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How 'Dungeons' changed the world

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Anonymous
December 6, 2004 10:53:36 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.adnd,rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

PETER BEBERGAL
How 'Dungeons' changed the world
By Peter Bebergal | November 15, 2004

FOR A WHILE, it seemed, I was part of a generation with no discernable
qualities, no great contribution to American culture. Too young to be
boomers, too old to be "Gen X," this generation was a product of the
burned out excess of the seventies married to the surface glow of the
eighties. But here in 2004, I realize I belong to the luckiest
generation, and not only that, I am part of the luckiest sub-culture
within. Maybe we didn't give the world the Beatles or John Updike, but we
gave the world Dungeons and Dragons.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the beloved, much maligned, often
misunderstood role playing game developed in 1974 by Dave Arneson and
Gary Gygax. Without CGI graphics, surround sound, or flat screens, they
invented an immense and complex gaming system that requires only pencils,
graph paper, and some oddly configured dice. Arneson and Gygax paved the
way, but let's face it, my friends and I changed the world.

It started innocently enough. With a copy of "The Fellowship of the Ring"
at my side and Styx on the record player, I was looking for something to
help me rise above being bored, lonely, and unfulfilled. One day at
school, a kid approached me. Having sensed in me an ally -- the same
urgent need to avoid getting beat up that day -- he timidly asked if I
wanted to play "D&D" after school.

From then on, I never had another forlorn afternoon. And to think, from
that first fateful day when I decided I would be known as the half-elf
wizard Vendel, I was joining a revolution. But what exactly were we
transforming?

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. Even sports, the arch-nemesis of role-playing games,
is a splendid tale of adventure and glory. Though my friends and I were
not always athletically inclined, we found agility in the characters we
created. We fought, flew through the air, shot arrows out of the park,
and scored points by slaying the dragon and disabling the trap.

Our influence is now everywhere. My generation of gamers -- whose youths
were spent holed up in paneled wood basements crafting identities,
mythologies, and geographies with a few lead figurines -- are the
filmmakers, computer programmers, writers, DJs, and musicians of today. I
think, for the producers, the movie version of "The Lord of the Rings"
was less about getting the trilogy off the page and onto the screen than
it was a vicarious thrill, a gift to the millions of us who wished we
could have dressed up as orcs and ventured into catacombs and castle
keeps ourselves. Only a generation of imaginations roused by role playing
could have made those movies possible.

Dungeons and Dragons is seeing an increase in popularity as a whole new
generation raised on video games begins to look for a way back to the
more personally and socially engaging pleasures of sitting around with a
bunch of friends and making stuff up. Imagine, parents, that some of your
kids are actually turning the TV off to talk to each other, to play
something that they have to "make themselves."

I am getting ready to introduce the game to my son. In a little drawer I
have an unopened box of those funny-sided dice, not exactly a family
relic, but a tradition to pass on nonetheless. And let's not forget that
even though we are talking about a world of basilisks, knights, and
talking trees, Dungeons and Dragons can help us make new stories out of
the very world around us.

Democrats, you better get yourselves a magic shield, because in Congress,
Bush has plus three to hit.

Peter Bebergal is a writer and teacher.

--
======================================================================
ISLAM: Winning the hearts and minds of the world, one bomb at a time.

More about : dungeons changed world

Anonymous
December 7, 2004 9:54:26 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.adnd,rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

"Ubiquitous" <weberm@polaris.net> wrote in message
news:TqqdnfBcj7W9kCjcRVn-uw@comcast.com...
> PETER BEBERGAL
> How 'Dungeons' changed the world
> By Peter Bebergal | November 15, 2004
>
> This year marks the 30th anniversary of the beloved, much maligned, often
> misunderstood role playing game developed in 1974 by Dave Arneson and
> Gary Gygax. Without CGI graphics, surround sound, or flat screens,

Except for the DM's screen. You could hear the clattering of your impending
doom followed by an evil glance over the top as something _really_ sinister
started to unfold...
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