20 January 2014

A Passion of a Lifetime: 40 Years of D&D and the Role-Playing Game Industry

It is the 40th anniversary of the publication of the mother of all cult games, Dungeons & Dragons!

Well, not today per se, but now-ish. There exists, to the best of my knowledge, no precise date recorded for when the game first went on sale, but it's believed to be around January 1974 (see, for example, this blog).

D&D, of course, kick-started the whole tabletop role-playing game phenomenon. The impact this had on geekdom in general, and for me personally, has of course been, well, phenomenal. So the anniversary is about much more than a single game, it's about an entire hobby and industry.

RPGs have, of course, come a long way since those original D&D rules (as has D&D itself). The variety out there for gamers to choose from is simply staggering, from highly technical miniatures based games to creative, free form storytelling games. But they all can be traced back to this one box and its three little booklets of rules.

Who would I be without RPGs? I honestly have no idea. They have been one of my most important hobbies, if not the most important, since I was a teenager. Particularly important is that it's a social hobby. I, as an introvert, have precious few social outlets in my life that I feel comfortable with. If it weren't for RPGs, I'm not sure I'd ever really meet anyone face to face.

I game mastered one of my own campaigns just yesterday. Next weekend I'll be playing in a friend's long running campaign. Neither is a D&D game, and stylistically probably pretty far from the early days of the game. But in a couple weeks I'll be running my Pathfinder game again as well, which is of course a direct descendant of those original rules. Variety is the spice of life, they say. And there are few hobbies with more potential for variety.

I know I'll be playing RPGs for a long, long time to come. Thank you, Gygax and Arneson. It was indeed, as Gygax once wrote in a letter, 'a reallu superp game'.

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