Feature

'Dungeons and Dragons': A new middle-age craze?

Salon's Ethan Gilsdorf says he has rediscovered the role-playing game — and plenty of other 40-somethings are rolling their 20-sided dice again, too

Dungeons & Dragons, the Reagan-era role-playing game, is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. In fact, says Ethan Gilsdorf at Salon, some 25 years after its heyday, "the game has finally come into its own as a powerful cultural force." Since its creation in 1974, the game has been "instrumental" in the way sci-fi spreads through pop culture. And the "geeks" who grew up with the game now create the movies, television, music, and video games we all consume. Now, plenty of parents are "re-geeking" themselves, and reintegrating the game of their youth. Here, an excerpt:

Pure and simple, for many, D&D represents a lost age: It was an individualized, user-driven, DIY, human-scaled creative space separate from the world of adults and the intrusion of corporate forces. ... D&D recalls that day "before orcs and wookies were the intellectual property of vast transmedia corporations." Back when you had lots more free time than money — before girlfriends, job, kids. Life.

But by playing RPGs (role-playing games) … I also learned to be confident and decisive, and to feel powerful. Even to feel cocky. Some of the guts and nerve I role-played began to leak into the real world. By the time I graduated high school, I had transformed. I had used escapist fantasy to gather strength for later, when I was ready to come out of my shell. In this sense, the wave of nostalgia I've felt also springs from a desire to pay tribute to D&D. To thank the game for the gifts of creativity and self-actualization it bestowed upon us.

Read the entire article in Salon.

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