The rise in popularity for Dungeons & Dragons has garnered interests even towards the non-nerds. Of course, with all the podcasts and videos of celebrities playing D&D, it only makes sense that the game comes to light less of a “playing in my mom’s basement” thing and a bit more pop culture. Though, a lot of these games are still played in a mother’s basement of the sort, still.
I myself have been part of theatrics activities throughout my school year except for College (I went to Law, theatre wasn’t really a norm in law school) and have enjoyed a range of digital games and physical gameboards. But, I’ve only recently picked up D&D back in 2017. My interest comes from having a certain friend passionately explaining to me about the idea of sharing a fictional world together, creating a character and developing a background like he/she was your own. It was interesting for me to be able to work together with people in a fictional storyline, it reminded me a lot to what I’d imagine an open-world MMORPG would be (instead of having a set storyline, but a storyline that’s flexible and will react to your actions accordingly).
The thing about D&D, in my opinion, is that the learning curve is high. There’s a lot for you to learn and, if you really want to get into it, a lot of lore for you to read too. It’s not just about Deities and fantasy citizens, it’s about how one reacts to each other. It’s like learning an entirely new culture of people and having to portray it if you decided you’d pick their race for your own character.
However, if you’ve gone through that learning curve, D&D is one of the most fun games I’ve ever played with my close friends. Because of this, D&D has been my go-to creative outlet. The game has made me practice dwarf-accents in the shower a bit too many times, create a certain persona for shopkeepers in different villages has made my restroom breaks a bit more colourful too.
But most of all, D&D has taught me how to be a better leader. I’ve never shied away from taking a leadership role in the party whenever I’m in a D&D session, however being a leader doesn’t necessarily make you a good one. Countless hours in the table with the same people, tackling problems right in front of us has prepared me better as a leader than any kind of college organization I was involved in.
D&D taught me to assess my team’s strength and use my team’s strengths to tackle problems I normally wouldn’t be able to. If my party was filled with a lot of ranged characters that is horrible at close range combats, I’d find a way to set up the battlefield that will allow my team to play to their strengths when fighting an enemy. This mirrors well with what happens in real life as well. If I had a team filled with a lot of business law experts, our go-to solution would also play to their strengths instead of picking something none of us isn’t good at.
This, in hand, has made me a better listener too. To know what my party’s strengths are, it requires me to listen to my party members and talk about what they can and cannot do. This in turn has helped me decide a direction for the party to reach the optimal outcome and made better-informed decisions along the way.
D&D had taught me to be more assertive in a team-heavy environment. According to Marisha Ray, D&D fan favourite and creative director for Critical Role, “…playing this game has not only taught me to be much better and quicker at decision-making but to also be assertive as a leader,” because, according to her, if you’re stalwart in your assessments with reasonable explanations, the respect for your leadership will follow suit. It’s easy to lead with a popular decision, but it is much more difficult to enforce a decision that’s for the greater good but maybe off-putting to one or more team members. Having a firm grasp of what is the right decision at that moment in time makes for a much stronger leader and a better-led team.
Dungeons & Dragons is a lot of things, but from what I’ve experienced, it is not one thing. Dungeon & Dragons is not a waste of time. It has bonded friendships between strangers, it has been a go-to creative outlet for a lot of people, and it has made me and prepared me to be a better leader. If you’ve always wanted to try Dungeons & Dragons, don’t let the old stigma stops you, because even Vin Diesel is playing it!
Feat image via: dnd.wizards.com