There are lots of things people don’t necessarily understand: black holes, Calculus, and the plot of Donnie Darko. People also don’t really understand the allure of Dungeons & Dragons, but that’s changed over the years. It’s becoming a much more popular way to spend time.
Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game created in the 1970s. It’s not a game involving exciting graphics, but instead dice and imagination.
Originally, the game was seen as a nerdy hobby with extremely complicated rules. I even held the belief myself. However, my perspective, along with the perspective of others, has changed.
“Media has definitely helped destigmatize D&D. Of course, things like Stranger Things has helped with that. People are realizing it’s not just for fat nerds playing in their mom’s basement,” says Dragon’s Den employee Tom Douglass. “People who aren’t necessarily hardcore nerds are playing it now.”
Douglass has noticed a rise in popularity for the game, along with other tabletop games, over the past five or six years.
Fantasy media has always been popular in novels, movies and video games. There’s an endless realm of possibility within the genre, but D&D takes this one step further by providing you a way to create an experience where you can do whatever you want in the spur of the moment.
While I personally haven’t been playing the game for a long time, I have been enjoying every minute of it – which is a lot, considering how long sessions can take.
I started playing about a year ago with some of my own friends, at first confused by all the rules and game mechanics. It was intimidating, but it’s much easier when you keep playing it.
It’s also fulfilling. My D&D group really enjoys the art and storytelling aspects of the game. When we play, we’re creating something collectively, collaborating and weaving a story together.
There are lots of new forms of media popping up revolving around D&D. Streams of games like the “Critical Role” or podcasts like “The Adventure Zone” have become popular over the years because of how the overarching story is told through players, one entertaining for both long-time players and even people who have never touched a 20-sided dice in their life.
D&D doesn’t have to be serious though. The real reason people play the game is to just have fun with friends. As many times as I’ve spent crying over a serious moment, I’ve had twice as many tears shed laughing at an unexpectedly hilarious moment.
Each individual game (or campaign as it’s usually called) varies by group. Some are more dramatic, others comedic, some much more casual about the rules. D&D doesn’t even have to be confined to a fantasy setting.
“There’s a diversity in the genre of the game, including things like sci-fi. It’s for everybody. And, you know, who doesn’t want to escape for a couple of hours?” said Douglass.
This diversity has enabled more people to join in the fun.
I get excited hearing people talk about their adventures with friends because, in the end, that’s what playing is about – making memories. I am grateful to be able to play because I believe my relationships have grown stronger as a result.
D&D is on the rise and I think it will become more popular over time. I hope people who haven’t played yet get the opportunity. It may seem strange at first, but once you really get into it, there’s no other experience like it.