The views and opinions expressed in O'Keefe's Briefs(tm) are not necessarily those of The Management. In fact, they are very likely not even the views and opinions of the writer, the typeface designer, god or the President of the United States. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who shares the extraordinary worldview expressed below, and should you, run. Far and fast. The Management would also like to point out that any references or similarities to any persons living, dead, or undead are entirely coincidental since we all know there are no such things as zombies anyhow.

Monday, March 4, 2013

In Defense of Dungeons and Dragons

Today is both International Game Master’s Day and the 5th anniversary of Gary Gygax’s death . How appropriate that he should pass on this date? I mean, what are the odds1?

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the Dungeons and Dragons game and the people who play it. It’s been blamed for, or associated with, suicides, murders, witchcraft, satanism, and gods know what else. Players of D&D have been stereotyped as losers, loners and outcasts. (Because nothing says loner better than someone who regularly gets together with friends to hang out and play games.)

D&D is a game. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s interesting to note how video games have borne the brunt of the negative press recently. As video games have become more prevalent in our society, they have taken D&D’s place as the media’s bogeyman when it comes to a young (and sometimes not so young) person committing some horrendous crime or another. What’s next? She was eating broccoli before her murderous rampage. That must be the cause. All sources indicate that she was a vegetarian and rather enjoyed broccoli. BAN BROCCOLI!2

Most of the stereotyping comes from the fact that it’s a Role Playing Game. Meaning simply that you take on a role to play in the game world. But then, aren’t most games? When you play Call of Duty are you not playing the role of a soldier? Granted, it’s more likely that a soldier will play CoD than a wizard play D&D, but you get the point. When you play Monopoly, you play the role of a real estate tycoon; and just because you win at the game of life doesn’t mean you’re not in reality a loser. If you lack the necessary imagination to play a game in which your character is a half-orc wizard or an dwarven thief, that’s on you.

Games are games, and the people who play them know that. Sure, the rules of D&D are fairly complex, the dice more numerous. (No one told me there’d be math!) D&D is a game, plain and simple. It is a cooperative rather than a competitive one, something which people have theorized goes against a sort of essential Americanness3.

This cooperative play in turn requires one player to act as the umpire. Someone to run the game mechanics and make judgement calls regarding the often contradictory or ambiguous rules. Hey! There’s a reason that there are 4 different editions of the D&D rules, and another on the way. Each one I believe is an attempt to streamline the game, to make it easier to play while retaining the flavor of the game.

In a RPG, this player-umpire is called the Game Master (or in D&D’s case the Dungeon Master). And for every hour you play, the GM has put in two or three (or more!) hours to make sure the game goes smoothly, and everyone has fun.

So on this International Game Master’s Day be sure to thank your game master4. If you don’t have a game master, go find one. People who play RPGs, tend to be fairly inclusive and welcoming. Which I think is more than can be said of some online gaming communities. n00bs.

Also fuck orcs.

1 - Gary Gygax was co-creator of D&D. FYI. And yeah, I know, roughly .27% taking no additional outside factors into consideration. All days being equal, etc...
2 - Really. Shit’s gross and makes you gassy.
3 - It has been theorized that the reason soccer isn’t more popular in the US is that it allows for a tie whereas the American psyche is geared more towards win/lose scenarios.
4 - I accept bills of small denominations with non-sequential serial numbers.