What Geek Poker Night Looks LikeCredit: google images
In the last year and a half I started playing Dungeons and Dragons due to some clever antics from several of my friends locking me into a promise. Through high school and college I avoided the game because of some ignorant assumptions. Ideas compiled through cultural examples that if you played Dungeons and Dragons there was no coming back. Watching movies like Revenge of the Nerds and TV shows like Dexter's Laboratory always made the game the worst possible thing to do if you wanted to fit in. Fortunately friends proved me wrong on several points and it turned out to be one of the best ways to spend time with friends. D&D is an excuse for friends, coworkers, and family to get together and experience the a fantasy world together. D&D is geek poker night.
Define to Understand
Dungeons and Dragons is a table top turn based fantasy role-playing game first published in 1974. While D&D goes to greater depth than most board games it has the same basis. A set structure based on rules showcasing the way to win and the challenge of completing the goal. In Monopoly each player tries to get all the money, Risk has players conquer the world, and chess makes players trap the King. Dungeons and Dragons takes the same idea and just expands it to larger levels with elaborate campaigns, rules, and characters acting as pieces. The rules do not change just the goal of the campaign, often an epic quest to kill a dragon or find a treasure. Looking at modern video games players will see a very similar connection between this and games like World of War Craft, Final Fantasy, and any game named Role Playing Game or RPG for short. The idea of taking a character that has options the player chooses, to improve the character to their preference based on experience gained through accomplishing goals like combat and quests. D&D was the forerunner to all of it providing the backbone for modern digital and tabletop RPGs.
Why All the Hate?Credit: wikimedia.org
OK so if Dungeons and Dragons is another game friends can play together why all the hate? Where does this stereotype come from that has people thinking,
"If I play Dungeons and Dragons my friends will never accept me again."
While hard to believe all the aspects of Nerd Culture that everyone is into today, such as live action superhero movies, internet streaming, and video game progression were not the culture of past times. Go back thirty to forty years ago when computers and comic books were in their infancy, socially accepted practices did not include such hobbies. Through the seventies and to today we see examples of Dungeons and Dragons used as the go to example of what is to Geeky. TV has a nasty habit of taking vague understandings of topics and pushing that perspective to viewers. Dungeons and Dragons suffers from the same issues of poor examples infecting the populace with these misconceptions. Consider the misrepresentations that movies and TV are guilty of when portraying physics, true stories, races, religion, books, and philosophy. When people consider the actual credit of the source material it is easy to understand how Dungeons and Dragons could have been blown out of proportion.
Only Losers Play and get to Obsessed with the Game
Here is where the ignorance goes off the deep end. The classic example of bullying D&D players is because they do not belong. I have played the game with all-star athletes, age groups from teenagers to adults in their sixties, both sexes, different races, and all walks of life. D&D is a game that everyone plays, there is a clear demographic but it is not limited to just any one social class or ethnicity. It provides great fun for everyone.Credit: wikimedia.org
The idea that people get to obsessed is simply a matter of perspective and is not limited to Dungeons and Dragons. The players who dress up and go full form in the fantasy role-playing aspect are just die-hard fans. No different than sports fans wearing full body make up of their sports team, dressing as your favorite character at Halloween, or civil war reenactments . The list goes on, extreme fandom is part of every popular, trendy, and cult classic medium. Just because there is die hard fans of Dungeon and Dragons does not mean it should be defined by them.
What Really Happens!
A group of friends get together and plan out a campaign that may interest them making key decisions on what goal to set and which class to choose. Most campaigns go off of a simple rule where you have four main roles.
- Front Line Fighter
- Caster or Magician
- Skill Monkey
Players fill these roles based on what they want to play. Think back to when you were a kid and saw a martial arts movie and imagined yourself as a Kung Fu master. The book that had that amazing fight and the fantasy of a dragon falling to a magic sword takes shape. D&D is what that is all about capturing the imagination and providing people the chance to play out those fantasies. Athletes act out their favorite moments in a game living out the winning three pointer. Musicians close their eyes as they play alongside their favorite artist on stage. Scientists dream of changing the world, building on what previous visionaries discovered and inspired them to push further. Everyone has a dream and the chance to play it out in a detail, with rules and a way to win, alongside friends. Once the stats, background, setting, goals, and characters are done you get to play and watch the story unfold. All kinds of epic encounters provide a form of organised chaos thanks to the dice deciding the fate of the game play. D&D makes players think providing great challenge and a very clear point between failure and success, if you roll a low value you fail and if you roll high then you succeed. A game of chance that can kill your character outright. All this raises the stakes and makes the game more fun and makes so wildly entertaining memories.
Geek Poker NightCredit: flickr.com
Once the game is defined and all the people have managed their time to make it D&D becomes a weekly or monthly routine for friends to hang out at a specified time. There are bowling leagues, softball games, and poker night which do the same thing. Provide the chance for friends to hang out and enjoy each other's company over a unique game everyone enjoys. The hilarious unpredictable moments we have shared due to character failing or great success is impossible to see coming. Hours laughing at the top of our lungs or just shaking our heads for the sheer ridiculous nature of what had happened. I look forward to these meetings every week and encourage others to try it as well. The game can bring friends and families together, provide an escape from stress, or simply break the monotony of the day. We no longer live in a time where new ideas and fantasy oriented games are persecuted. Look past stereotypical showings from television and give Dungeons and Dragons a shot.