I’ve been a Dungeons and Dragons player for a long time. Like any other passion, the game has come in and out of my focus over the last 25+ years; sometimes just to check out how it has changed, and sometimes to dive in and roll some dice.
Obviously, I’m not unique in this. Many of us have “outgrown” things in our past – pushing them aside to make room for spouses, kids, jobs, and other interests. I don’t build model cars any longer – nor rockets. I am still a “Lego fanatic” yet haven’t built with them for years. I haven’t recently ‘played’ with many of those toys that I coveted SO much in my youth.
Yet D&D still calls to me.
So Eric and I opened a game store. We talk up D&D and role-playing. I express my sincere belief that kids will find that D&D is cool and exciting, despite (or perhaps because of) the huge number of video game options – all which seem to really be “much of the same” with better graphics, more challenging bad guys, or more ‘realism’. I believe – in these days wherein the computers and consoles, cell phones and netflix are so ubiquitous – that a fundamental part of our “human-ness” is being denied.
These games that we play on our computers, our consoles, our portable gaming machines – they all share one thing in common. You – as player – are participating in a forgone conclusion. The boundaries of the game, while vast, are always there – and are easy for us as the smart human player to perceive.
Role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons have no set boundaries. None.
I believe it is this single simple observation that defines why – as humans – we need things like D&D. More so now than ever – since our opportunities to exercise our imagination are become harder and harder to find. We as a society are so wrapped up in schedules and after-school programs, teleconferences and soccer practice that we’ve – collectively – lost sight of an important growth step for kids and adults alike.
Dreaming without bounds.
In a fascinating essay titled “How Dungeons and Dragons Changed My Life”, Salon author Ethan Gilsdorf writes about how he himself has experienced first-hand the return to the days of D&D. In this article he maintains that Dungeons and Dragons is more “at home” now than it was when it was first released – ahead of it’s time if you will. I encourage you to read his piece as he does a much better job conveying this idea than I do.
If nothing, I hope this will encourage at least one person out there to try something new (or perhaps old, yet neglected)- play a role-playing game. Don’t worry about what others will think; don’t fret about the “odds”; forget your homework or deadlines for an evening. Try picking the lock of that guard-tower. Hotwire the controls of that computer-controlled feeding console to make the alien ambassador sick. Plant some evidence on your informant to make her the scapegoat. Don’t worry about winning, losing or finishing. Lose yourself in the story
Consider this stuff the Bowflex for your brain.