Why We Game: D&D, online gaming and real life
It’s crazy how many people I know who would be so freaking fun and amazing at playing D&D and they don’t even know it. There is always the usual self-doubt about not knowing or fully understanding a game, and there is the matter of time and space away from everything, ie. phones, family, work, chores, etc. Most of the people I know who would be great at it and don’t even know are usually self-doubters much like I was before I started playing. The idea of starting a new game can be quite an uncomfortable situation and one that often leads many to fleeing the hobby altogether.
Let’s go back a minute. Okay. What is it that is so awesome about any other video game out there? Let’s take one of the most popular games out there today, shall we? World of Warcraft. Most people know of this game, it’s been around for many years. This game is pretty sick. You have awesome graphics, several options for players and playing styles, escapism, weather that changes, forests that mimic nature, random encounters and monsters that leave you on the edge of your seat. At least that is what it is designed to do for the players. My personal experience with World of Warcraft started out with these promises but ultimately left me unfulfilled. I found play time with friends became one-on-one time with other characters/monsters or ultimately time alone in another world at one’s computer that doesn’t necessarily touch on the “personal experience” I so longingly sought after with a game. I loved how friends could get together in a dungeon and fight monsters and also run about the world as other characters played around in the programmed forests and landscapes of the game. What I didn’t enjoy was that the designs were set before me and I could never add my own imagination or creativity to my adventure. I was only allowed to follow the basic layout and design of the game in front of my face as given to me by other creators.
I was also pretty unhappy with the face time given to the screen instead of eye contact with a friend, or the small details of game time that could separate friends/loved ones from “togetherness,” like accepting a friend request to join other guilds, or join a dungeon when family time outside of “the game world” was much more important (ie, life happens). Online games can take over one’s life in a sense because it’s not truly realistic to the give and flow of family life and/or personal lifestyle. One can go to work, pay bills, workout, but then there is a game. A game is something that can really connect people, like having a meal, for instance. We sit together, we eat, we feel satisfied, then we finish. In D&D you can do this. Come together, create an entire world of self design, creation and adventure and then pause when you need to, which is not always an option with online games.
The game can end today or can go on for years upon years without end. It all depends on the game. With today’s modern inventions of gaming, it seems almost rushed, like everything else in society (hence one of our downfalls of creation in general). Get to level 80 before the next expansion, finish this 4 to 6 hour dungeon with a guild and then get back to life with “those who matter most,” ie., family, friends, sunsets, full moons, sensual moments, a child’s random desire to show you something amazing, an idea coming from a friend or relative you just didn’t have time to hear, etc., or go out and experience the unauthentic connection to an online world that is incredibly separate and not a part of the one you live in.
The addiction of online gaming (from what I have witnessed personally) is both psychological as well as physical. You are mentally and physically zoned in to a world outside of your own, which excludes those around you who may feel disconnected from you.
Having said all of this (I know these are only my opinions), World of Warcraft really is an awesome game and one I think is a great escape as well as art piece. I have given many hours to the game and been to a convention around Blizzard Entertainment. It’s amazing and advanced and I love that it’s out there for people to play. Yet I still have to say that when people connect one on one and actually play face to face, there is a whole new atmosphere and energy about game time. Let me give you an example: ever Skyped with someone you missed but all you wanted to do was touch their face, kiss them and hear their voice right next to you? This is the difference between MMORPGs and D&D. It’s like seeing the rain but never allowing it to fall on your face, so to speak.
If you are completely new to role-playing games, then it may please you to know it can go much further than the normal fantasy-based setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Why not go steam punk? Ancient civilization? Modern civilization? Space age adventure, or anything else your mind can come up with. You could even make it about two dudes finding adventure on the way to a taco shop in downtown L.A. if you wanted to, and you would be amazed at the encounters and experiences those characters could find just in a few blocks. Have you ever been bored or anxious or angry because you wanted to experience something and you just didn’t know what it is? I strongly recommend D&D to get that itch out instead of spending thousands of dollars traveling to some remote place you know nothing about with zero control over what happens on your journey.
Be the creator of your own world and let the dice help design the adventure! Figure out what it is that you want to experience and then go out there and chase after it in game. Tell the Dungeon Master what you are seeking and/or what your character is feeling/going through and see what happens. I’ll bet you would set your head on your pillow that night feeling much more satisfied than you would if you just ate a pizza, watched Netflix alone and passed out.
You could wake up and face the day knowing you slayed dark beasts or found an amazing landscape that took your breath away, or met an interesting character you weren’t expecting, or perhaps faced a known fear of yours and passed unscathed. You can start your new day in this world, as you, no matter who knows you or what anyone thinks of you. You are indeed a freaking dragon slayer bad ass who conquers unknown fears and challenges! You can also feel so much satisfaction with knowing you weren’t alone and that your friends from the game have your back as companions and guardians. D&D helps us as humans realize we are so much freaking more than robots inside a money world! We are endless creations of our own imaginations in time and space. Chase that dream, that idea, that passion! It’s for a reason.
As always, Stay Nerdy!