I think the real difference between when I started playing RPGs and now is that back then, nobody (except a very few thousand people in the whole world) actually knew what an RPG was. Let me tell you a story.
A few years ago my kids were playing with Lego. They had each built a small community of figures (and their houses), who were “mining” the pile of Lego and trading bricks with each other. Eventually a disagreement led to a declaration of hostilities between the two communities, and then between the two children as one of them claimed the other’s action (I can’t recall the specifics) was unfair.
At this point I intervened, explaining that when there is a disagreement in “grownups’ games of let’s pretend” they often roll dice to work out who’s idea gets into the story. And soon I was explaining the basics of Fate Accelerated.
I didn’t create two gamers then. Yes we played a few actual games. But my daughter didn’t carry on. The boy retains an interest, but it’s not as all consuming as it was for me. But what’s important is that it was for him and his sister, presented as something “normal” like, for example, playing an instrument, or football.
Laying games was fun when I was a kid, but as teenagers, my friends and I suffered mockery and bullying from our peers. I could have done without that. And it seems this generation of gamers don’t suffer the same derision.