I'll come out of the closet and admit that I used to play this game with an almost fanatic interest. My first exposure to the game was in Spain when several other military brats in my apartment complex introduced me to a twenty sided die (1d20). By the time I moved to Guam, I was hooked. I started a group there with an unlikely band of friends: a Hawaiian volleyball player, half-thai skateboarder dude, heavy metal rocker, etc... and we were destroyers of worlds.
For many of these guys, the game was new to them and they didn't realize that in many circles there was a stigma attached to those who played it. I would cringe when hanging out with my other friends and these guys would say, "Yeah, we're going to play Dungeons and Dragons tonight". This was an unecessary side effect of youthful insecurity. I haven't played in years as I've found that as people work full time and have families, it's difficult to make the time. Even more difficult is to have several people have the time at the same time. It's a feat of synchronization. Perhaps when I retire.
Peter Bebergal has a wonderful op-ed in today's Boston Globe about the imagination-boosting power of Dungeons and Dragons
[Via Boing Boing]
To put it simply, Dungeons and Dragons reinvented the use of the imagination as a kid's best toy. The cliche of parents waxing nostalgic for their wooden toys and things "they had to make themselves" has now become my own. Looking around at my toddler's room full of trucks, trains, and Transformers, I want to cry out, "I created worlds with nothing more than a twenty-sided die!"
Dungeons and Dragons was a not a way out of the mainstream, as some parents feared and other kids suspected, but a way back into the realm of story-telling. This was what my friends and I were doing: creating narratives to make sense of feeling socially marginal. We were writing stories, grand in scope, with heroes, villains, and the entire zoology of mythical creatures.