A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A kindred soul. . .

. . .at Boing-Boing looks back at the impact that Dungeons and Dragons had on his life, and how it helped to shape his imagination and creativity. As a fellow D & D nerd growing up, I have to agree. I can't help wondering how much the advances in modern video game technology over the past two decades have cheated today's kids out of with regard to imagination and fantasy. The images and sounds are all prepackaged and the storylines already mapped out.

With D & D, players developed characters that were essentially alter-egos through which they vicariously became all the things they wanted to be in the real, modern world. The confidence and daring that eludes the awkwardly different teenage boy is right there to be drawn from in a mystical world where a "roll of the dice" determines the outcome of every decision, much like in real life.

Among the group I played with, there was a very personal attachment to the characters we developed over the course of a campaign, as I'm sure was the case with every other group of players on the planet. We all knew each other's characters as well as we knew one another. We knew who the go-to guy was in every instance -- who was better at sorting out this dilemma, or that. We counted on one another to make sure that each of us still had a living character at the end of the adventure, even if it meant fudging the rules a little.

Even the very process of playing the game held a lot of meaning. When someone got a new "adventure module" to play, it was a call to draw up a fresh, new character sheet, neatly written and organized like a new set of clothes (or suit of armor, as it were). The sense of anticipation for what lay behind doors and around corners was much like what strikes a boy on his first day of high school. Who's the biggest jerk among the teachers? Is a senior really going to stuff me in a locker? And, who are these strange creatures with the curvy bodies?

But, in D & D, all these questions answered themselves by the end of the adventure -- which could be as short as a weekend, or months long, depending on who was grounded, and whose mom would put up with the racket. In the real world, those questions persist in one form or another for life, with moms being replaced by wives, seniors being replaced with bosses, and Dungeons and Dragons replaced with life itself.

Now, thanks to Boing-Boing, I'm tempted to carry a couple of percentile dice with me at all times to help me navigate this real-world labyrinth.

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