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Observations from the World of Dungeons and Dragons

Now, I proudly describe myself as a nerd, and each one of my two roommates also describes themselves as nerds. I want to tell you about my experience watching and slightly participating in my roommates’ D&D (dungeons and dragons) campaign. Let’s start off with some *background information. For the past several months, my two roommates have been putting on D&D nights at our apartment every Thursday. If you don’t know what Dungeons and Dragons is, well, here’s a link to the official site, so you can learn more. Essentially, this is a tabletop role playing game where each person’s respective characters go on adventures and accomplish goals. Sometimes there are massive battles or fights to the death, and other times party members will spend four hours merely exploring the imaginative world and its history. D&D is much like any adventure role play video game, the only difference is that you the player are acting as the character in real life. Part of the fun of playing D&D is the personal aspect that comes into fruition through this distinctive type of role playing—you don’t just play as your character you become the character.

*It should be noted that all of this information is coming from me, a person who has never formally played D&D but instead has made a bunch of witty remarks, consultations, and general teasing.

Watching a small herd of nerds excitedly role play as their own distinct characters is just as entertaining as watching reality TV. There is swearing, backstabbing, cheers, fights, drama, and laughs. To summarize D&D: it’s basically the best live action, nerd entertainment you could ever get. The excitement surrounding rolling a natural 20 (rolling a 20 on a 20 sided dice) is unreal. There is cheers and high-fives, and it is basically a total celebration. This form of entertainment is not only fun, but also a great way to test the limits of friendship (much like a heated game of monopoly will) and practice one’s critical thinking skills.

Through watching this weird little ecosystem of nerds pretending to play giants, warlocks, and elves, I’ve learned a bit about imagination as an adult. As I’ve grown up the phrase “act your age” has made its way into my ears more often than I like to admit, and I’m sure most of this D&D group has heard something similar. Imaginative play is important for developing interpersonal skills. Through role-playing different characters, my roommates practice social skills, problem solving, and creative thinking. All the while, they are enjoying their time and further developing their individual characters— and maybe even themselves. Through the weekly D&D nights I’ve watched my roommates’ friendships intensify, and their confidence go up. As an outsider looking into this D&D ecosystem, I applaud my nerdy roommates and friends. Their stories are hilarious and entertaining. The suspense of who could wind up basically dead is always present over the campaign, and the different goals each individual has is always just over the next horizon. Overall, being spectator on a D&D campaign is like being emotionally invested in a really well done television series. You have your favourite characters, favourite enemies, and you get to experience all the moments that create the drama of the campaign. The only difference is the action is unfolding in real time, right in front of you— and sometimes random items get thrown across the room.


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Madison is a Fourth year English major at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. When she isn't buried under a pile of books and papers, you can usually find Madison scrolling through social media, journaling, or enjoying the nerd life. Find her on Instagram @cupsofsilver.
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