Culture

In Defense of Dungeons & Dragons

 

A D&D session probably calls to mind the following: a group of overweight, awkward men who have no social lives. They spend weeks locked in a parent’s basement, blissfully unaware of reality.

But that is not the case.

Some famous people speak fondly of their experience with D&D. Jonah Goldberg referenced it in his latest piece for National Review Online:

Washington is full of nerds. I know. I speak nerd — not fluently, mind you, at least not anymore. But I certainly know more than a few phrases memorized from a Berlitz nerd-to-English phrase book. I can talk Dungeons & Dragons (both D&D and AD&D). I know about the Golden Age of Comics (as in comic books — if you thought that was a reference to Bob Newhart’s heyday, subtract 20 nerd points right there).

The game is essentially improvisational theater. The player crafts his avatar and he must dive into his character’s soul. Most stories, which are crafted by the Dungeon Master, involve quests which look something like The Lord of the Rings. A group of different people have come together in order to solve a problem. If they can’t get past their differences, then the mission will fail.

Most people, however, don’t take the game too seriously. And, if played with a group of friends, then the game can be hilarious.

Now’s the time to give D&D a second chance: Wizards has announced that the game’s fifth edition will be tentatively play-tested May 24th. They utilized player input in crafting new rules, characters, and classes. But they also attempted to further streamline the game in order to maximize the experience.

The release is important because there would be no video games without Dungeons and Dragons. As Mike Mearls notes on the Wizards website:

D&D is more than just a set of rules for fantasy gaming. It launched an entire gaming genre and played a pivotal role in creating the entirety of the gaming industry, both analog and digital. The game has lived and thrived because it has awoken a spark of creation, visions of daring adventure, wondrous vistas, and untold horrors that pull us all together as a community of RPG fans. It is the countless players and DMs who have brought it to life over the years. The game is at its best when it is yours.

Anyone interested in gaming should try it at least once. Forget the stereotypes. Grab some friends, create fascinating characters, craft a story, grab a few beers, and you’ll have a wonderful weekend. To wit:  some of my best memories in college involved Dungeons and Dragons.

And yes, I still went to parties, had relationships, and made many friends.

*Correction: A previous version of this post erroneously noted that Wizards would release the Fifth Edition on May 24.