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Role Playing (Games) Games

Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the roll-for-initiative dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This year is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Dungeons & Dragons, and it's getting a lot of mainstream attention. Long-time and former players are examining the game's influence and its legacy, even as it's being introduced to yet another generation of kids. "For countless players, Dungeons & Dragons redirected teen-age miseries and energies that might have been put to more destructive uses. How many depressed and lonely kids turned away from suicide because they found community and escape in role-playing games? How many acts of bullying or vandalism were sublimated into dice-driven combat? ... How many underage D.U.I.s never came to pass because spell tables were being consulted late into the night?" Meanwhile, as people who played the game long ago have grown into adults producing their own works, our culture has reaped the benefits of D&D's influence. "The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the 'weird fiction' author China Miéville (The City & the City); Brent Hartinger (author of Geography Club, a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series (who still enjoys role-playing games). Others who have been influenced are television and film storytellers and entertainers like Robin Williams, Matt Groening (The Simpsons), Dan Harmon (Community) and Chris Weitz (American Pie)."
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Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:46PM (#47489941)

    How many acts of bullying or vandalism were sublimated into dice-driven combat? ... How many underage D.U.I.s never came to pass because spell tables were being consulted late into the night?

    The gaming community really doesn't need this old stereotype of gamers as uptight nerds who are scared to step outside the bounds of adult-imposed propriety. I played D&D in high school in the 1980s, but I found plenty of time for illin' like any other teenager. I bought a lot of weed, sold some, and I also did a lot of grafitti tagging in my neighborhood. In these activities, I was often joined by peers who I would also meet for D&D.

  • The flip side: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:58PM (#47489989)

    "For countless players, Dungeons & Dragons redirected teen-age miseries and energies that might have been put to more destructive uses. How many depressed and lonely kids turned away from suicide because they found community and escape in role-playing games?"

    On the flip side, how many hours were wasted the could have been put to better use? Studying Maths or computers or foreign languages or Music or Science or Drama, or even spent at football or wrestling practice? How many trebuchets were not built because the teen-agers were busy playing games? How many young men were not Eagle Scouts? How many snow forts or tree houses were left empty, or even not built in the first place?

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @02:44PM (#47490163)

    This, a thousand times. A tabletop RPG gives a lot more freedom of choice and a much more visceral experience than anything technology has managed to produce or is likely to produce for the foreseeable future. And the barriers to entry are basically nonexistent, a few rules, some dice, pencils and paper.

    I mean think about it - you read a book, right, and you interpret the words in the book in a way unique to yourself, you see the castle or the starship in your own minds eye in a way that nobody else can. This is a big part of the magic of reading. Tabletop RPGs are like that except it's a shared imaginative experience, others literally walk in your imagination and you walk in theirs. What could be more marvellous?

    Books are to movies what tabletop RPGs are to computer games.

  • by WheezyJoe (1168567) <fegg@@@excite...com> on Saturday July 19, 2014 @02:46PM (#47490171)

    The great thing about D&D (that's often lost on people) is that it was a social thing. All your friends get together, kinda like college poker nights (except you're NOT trying to drain the sucker next to you). Best campaign I ever had we were ten kids in a room (on a rainy day), working together, hashing things out. The DM was really prepared, and we got completely immersed and the hours flew by like they do when you're really having fun. It was great.

    The fact is, it's just damn hard to get a good campaign together, get a lot of people interested. Probably much harder now because D&D has that (false) anti-social stigma these days, and who needs a DM when you got a computer? D&D takes a lot more work than just firing up WoW (or, for that matter, Zork) by yourself in the basement. Even in the day, if your friends weren't into it, role-playing games kinda suck. On the flip side, if your friends are stoked, your DM puts in the prep-time, and you're all keen to cooperate and work with each other, D&D can make some of the best memories you'll ever have. 'cause it's with your friends.

    Most people I know who shit on D&D either never played it, or had a lame experience in a lame campaign. That's a shame, but that's life. Anything involving people, from drama club to Boy Scouts to playing football can leave a bad taste in your mouth if the people in it don't care or are uncooperative assholes.

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:28PM (#47490353)
    They would be wise to get a celebrity D&D campaign. Just imagine an evening with Cory Doctorow, Stephen Colbert, George R. R. Martin, Matt Groening etc, all sitting around a table, trying to lawyer rules and hold off a raid of hobgoblins! That would be a "reality" show that I could watch!
  • by A NonyMouse CowHerd (545245) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:33PM (#47490391) Homepage
    D&D was loosely based on concepts from "The Lord of the Rings", recently published back then by Ace in paperback format. The American publisher of LOTR had allowed the copyright to lapse because the books just didn't sell. And the people at Ace were explicit after-the-fact -- if the had been required to negotiate royaltie payments the project would never have been done. The consensus at the time was that adult fantasy does not sell.

    Within weeks there was a set by Ballentine books (at 95 cents each, vs the Ace 75 cents) as the 'authorized edition'; shortly thereafter, Ace announced they had made royalty arrangements. Then Houghton-Mifflin re-printed the hardbacks. Lancer started issuing paperbacks of the Conan stories and Lord Dunsany's fantasy stories. New fantasy stories started to appear - and Gygax and Arneson came up with D&D.

    Look at all the LOTR and D&D spin-offs in books, movies, other FRP games - and most would probably never have come about if the copyrights to LOTR had not been allowed to lapse.
  • Re:The flip side: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @04:20PM (#47490587) Journal
    Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Saturday July 19, 2014 @05:49PM (#47491013) Homepage Journal

    false idea that all kids that played DnD only played DnD and didn't do anything else.

  • Re:The flip side: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Saturday July 19, 2014 @05:57PM (#47491059) Homepage Journal

    " How many young men were not Eagle Scouts?"
    not enough.

    How many kids wasted their childhood being tricked into doing other peoples work? How may Eagle scouts would have learned to cooperate better and thing for themselves instead of how to be a pre military puppet?

Forty two.

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