Why Dungeons & Dragons Was Exactly What I Needed?

For a long time I think I’ve been struggling to find quality social time. It feels even harder than it use to because everybody is so busy or trying to save money. We couldn’t think of many cheap options to hang out and would usually end up at the pub. This was made even more challenging for me when I decided that I wanted to cut back on alcohol (see ‘Goodbye to my Drunken Alter Ego.’) A while back my friends and I decided to start Dungeons & Dragons and have been meeting up at the card game shop a few times each week. It was initially very expensive to buy all of the equipment for, but now we have somewhere to go without needing to spend any extra money. What I love about it is that everybody is fully engaged with each other, which can feel like a rare thing in a world that is full of distractions.

I come from a really creative family and when I was younger my sister, cousin and I would get up to all sorts. We’d create stories together, make games and record our own movies. It was fun just to sit around the computer together messing about with photo editing software. As we’ve gotten older our lives have taken us elsewhere, but I miss that feeling of being silly and creative with others. I realized that not everybody has had the opportunity to be this way around others and find it challenging to do so. Role playing feels like a structured way to help people to be creative as they tell a story together. At the start it can leave you feeling weird and vulnerable, but so long as you have a good gaming group they’ll be encouraging. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can share ideas or be generally silly without the fear of being judged (see ‘The Creative Mind.’) Dungeons & Dragons is allowing me to enjoy connecting with others in that way again. As for my friends it’s also giving them a safe way to learn how to experience that too.

A lot of gamers like to role play power fantasies. Most of us want to feel special, but in doing so we put too much focus on ourselves and can accidentally tread over others in the process (I’ve had past experiences of trying to cooperate with others that just want to take over and do it all their way.) The aim of Dungeons & Dragons is to be equally fun for everybody. It’s about working as a team and doing awesome things together. There are no win conditions and so it doesn’t matter if you succeed or not so long as you enjoy telling a great story together. I’m the Dungeon Master in my own group and it’s my job to ensure that all of my players are happy. I surprised myself when I volunteered to take on this role as I would have never considered myself as having the confidence to run a game. Being a Dungeon Master is actually very fun and rewarding in its own way. It’s an amazing feeling when my players tell me that they’ve enjoyed a session afterwards. A game is always more fun if everybody is engaged as opposed to having one player run away with it. Another way to consider this is that it’s better for the many to be having fun as opposed to just one person. It can be challenging to manage sometimes, but it’s a good way for me to learn how to handle different types of player.

Dungeons & Dragons has had an unfair reputation in the past and even now I sense a nerd warning alarm going off for some when I mention it. The sheer number of rules and numbers can be off putting, but in actuality they’re secondary to the game. The rules exist to guide it, but a Dungeon Master can drop or adjust them if they’re interfering with the players having a good time. One of the most jarring things that we found with starting table top role playing was learning not to be too rigid with it (approaching it like a video game.) Once you realize that you can use the rules to set up any kind of situation that you want it can also be all too easy to get carried away with excitement. The game doesn’t have to have a fantasy setting either, it can be anything you want it to be. I was surprised to discover that table top role playing is a mix of social interaction, creativity and mechanics. I’m hoping that with practice it’ll help my friends and I to gain more social confidence as well as developing the skills associated with running the game. As much as I loathe to write this, we took up physical games a few year back to give us a break away from the screen too (when you work with computers and play video games sometimes you do need to get away.)

Dungeons & Dragons has given me something to look forward to each week and even though it’s time consuming, seeing happy players makes it all worth while. I hope it’ll be a new hobby that we can keep up for a long time now and I wish I’d started earlier.

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About wallcat

I have a strong passion for computing. In particular programming for which I am able to use a variety of languages including C++, Visual C#, Blitz Basic, Actionscript 2.0, Python and Lua. I also enjoy web-design and have some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP/SQL and Javascript. As well as programming I have a strong background in art and enjoy drawing in my spare time. When I’m not sat at my computer I like to keep fit by going to the gym or using my exercise ball.

2 responses to “Why Dungeons & Dragons Was Exactly What I Needed?”

  1. Pasduil says :

    Sounds great!

    Board and card games (and suchlike!) are a great way to relax and socialize. I I recently started playing chess face-to-face again,and it’s a really nice way to hang out and chat with like-minded people on top of the enjoyment you get from actually playing the game itself. I guess it’s the same for people that have their poker nights and so on as well.

    I’ve never played D&D but from your desc, sounds like I might love it.

    • wallcat says :

      I definitely recommend it. They do have meetups for it, although we started as a group of friends. It didn’t take as long for us to pick it up as we expected. I love getting games out at gatherings too because it ensures that everybody joins in. Not everybody finds it easy to come out of their shell, but a good game can help to break the ice. I still prefer playing face-to-face. Feels more social that way. It can be hard to keep these hobbies up when you have to arrange times and places for everybody, but well worth it.

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