RPGs Get Creative
It’s Day One at my 18th (or maybe 19th) South by Southwest Interactive Conference and Festival. A bit later today, I’ll head down to the Austin Convention Center and begin wading into the abundance of human creativity.
With that as my backdrop this week, I thought I’d share a few stories about creativity, role-playing, and games.
Over the past five issues Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch’s Rat Queens has quickly become one of my favorite comics on the stands. The story of four Dungeons & Dragons-style adventurers who claim to protect the town while actually being the biggest possible threat to the peace is hilarious, brutal and action-packed, and more often than not, it’s all three at the same time.
In a world where imagination is dwindling, role-playing games such as “Dungeons & Dragons” offer gaming enthusiasts a chance to escape reality and battle monsters, use magic and perfect their combat skills. The theatre department at Sonoma State has decided to explore the world of D&D with their upcoming production of “She Kills Monsters.”
Fans of the table-top fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons are celebrating its 40th birthday this year. Somerville geek-culture writer (and Cognoscenti contributor) Ethan Gilsdorf is one of them. He played as a teen in the 1970s and ’80s. But now, at age 47, Gilsdorf is on a quest to vanquish D&D’s nerdy baggage by highlighting the role-playing game’s unique powers. He says it can unleash unbridled creativity
ED Note: I’m also on a quest to kill the idea that role-playing games and D&D are geeky. They are part of the mainstream now, and the sooner we acknowledge that the better we’ll all be.
In 1979, a Michigan State student named James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from campus. Egbert was a Dungeons & Dragons fan, and the media latched onto speculations that he had died in the campus’ steam tunnels while playing a live-action version of the game. A moral panic over role-playing games was just getting underway, and the rhetoric around the case tended toward the Gothic.
ED note: In the Second Edition, we’ve included a bit more about Egbert’s story, which was transformative for me in my D&D playing years. My mother, who at the time was a bit concerned about the game, asked me to read The Dungeon Master. She never asked me to stop playing the game, but she was concerned.
The book didn’t discourage me from playing. It had the opposite effect. Instead, I wanted to go play D&D in sewers. (Even as a young high school student, I had a great skepticism that D&D was the cause of the young man’s problem.)