Dungeons, Dragons and Stepen Colbert???

I never thought about the cultural impact of Dungeons & Dragons until I chanced upon a nice article by New York Times writer, Ethan Gilsdorf.  Entitled “A Game as Literary Tutorial,” the piece focuses on the powerful influence that Dungeons & Dragon had on a number of contemporary, and highly successful writers and entertainers.  According to the article, former gamers include none other than Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, Matt Groening, China Mieville and more. 

To quote Gilsdorf:  “What makes a D&D story different from novels and other narratives is its improvisational and responsive nature. Plotlines are decided as a group.”  What an interesting combination of the competitive with the collaborative. To me, it’s a bit like a poetry slam meets Homer (think the Odyssey; not Springfield).

 I was never a D&D guy but I have always admired its ability to appeal to three generations and counting with its game of competitive storytelling.  Now, thanks to Ethan Gilsdorf, I now also recognize D&D’s importance in imbuing society with a notion that great things happen when people compete collaboratively.

Are you a former D&D player?  Let us know if it shaped your life.

4 thoughts

  1. Loved that game. I was in D&D summer camps. My warlock’s name was Thor. I am a geek.
    At one point, I was a dungeon master, which in our circle just meant that I would draw the environment on graph paper, flip through my D&D books and choose monsters and other challenges to face, then let my friends “walk” through it. It was a real life “Choose Your Own Adventure” that was limited only by my imagination and the luck of the dice. Looking back, it did promote creativity and imagination to a far greater degree than most of the other toys we used.
    The problem was that it wasn’t the most popular with the girls … so ended my D&D career.
    Love Stephen Colbert more now, that is for sure!

  2. Great article! While I too was never a D&D player, many successful video game titles have used the same format of competitive storytelling by allowing the player to choose multiple characters that lead to different outcomes for the story, characters and world. We will be utilizing this amazing format as well..

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