Desiree Schell, the host of the very entertaining and thought-provoking Skeptically Speaking. Desiree wants to know, “How many dice rolls in all the role-playing games in an average year?”
Judging from my fairly eclectic group of friends, I would estimate that about 1% of people play role-playing games fairly consistently1. By “consistently”, I mean they play about once a week or about 50 times per year. I’m assuming the majority of players play consistently. Games will differ in how often a player rolls, but it’s not uncommon for a player to roll about 1000 times2. From this, we can easily compute the number of rolls in an average year:
# of rolls = (fraction of players) · (# of people) · (rolls per player per game) · (# of games)
= (0.01 players/person) · (6.7×109 people) · (1000 rolls/player/games) · (50 games)
= 3.4×1012 rolls
That’s 3.4 trillion rolls. If you add up the gravitational potential energy from all these rolls, it’s about a third of the energy released by a nuclear bomb. Thanks for the question, Desiree!
You can hear Desiree on Skeptically Speaking Fridays at 6pm MST, or you can follow her and the show on Twitter at @teh_skeptic and @SkepticalRadio, respectively.
 Some might quibble with my 1% assumption. I would argue it’s a good order of magnitude estimate. If I chose 10 people at random, there’s a good chance none of them are into role-playing, so the actual number is almost certainly less than 10%. However, if I go through 1000 people at random, there’s almost certainly going to be one person into role-playing, so it’s probably greater than 0.1%.
 I cheated a little here. This number seemed much too large, but I consulted my friend Josh who is more into gaming than I am, and he assured me that it’s a good estimate. Thinking back to my days playing Risk (where you roll multiple dice for hours), I figured it’s good to within an order of magnitude.