When you hear dungeons and dragons, you probably immediately picture a bunch of nerds sitting around in a basement on a Saturday night with nowhere else to go, and while sometimes that can be true, it is also a wildly incorrect stereotype. All sorts of people enjoy the game, from celebrities to athletes to many, many more people that you wouldn’t believe. But what is it that makes the game so fun, so attractive to all these different people from all sorts of walks of life?
For one, sometimes it can be an escape, from the trials and judgments of the ordinary world, where for an hour or more, none of that matters at all. You can be whoever and whatever you want, and so can everyone else playing alongside you. You aren’t judged for this choice, and no matter what your character looks like, everyone will treat you like you matter and have value. The game teaches acceptance, because when it all comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what anyone looks like, but who they are underneath and what they have to offer to the group.
Speaking of the group, you learn to work as a team and succeed together, finding that trying to do everything alone without asking for help is a straight road to failure unless you get lucky. You have to discuss and debate your plans, come to an agreement as a group and learn to enact that plan as a team, a skill that is actually quite useful in many career paths. As the Dungeon Master, who is essentially the narrator, wrangles all of these players, schedules when you will play, and manages the entire world in which you get to run wild within, you learn plenty about the art of management. You have to manage a medium to large group of people, as well as hundreds of assorted bits of information, while making sure that each player is satisfied with the narrative you are providing. It is all a lot of work, and really prepares you for the rest of your life.
If all of these concrete, useful skills weren’t enough for just about anyone to give the experience a try, it can create some of the tightest of friendships and stories that you will remember for the rest of your life. There are things that have happened in a game that I genuinely feel as though I have lived through, and sometimes the funniest things I’ve ever done with my friends happened in our collective imaginations. This is something so amazing that it’s hard to believe it is possible without experiencing it. It can be surreal at times, and the game is the most open and wonderful thing you could ever try in your life… at least until virtual reality gets to the point where you can just live in your own imagination.