Thursday, November 05, 2009

Zac leaps to the defense of Dungeons & Dragons yet again

I regard it as one of my moral duties to respond whenever I see players of Dungeons & Dragons used as some sort of rhetorical shorthand for immaturity or social ineptitude. In this thread on Rod Dreher's blog, he asks "Why are there no old Randians?" A commenter responds:

For the same reason there are no old Dungeons and Dragons players - eventually they find someone to date and what with the new experience of intimate human contact and socialization, their previous hobby sort of falls by the wayside.

Except, as Sharon noted above, when two hobbyists hook up and reinforce each other.

To which I responded:

I must, once again, correct some notions about the players of Dungeons & Dragons. I'm 35, married, have a 3-year-old son, and I play D&D regularly. Most of the people I play with are in similar situations. While many people did stop playing Dungeons & Dragons after its fadish burst of mainstream popularity in the mid-1980's, I think D&D's retention rate is reasonably high. I bet proportionally more people stop playing soccer when they "grow up" than stop playing Dungeons & Dragons. My role-playing hobby continued merrily through my first kiss, my first girlfriend, my wedding, the birth of my son, and numerous other markers of social maturity. And none of the people involved in those milestones were gamers. D&D it isn't something I do because I don't have other options. Of course, the way I play D&D now is different than when I played when I was 8, just as the books I read are different now. But Dungeons & Dragons was rich enough to "bring with me" into maturity.

From the discussion here, it seems that Randian philosophy has a harder time surviving the transition to full adulthood, because unlike D&D, it seems incompatible with the feeling of compassion and a sense of responsibility towards others. But perhaps there are some things there worth carrying forward; I don't know her work well enough to say.

Shorter version: Please don't use Dungeons & Dragons as shorthand for social ineptitude or something that all mature people ought to throw aside.

So there. It just seems very out-of-touch to me to mock geekiness. It is so mainstream now. World of Warcraft has bajillions of people playing it, and it is, at heart, very similar to online Dungeons & Dragons (or rather a subset of Dungeons & Dragons, plus a lot of online community dynamics.)

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