I have been reading for some time a book about Dungeons and Dragons called the Elfish Gene. I was drawn to the book as it is one mans struggle with his obsession with the aforementioned game. I too had an obsession with the game so as kindred spirits I sought out his knowledge of the addiction and how he felt it impacted his life. Reading the book has brought to light several things that have made me stop and think. Why did I like D&D so much? What drew me to it? So, now it has given birth to this blog in which I will share my revelations about the game.
The most prevalent reason I can think of for why I played D&D was it gave me an outlet for my imagination. At its very heart D&D is a game of imagination. There are really no pieces or game boards. Everything in D&D is wrought out of the pure specter of imagination. As a young man I had an overactive imagination, like so many. D&D offered me a chance to use that imagination to create something for the enjoyment of others. I had no real artistic talent. I was unable to draw, I had put my brief acting career on hold, and I was no lead singer for a rock band let me tell you. So in lieu of honing any of those talents that I did not have, I chose to create dungeons, adventures, characters, new spells and items for my players. As a dungeon master I was able to hone that imagination into an actual craft and make things that I was proud of.
Secondly, D&D gave me something that I think every youth longs for: a peer group. Through D&D I was able to meet people who shared my taste for the fantastical, praised me for my imagination, and always challenged me to go further with it than I ever would have on my own. I also made a ton of friends, first within my own high school and hometown and later throughout the state and even the world. The friends I made playing D&D were every bit as imaginative and creative as I was, some more so. I admired many of them greatly and still hold them in high regard. They are some of the brightest people I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. To this day, D&D is still a bonding point for me. If I meet someone and find out later that they played D&D my opinion of them usually goes up significantly.
Finally, D&D gave me confidence. I admit to being a tad timid when I was a teenager. I lacked self confidence and certainly faded into the wallpaper whenever possible. D&D was no place for the meek and timid. The characters you were forced to play were either strong in word and deed or they would soon meet their end. If a D&D character was quiet then he was being introspective and that was totally cool. I credit the game itself with making me confident. It forced me to carry a bit of it over into the real world. Gradually as I put more and more of myself into the scenarios and dungeons I created the positive feedback I would receive from them would go directly into making me more confident. I am not sure where I would be confidence wise today if it were not for those games with my friends.
In closing, I encourage any would be gamers out there to give D&D a try. It’s morphed and changed over the years but at its heart beats the same fundamental thing, imagination. We here at the Gothic are going to make a point of stocking some of the rulebooks and I would direct any fellow Dukies to their gaming club, Dagger. In a world filled with MMORPGS and IPods, where everything is accessible via YouTube or Wikipedia, don’t we really need a little more imagination afoot?