D&D and Me: Playtime never ends
All this month we’re asking our various Dungeonmastering.com contributors what D&D means to them, whether its delving into their Geek past, looking at how the game currently manifests itself in their lives, or wondering what the future with it holds. Here is Matt Forcella’s, from One Die Short:
We all have great moments of clarity in our lives: moments when the world comes into focus around us, when we gaze deep into our murky innards and realize something so foundational, so basic about ourselves, that we find ourselves wondering, “How did I not see this sooner?”
I’ve had a lot of these moments in my life, and one of them was brought about through the exploration of Dungeons & Dragons. Fellow roleplayers may not see this statement as terribly strange, but that’s not so for most of the population. If I had said baseball changed my life, or rock and roll changed my life, or even Star Wars changed my life, people would have more understanding; they would be able to connect to the idea on some level. But a game? How could a game change anyone’s life? Monopoly never altered a person’s worldview (unless we’re talking about grooming them for being successful landlords, or maybe mafia kingpins). So how can Dungeons & Dragons change anyone’s life?
My story of discovering D&D will be familiar to many people. I won’t go into the details of my awkward Middle School years or the rumors of my satanic proclivities, as much of it will be a rehash of what a lot of people have said before me (except for the rumors that I enjoyed circumcising rats, that might be unique to my experience). D&D gave me a creative outlet, and a way to meaningfully connect with new and interesting friends. It made Middle School bearable, but that’s not the biggest reason D&D is important to me.
We exist in a culture that attempts to draw a line between childhood and adulthood. A lot of people find different places to lay down that line. Adolescents often feel that they’ve found some form of adulthood when they can drive, or drink, or after they graduate, while their parents like to think adulthood doesn’t happen until you’re married with children, and even that’s suspect. Regardless of where you place the line, there is a common theme woven through most conceptions of adulthood. As you transition into adulthood, you leave play behind. You give up your toys, stop playing cops and robbers, and learn how to socialize like proper adults.
More than anything else, Dungeons & Dragons represents a deep connection to my undying, inner-child. Every year I continue to play D&D I reaffirm the importance of imagination. I am telling myself that I will never stop playing pretend. A part of me will be a child forever. It’s the part that helps me to not take life too seriously. It helps me keep my brain elastic and remain open-minded. And most important of all, it helps me to stay in touch with the sense of wonder and excitement every child has, that many people seem to lose somewhere between their first broken heart and 9 to 5.