Opinion: Why you should play Dungeons & Dragons

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Let’s admit it, being a college student is stressful. Students tend to let that stress get to them and it can make life difficult. They often try to find ways of dealing with stress by watching a movie, spending a night out with friends or binge watching shows on Netflix instead of doing homework. In addition to school stress, keeping in touch with friends off campus is sometimes impossible and it takes a large amount of coordination with everyone’s schedules. When students do get together, they can have a hard time deciding what to do.

Personally, I have decided to escape from the stress of school, work and keeping up with friends by playing pen and paper games like Dungeons & Dragons.

When D&D came out, there was a lot of confusion about what it was. Indeed, the media almost convinced people that it was a euphemism for demonology. Fortunately, time has been kind to D&D and other games like it. Now the gathering of friends around a table, rolling dice and telling stories is becoming far less taboo.

People used to say that video games will melt the brain and no one will get anywhere by playing them. Today, however, playing video games has become not just a sport, but a livelihood. In the same way, playing pen and paper games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Shadowrun and Starfinder have begun to open doors of opportunities for people to turn their hobby into a dream job. Like video games, though, D&D has a lot of ground to break before it becomes a household name. Still, it’s amazing to think that in the time of video games, virtual reality and movies, a game about using your imagination is gaining new players everyday.

Unlike videos games, I believe Dungeons and Dragons, or any pen and paper game, can hook anyone into being a fan after the first time they try it out. This is especially true if they are creative in anyway, such as writing, drawing, play acting or even watching movies. I would challenge students to not enjoy themselves during a game session. The game relies entirely on the imaginations of the players and the Dungeon Master (think of him as director for the night). 

Along with imagination, a group of players will need pencils, paper, some dice and a rulebook. With these in hand, an entirely new world is open. It’s a world that will only include homework if the players choose to allow it. Within this world, players can be anyone they choose to be. If they want to be a superhero from a Marvel movie, they can do that. If they want to be the king of a cursed kingdom where everyone has to follow their every order, they can do that. If they want to be the star football player who also invented football, yes, they can do that. The limit is truly the imagination. This can be quite freeing, especially because in real life we are met daily with limitations that can seem insurmountable.

For me, the best part of playing pen and paper games are the memories I have made with my friends. Any other game would not have allowed my friends and I to trick a tribe of lizard men into giving us their weapons by holding a box of lemons hostage. Thanks to the aid of technology, every Friday night my friends and I are able to get on our computers and have an adventure together without having to travel across the states.

Along with spending time with my friends, I’ve also learned so much about how creative they are in a way I never had before. There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment when my friends and I are able to solve problems together.

For those with a creative mind, another reason to play is the experience to be gained as a storyteller. As an English major, I’ve taken classes in creative writing, playwriting and cinematic storytelling, but I can honestly say that I have learned the most about what makes a story compelling from putting on a weekly D&D session. As the Dungeon Master for a D&D session, players gain instant feedback as to whether their story is fun and engaging,. This is unlike a book or movie that someone may spend months writing and producing only to show it once to an audience and hope they enjoy it. 

The incredibly supportive and creative community that surrounds the game is almost like having one writers room for everyone to share their ideas, not only for feedback, but also for others to use. Imagine if J.J. Abram wrote the next “Star Trek” film and then posted it on a forum for everyone else to take it, change it and adapt it for their own films, and then post it again for someone else to improve it further. For those who enjoy acting, they may enjoy getting to create the character they play, controling their actions and not needing to memorize scripts or listen to a director. 

If someone is thinking about joining or starting a game for themselves, I would suggest looking up the Dungeons and Dragons website. It helps people find the materials they will need, as well as a group of friends to play with. For those reading this and saying, “yeah, sounds like fun, but I don’t have time” or “it’s not for me,” I say wander onto YouTube and look up people playing D&D, such as Outsidexbox and the Heroes of Awesome. Sometimes watching a single session can make the game click in a way that explanation cannot. 

No matter what someone’s thoughts are on the subject, I urge everyone, not just as someone who plays pen and paper games, but also as someone whose life seems to get crazier and crazier each year, to give Dungeons and Dragons a try. You may find yourselves having the most fun you’ve have had in a long time.