So I've been, as stated in previous posts, a gamer for about 25 years. Of the Tabletop RPG genres, I've played 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons once. I've played various GURPS settings, Shadowrun, Earthdawn, assorted Old World of Darkness games, Rolemaster, and Torg. I've played a bit of Champions, a couple games of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and one memorable game of Macho Women with Guns. So I've certainly played my share.
But note above: I have played D&D once. And it was 2nd edition. I have also played a number of D&D video games - Temple of Elemental Evil, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate - in a very desultory fashion, usually in trying to reproduce a bug so I could know what I was talking about when writing FAQs. And I read several Dragonlance novels as a teenager and young adult.
So when I came into possession of the first six books about Drizzt Do'Urden, one of the very few Good Drow (not always nice. Good does not equal Nice. But he's Good), I decided to read them. I was very surprised by how much about the Forgotten Realms (the setting in which the Drizzt books take place) I actually knew already. I knew who Drizzt was, in basic terms. I knew what Drow were, and the basics of their racial makeup and social mores and magical systems. I knew about their city of Menzoberranzan and the basics of its political structure.
How did I pick all this up? Osmosis from hanging out with D&D gamers? (I do work with a bunch of them, and I've often played other games with them) References in other works? (I did spend a while perusing Order of the Stick and buying things like this infant bodysuit). Just general knowledge of High Fantasy and its ilk? Who knows? But for me, facts like that are pop culture. Just a smaller culture than Mainstream American