Friday, February 24, 2012

Coming Out of the Game Closet

I feel like every time I begin this conversation, I immediately get defensive. And with good reason. Here, I'll just come out and say it. I play Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, I play in more than one game.  How many of you laughed at me, rolled your eyes, or just immediately thought really horrible stereotypical things about weird nerds in dingy basements?

Before moving to Albany, I had zero concept of what D&D actually was. The best picture I had in my head was some sad kid, all alone in a basement. It was actually prime time TV that changed my opinion of the game - an episode of Community where the characters sit down to the ultimate game of Dungeons and Dragons to save some friendless nerd's life. It was then that I realized, D&D isn't a game for loners. It's a social event where every member participates in collective story telling.

My main group gets together once a week. There's six of us - five ladies and one dude, which is kind of unheard of in this world of gamers. Every week, one of us cooks something different. And then we settle down to play. Every week is a writing exercise. For my own character - a male cleric named Haern who worships the god Torag - I sat down and figured out everywhere that Haern has been in order to understand his motivations within the game. The base of the story is held together by the game leader - or, erm, the Dungeon Master. However, by the decisions we make and actions we take - the rest of us shape the story into what it is.

I think the game has a lot to do with how creative I've been feeling lately. I started working on my novel again and realized that I am, suddenly, more than halfway through. And I have completed outlines for two more once I finish. Of course it's a combination of things - from blogging more frequently to taking classes at East Line. But - I think the time I spend with the game every week is an exercise that is essential to the creative process. At the very least, I've honed my characterization skills. But I think also paying attention to the various outcomes that can change drastically based on just one character's decision has changed the way I approach pacing and plot.

Here are a couple more hilarious TV renditions of the game I've come to love:

From the I.T. Crowd, a hilarious British comedy staring Chris O'Dowd. I wish I could find a better clip. In this one, Moss is entertaining business guests with his role-playing game. The suits are being whiny in this clip, but by the end of the episode, they're pretty into it.

And lastly, Freaks and Geeks:

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, the thing about D&D is that you HAVE to have some friends to play it. During the rash of rumors in the 80's about gaming being linked to Satanism and all sorts of other nonsense, someone (can't find it right now) did a study on the *actual* suicide rate among people who played Dungeons and Dragons and found it to be lower than in the general population- hypothesized that it was specifically because one of the best preventative measures for becoming socially isolated is to have support group of friends you spend time having fun with on a regular basis.

    Anyway, glad to have you on board :)


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