ew, no.” Mizzoni says the new D&D-obsessed buyers have forced him to rethink his sales approach. While the dealership had long found success in pairing its single male customers with attractive female salespeople, the strategy proved less effective with the Rogue buyers.
“We had three customers in a row suffer an asthma attack as soon as Tracey made eye contact with them, and having a sweaty guy rolling around the sales floor in an ‘I’m Not Antisocial, I Just Rolled Low On Charisma’ t-shirt just isn’t good for business,” says Mizzoni. “We actually roped Jeff from IT into a sales role for the time being. He seems to speak their language and doesn’t really mind the smell.”
The rise in D&D’s popularity could lead some automakers to embrace other character classes for their own forthcoming models. Ford is well-poised to take advantage of the trend with its Ranger pickup already sharing a name with another D&D class. That said, some classes are obvious non-starters for automotive pairings. “Barbarian would be a great name for a full-size truck, and Paladin sounds sort of noble and stately, but I just can’t see rolling around town in a Nissan Sorcerer, and I think it would be tough to find a reasonable insurance rate for any car with ‘Fighter’ in the name,” Mizzoni says.
Eager to embrace the trend and drum up sales in an uncertain market, the Nissan dealer has introduced a number of promotions and perks designed to welcome the D&D set. So far, the dealership has replaced all water coolers with Mountain Dew and set up a crossbow range in the employee parking lot, but Mizzoni is always eager for suggestions. “We’re even considering teaming up with the optometrist across the street to offer free glasses polishing kits with every test drive,” he says.