Dungeons and Dragons: What is it?


Jose Gama, Staff Writer

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was, for a  long time, a misunderstood board game. Starting as a game developed by a couple of friends, to being called a satanic game, to now being the game featured in the show Stranger Things; The game has evolved quite a bit, in how it is played and how it is viewed.

The earliest version of D&D was a board game called Chainmail, which was strictly based in the medieval era. The precursor to D&D used armies rather than individuals, which would later be changed by the creators of the current game. Fantasy would be added to the game, with inspiration from The Lord of the Rings. History, pulp fiction, and mythology from around the world would all be influences for the game.

The earliest official version of the game was released in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The budget was low and the sales were minimal, standing at around $2,000 and selling around 1,000 copies in the first year. An alternative version was released in 1977, called Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set. This version of the game was much less complex and appealed to a broader audience rather than just diehard fans. Rules and way the games was played varied, and this divided the game for coming decades. The basic game allowed more improvisation, meaning that players were less restricted to rules.

The basic version of D&D was revised in 1981, making it even friendlier to new players. Meanwhile, revised versions of the advanced D&D would create even more mechanics for their player base. The second edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons would receive lots of criticism and backlash from Christian associations, who disapproved of the use of demons, evil characters, and sexualization in artwork used in the game. Later in the game’s history, many would try to link D&D to murders and other tragedies. 

The latest edition of the board game was released in 2014, and is the 5th edition of D&D. Today, the game is played by millions of people in North America alone. The game has also been featured in shows like The Big Bang Theory and Stranger Things. D&D has gone through quite a rollercoaster in terms of mainstream acceptance. 

An Arcadia High School student who plays D&D shared his thoughts about why he enjoys playing the game.

“The fact that the game is entirely up to what you make of it,” said freshman Brady Duboe. “Since it is entirely imaginary for the most part, the game can be manipulated to suit the interest of everyone at the table. It’s a game entirely meant for the enjoyment and immersion of the players, which cannot be said for a lot of other activities out there.” 

Arcadia Biology teacher Ms. Pisano is a fan of the game and shared what she loves about it.

“D&D is a fun outlet that promotes critical thinking, creativity, improvisation, social skills, and even math. It is a connection where people can collaborate with the most minimal of technology or expensive pieces. I am able to connect with people all over the world that normally I would have no chance to speak to. There are so many levels to D&D that there is less ability to ‘gatekeep’ new players, but older players can still dig into the weeds of the rules if they want to.” 

D&D is a game that is much more free and lets you use your imagination on the go. The players don’t feel so restricted to rules and outcomes are different every time you play. It has come quite a long way from its original edition in 1974. The player base has grown from just fantasy fans to people who have no knowledge about the fantasy world.