21 Nov 2008
The real world, while cool, has nothing on my fantasies. No, I’m not referring to the latest spread in Sports Illustrated. what I’m talking about is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Normally, I’m weary of speaking about it, because the stigma of role-playing is still around today, but this is my blog and it’s going to be a happy place.
Even though decades have past since the prime of the major controversies surrounding D&D, some of the reactions I get when I mention my “role-playing thing” astound me. Sure, there have been some instances where I’ve been surprised; I met my best friends in high school by overhearing a conversation on non-weapon proficiencies. But such instances are rare. More often, I find myself on the receiving end of strange looks and muffled laughter. It has been 27 years since Mazes and Monster, 26 since B.A.D.D., and 24 since Dark Dragons, but RPGs have not entirely escaped the fear-mongering of their history.
I don’t play D&D to escape from reality. I don’t play because I can’t make “real” friends. I don’t play because I’ve made a pact with the devil. These misconceptions come from completely mistaken notions of what D&D is about. One could not play through a session or read the books and come to these conclusions. Because playing D&D is about creation.
The very first act all players undertake is to build a character. These characters can be anything you dream of. While there are some rules, they serve to guide, not restrict. From there, you move into the real meat of an RPG: the game-play. Together, with a group of friends, you write a story. The Dungeon Master narrates, but everyone is involved in the details. After a night of play, half a dozen people have come together and made something. And there are groups that do this on a weekly basis. How many people can claim they do something similar? How many people really use their creativity and build something awesome once a week? Or even once a month?
Now I will grant that some horrible things have occurred while playing various role-playing games. Kids have killed each other while acting as their characters. People have used D&D and other such games to share views that are either hurtful or bigoted. The problem in these situations is not Dungeons & Dragons, but the people playing it. Just as Thomas Dixon’s books about White Supremacy don’t mean that all books are inherently racist, a few negative instances don’t point to a flaw in RPGs.
Don’t worry. I’m not trying to convert you to playing D&D. But I do think that it’s time people stopped cracking wise about my hobby. I’ll have fun my way. You have fun your way. And we’ll ignore each other like God intended. Sound good?