There was a time when a majority of people thought Dungeons and Dragons was a cult group. As a Dungeons and Dragons player, I want to explain that that is false. This community is a cultural influencer and is helping young kids expand their social groups and creative areas.
“Back in 1974, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was arguably the first true roleplaying game. Players took on the mantle of adventurers from a multitude of races and occupations. Each game had a Dungeon Master who would act as both a referee and storyteller,” according to BBC News Magazine. At that time, there had been reports of people killing themselves because of the game Dungeons and Dragons, and family members were accusing the game of making their children commit suicide.
BBC News Magazine also reported, “In 1979, 16-year-old child prodigy James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from his room at Michigan State University.”
Despite his family apparently knowing little about roleplaying games, they believed that Dungeons and Dragons was the cause of Egbert’s disappearance. He was later found dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. While it was clear that more complex psychological factors were at play, his family thought otherwise.
As reported in the BBC News Magazine, “At first, Patricia Pulling attempted to sue her son’s high school principal, claiming the curse placed upon her son’s character during a game run by the principal was real. She also sued TSR Inc, the publishers of D&D. Despite the court dismissing these cases, Pulling continued her campaign by forming Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (BADD) in 1983.”
Many people who were part of the Dungeons and Dragons community were furious because Pulling was misrepresenting her credentials as an expert witness on games.
According to an article in BBC News Magazine, studies by the American Association of Suicidology, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Health and Welfare Canada all found no causal link between D&D and suicide.
The perception of Dungeons and Dragons has changed since those early years. If people have a negative view of role playing today, it is much more likely to be about the supposed geekish overtones, rather than fears for the sanity of the players.
In an article on the benefits of role playing, blogger Patrick Allan stated, “Behind the fantasy adventures was a fun social gathering that required you to think on your toes, solve problems, be creative, and ultimately learn how to become a team player.”
Dungeons and Dragons is about critical thinking and about working like a team. Playing Dungeons and Dragons can help prepare people for future jobs by enhancing certain skills needed to work on a team.
Allan, a writer for LifeHacker.com, goes on to say, “Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains, and role-playing games do this incredibly well. When we tell stories—or experience them—our brains have to process language, the cause and effect of events, and also relate it to our own pre-existing experiences. While you’re playing a role-playing game, your brain is firing on all cylinders.”
Creativity is what fuels the game, and because it has no boundaries, you have freedom and the ability to move the story forward how you see fit. It helps with thinking on the spot and encourages improvisation.
While playing this game you also have to be extremely social. Dungeons and Dragons is about teamwork and bringing the interaction right to your face. The game allows for you to meet new people and with older friends.
This game also lets you jump into other game groups and make new friends. With more experience, the process becomes easier. The forced interaction amongst people causes them to find things they share in common while combating shyness.
Playing encourages teamwork and cooperation, which can help in the professional field. Your character has specialized skills which fills a role on a diverse team, and just like at work, if you don’t do your job, the whole team can suffer for it.
Cooperation is key to this game. Without it, the team falls apart and everyone suffers. Through the game you learn what you are good at and through that skill you help aid the team. By learning how to play with a team, you can learn how to work with one.
These games also force you to think on your feet.
It’s always a small victory when you solve the riddle or survive an encounter. Some of the best moments in the game are when you’re backed into a corner, but manage to pull through with your wit. Dungeons and Dragons helps improve critical thinking and helps get into that mindset in the future. You eventually learn to see problems from many perspectives.
Dungeons and Dragons is a fun game that allows you to be someone else. You don’t have to worry about being embarrassed, because everyone is doing something just as ridiculous. Half the fun is putting responsibilities to the side and playing like a kid again. Without it, nerd culture as we know it would not exist.