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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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  • Still play weekly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:23PM (#47490075) Journal

    Been meeting with the same group for more than 30 years now on Saturday night. I started playing the when the 1st red-book with crayons came out, I was like in 6th grade, and yes I still have the boxed set and nearly EVERY other book, module, and accessory. I'm 46 now and NO other form of RPG online or other can compare to the fun and comradeship of a face to face pen and paper RPG. More imagination, more interaction, and for those of you who doubt it is family fun, our group consists of 2 single ladies, 3 single guys, 2 married couples all my relative age (mid 40's) and 3 much younger players in their mid 20's ( 2 guys and a girl. We have 3 players who rotate as Game Master and we play in a long standing organically customized world. We have been at several Gen-Cons and we ran a full tourney game that was very successful several years ago.
    Long live D&D

  • by Nyall (646782) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:27PM (#47490109) Homepage

    Depressed kids can always find outlets. I drew, listened to music, taught myself 68k assembly language for my calculator, read a lot, and lifted weights. I often reflect on how a depression based self education led to a career.

  • Learning English (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cerberusss (660701) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @04:16PM (#47490309) Homepage Journal

    I'm from Europe and I didn't learn English in class. Instead I learned it from the AD&D (2nd edition) material. Together with a class mate who also had DM aspirations, we swapped and traded material through BBSes.

    We were so far ahead of the class, the teacher would set us apart and just let us do whatever we wanted. As long as we whispered, we could talk and read separate from the rest of the class. Of course that got us nasty looks, but we got to talk for a solid two hours about Planescape or Forgotten Realms.

    After class, we'd ask the teacher words that we couldn't find in the dictionary. He couldn't them either. I remember finding out what "to be marooned" meant, ahead of the teacher.

    I also remember that me and my gaming buddy got an A- on our final exams. After the verbal part of the exam, the teacher said he was a bit disappointed in my verbal skills. But because he knew I had it in me, he'd give me an A-.

    I stopped gaming when college started, I couldn't find a gaming group. After almost twenty years, I found out my current employer has a group of colleagues who regularly play Pathfinder, and I joined them. I'm playing a fifth level thief, and it's an absolute blast.

  • by JonnyCalcutta (524825) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @04:33PM (#47490393)

    Couldn't agree more. Some of my best memories are from playing RPGs as a teen / early adult. And like the other posters above that didn't prevent me from having the more normal and less respectable teen fun (drinking / smoking / partying / hanging round street corners / martial arts / football / movies). On the other hand, when the RPG campaign was rocking I wasn't adverse to skipping a party to keep the gaming going - it was that good.

    If someone thinks people should be skipping RPGs because its not studying maths or inventing new water filters for the third world then they are the ones with the unhealthy view, IMHO.

  • Re:The flip side: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sirnomad99 (2883747) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @09:54PM (#47491695)

    "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?

    Actually, a number of studies pointed out higher math and reasoning skills in those individuals who did game as opposed to peers who did not. Likewise there was significant development in creative talents such as literature and music as well as art. In my own groups we had a large number of individuals who went on to pursue careers in literature, music or art, either teaching or creating the same. Not to mention a high number of friends who are now successful IT professionals. To be quite frank I am hard pressed to remember anyone I had in my games who is not presently successful in their field.

  • by sirnomad99 (2883747) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:20PM (#47491991)

    I remember that piece of junk. A second rate book based on a tragic incident that was blown out of proportion by the media and latched onto by a fringe of religious conservatives in order to attack the new hobby. The only reason it got picked up for a movie was that with the controversy it was sure to garner ratings. The individual at the center of the drama in both the book/movie and the real incident it was based on had serious emotional issues prior to participating in roleplaying games.

    The only good it did was to make people within the hobby who lead games pay closer attention to the activities of their players away from the table. I myself asked a few players who were letting other parts of their lives slip to take a step back and remember that no game was worth letting studies or relationships slip..

    I began gaming in 1978 and after entering the Navy started a group of players at each location I was stationed. While I was stationed at NAS Memphis the group I started was actually appreciated by the barracks master-at-arms because instead of getting drunk and getting in trouble the only trouble he ever had with us was mediating an arrangement with the ping-pong players over use of the table. (we had a rather large group of players)

    I was stationed at a base in the Florida panhandle when the anti-RPG movement got into high gear and we got it with both barrels due to the fact our base was in an area full of highly reactionary conservative churches (most with names that included the word independent in them) that outnumbered almost every other type of organization. In fact in the 5 mile trip from base to town you could count 25-30 churches or signs for churches. (this in a town with a non-military population of less than 200,000) During my time there I was both privately and publicly accused of everything from being a Satanist to being a practicing warlock along with anyone else that did not make a secret of their participation in roleplaying games. The highlight(?) of this campaign of hate was the publication of a pamphlet that was circulated in the area supposedly identifying a cabal of warlocks intent on destroying the community. Twelve names were on that list and the only thing any of the people on it had in common was their hobby. Most of us didn't even know the others existed. It got enough circulation that on one occasion I was asked to leave a restaurant in the middle of a meal because the owner was made aware of my identity and told me he did not want "my kind" in his establishment. The only amusing part of this story was the fact that a few of the names on the "list" turned out to be naval officers with no sense of humor. A civil charge of slander and defamation of character was made against the individuals who were identified as authoring the pamphlet. Since both of the individuals involved could not substantiate their claims (in fact neither author had any first hand knowledge of the contents of Dungeons & Dragons or even realized that several people on their list didn't even play D&D) the justice hearing the case found against them and assessed damages.

    Given the amount of ignorant nonsense spread around at the time and incidents like my encounter with the restaurant owner I have a low tolerance for people trying to resurrect the propaganda of that period. (for anything other than ridicule) I have had the pleasure of gaming with many good and honest people over the 35+ years I have followed my hobby and I am honored to count most of them as my friends.

    Okay, I am done with my soapbox. Thank you for your patience with my rant.

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