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Role Playing (Games) Games

Looking Back At Dungeons & Dragons 189

An anonymous reader sends in a nostalgic piece about Dungeons & Dragons and the influence it's had on games and gamers for the past 36 years. Quoting: "Maybe there was something in the air during the early '70s. Maybe it was historically inevitable. But it seems way more than convenient coincidence that Gygax and Arneson got their first packet of rules for D&D out the door in 1974, the same year Nolan Bushnell managed to cobble together a little arcade machine called Pong. We've never had fun quite the same way since. Looking back, these two events set today's world of gaming into motion — the Romulus and Remus of modern game civilization. For the rest of forever, we would sit around and argue whether games should let us do more or tell us better stories."
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Looking Back At Dungeons & Dragons

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  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:12AM (#30829592) Homepage
    Few people born after 1990 will likely want to touch D&D, or any other pen-and-paper RPG. I kind of feel sorry for their imaginations. At some point the saturation of visual media will reach a point where practically everything is a close derivative of some other work the artist has seen, and you'll have very little artwork that's created simply by the mind of the designer. This has implications, IMHO, that reach further than just how people draw elves and orcs. D&D made us look up at the *ceiling* and try to imagine a creature, a place, a situation, and the interaction of things that we've never encountered. Kids seeing Avatar today will be, in some way, imagination-impaired.
    (damn, I sound old)
  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:40AM (#30829746) Homepage
    These days when you say "RPG" people think WoW. Yes, technically it's made things easier, and you can certainly find a lot more people to play with, but how many 11-year-olds will you find who want to play a text-based game, when they're *online*.
  • by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:32AM (#30830948) Journal

    The kids of all the members our our active game groups are starting to become interested. The oldest is only 8.

    Kids imagine more than you know, and given the wealth of influence from media, movies, stories, and more, they can come up with some pretty hard core stuff.

    We didn't "imagine" as much as you think with D&D either, we had pictures of monters to look at, descriptions and detailed accounts to reference, the only one doing any real imagining was the DM and only if he wrote his only story, or more commonly augmented one to better suit tyhe group). The rest of us were simply "role playing" which is what it's all about. Reacting to events and scenarios as someone else might react instead of yourself. The rest was all simply in the rules. It's a scripted session of pretend, not very far different from the choose-your-own-adventure books from the 70's and 80's. The advantage of it was simply that the rules were basically wide open for any conceivable action to be done by a player instead of a strict set of options on your turn.

    Today, it's better. We have actual play maps (which were allways optional back in the day, and rarely used because of the massive time investment in making them and expense of miniatures). The TV is a central view of the action, initiative, and quest notes. Players use laptops to manage their character and move them about on the screen by joining the server. They can see what monters look like (currently they're simply icons, scanned from the books, so it's really not all that different) Rolling and to-hit calcuations have been replaced by macros which makes combat MUCH more efficient and lets us "play" more and roll less (though some still prefer real dice). It's easier to get a mental image of what's going on, and there's less "narrative" as the GM simply explains your surroundings and relative position to each other.

    We're still huddles in a room over character sheets running through adventures led by a GM pulling the strings of NPCs. The stories now are not much diferent than they used to be. It's quite entertaining, and action happens a lot faster than it used to.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:06AM (#30831256)
    Try growing up in a hick town where you're the only D&D fan. Then you won't romanticize it so much. At least the CRPG's gave me someone to play with.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp