Sunday marked the 40th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons, a game which has played a major role in shaping who I am and who I have become. Just what is Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D for short) for those who may not be familiar with the game? It is what would be termed these days as an old school pencil, paper and dice game. It is a game which takes place within a fantasy world as created by the Dungeon Master (the one who runs the game), or by way of a pre established gaming moduel with which the Dungeon Master employs to run the various players through the adventure. The object of the game is open to any number of particular goals, such as rescuing a princess, saving a town from foul monsters, seeking a powerful magical item to help defeat some nefarious wizard locked away within his mage tower. Oftentimes, the game is played over a long stretch of time, months, ever perhaps years in terms of a longstanding campaigns that both DM and players engage in.
What are some of the ways in which D&D has had such a vast influence and impact upon my life? From a simple standpoint, I would not have made the tight-knit friends that I have now. Starting from the early days when I played in grammar school, through the years I worked at trader Joe’s or those now who I have the enjoyment of playing with and establishing new friendships. So it truly has been a means for me of getting outside of myself and being social. I have been both enriched and blessed with lasting, inseparable friends, who have played (no pun intended) such an significant and impactful part of my life.
Moreover, Dungeons and Dragons allowed for the means by which to promote and contribute to the development of my imagination to flourish. It opened up vistas of new mythical lands, fanciful creatures, unusual races, which all were envisioned within my mind as related by the Dungeon Master, who as the game proceeds, describes to us what we as the players see and or experience within the game setting. Much like how a book works upon the readers imagination, so to does each player create a visualization of what is taking place. So for example, the Dungeon Master might relate to the party that we “see a passageway before you, enshrouded within a grey hazy mist…you can hear some faint foot steps echoing off the stone walls, ominously coming before you.”
Oh ho! What are we going to do as a party now? One had better think fast, and adapt, improvise and overcome the various challenges and trails that the DM puts before us.
Thus, D&D has also helped in promoting good critical thinking. The game in one sense is all about problem solving. How are you and or your party going to come up with solutions that need to be achieved in order to be successful within the campaign or the particular quest you are on. Oftentimes, it serves best to “think outside the box.” I still find this to be a good mental challenge, for it forces me to approach things in a way that is oftentimes outside my particular mode of analytical reasoning.
What’s more, D&D also taught me how to work within a group dynamic, especially in light of the fact that not all players are always as kind hearted or as altruistic as you would like them to be. How do I adapt to people who act or think differently than I do, how do I still be respectful while fulfilling the personal goals of my particular character I am playing? How best to work towards achieving the party’s goals with others who also have different personas, motivations and aspirations than I do? There are different approaches to worthing (and playing) with others. D&D is certainly a terrific teacher in how to both play with others and adapt to others may be different thank you.
In thinking upon the much grander, larger scale impact that D&D has had, one must recognize the very tangible reality that it is responsible for so many fantasy novels, films and of course computer games such as World of Warcraft, which for those who are regular followers of my WoW blog know how much I am fond of playing.
Lastly, as a game it is just plain and simply fun!
Life can and often is quite difficult, which goes without saying, so taking some time out to hang out for an afternoon or evening with good friends and going forth upon an adventure to slay dragons, save a besieged village, gain wondrous magical items and prodigious amounts of gold and this to become a heroic figure having a profound impact upon the people and vast lands who wouldn’t want to partake in that? It is an “escapism” from the trails and tribulations of life, where you can role-play a totally different character than what you are within real life. Hanging out with your friends, having story telling time, out seeking misadventures and feats of heroic deeds, while enjoying some slices of take out pizza is what makes playing D&D so great!
Gaming is one of the defining aspects of who I am. Am I a great gamer? Not by a long shot. I still am learning how to game, even after all of these years. I still am learning what the rules are and how best to play my character class. That is one of the really cool aspects about gaming, is that it always allows for learning, developing and growing. That is exactly what it means to be alive and proceeding through this particular life of ours.
From my vantage point, D&D has been such a profound and wondrous means to grow as a person and to learn from others, while establishing and possessing such good, dear friends, how can I not have anything but positivity to write about when it comes to D&D!
It goes without saying, but I reckon I shall regardless, it will be a hobby of mine that I will continue with for hopefully many more years to come.
Here is an article detailing the history of D&D:
Link: When Dungeons & Dragons Turns 40
Here is an interesting video on the history of D&D:
Link: A History of D&D In 12 Treasures
(Gary Gygix, one of the primary creators of D&D…”requiescat in pace”)