So there are two main reasons I play D&D:
- To hang out with good friends.
- To be more immersed in a story and adventure.
I have always been a guy with a small group of friends. Now I am not saying I was lonely or unpopular at school, in fact I was elected school captain one year, and I receive minor celebrity status in my last year at primary school for appearing all week on one of those kids game shows where I won a Sega Master System II. What I am saying is that I have always had a couple of good friends, and then a whole lot of other friends that I might run into and chat with, but not to hang out with or keep track of if our paths got separated. But once I got married (at 21, and I would recommend marriage to everyone who can find someone as cool as my wife) I found that my unmarried friends were hard to catch up with, and that married friends naturally have children which made it even harder to get our schedule to align.
So apart from irregular dinner dates, and helping friends move house etc, I found I wasn’t really socialising that much. Even when I did get a chance to hang out with a mate for a few hours we would spend that time playing a game like Halo or Star Craft or catching a movie. Which is great fun, but when my wife would ask “so how is his job going”, or about some other aspect of their life, I realised that we didn’t really interact with each other, it was time spent more focused on using the power sword to end their juggernaut streak or something similar.
Now I’m not saying that after a game of D&D that I now know when the last time they went to the doctor was, or even how they would vote in the next election, but we do interact more than other pastimes. We make stupid comments, we come away with something to tease them about (rolling a natural 1 in a stealth check is, for some reason, the players fault and always hilarious), we repeat the same dumb puns (I hit the dwarf as my miner action), and try to out do each other quoting Monty Python, the Simpson or making obscure references and seeing who catches it. My wife has been super supportive in me having this guy time (although some of the guys wives come along and play occasionally too), and I have been introduced to some guys who share my interests.
Now I communicate several times a day with members of my gaming group as we swap ideas, check rules, arrange the next session etc. I enjoy being a DM, crafting a world (borrowed heavily from all the fantasy stories I have been exposed to), and attempting to keep the players on my story arc. I also enjoy being a player, crafting a character (based heavily from my pantheon of fantasy heros), and attempting to derail the DM from his story arc. All this is so much more fun then waiting in an Xbox lobby to be matched to some random guys across the world, whom I would usually mute to avoid their crazy ranting, and will never interact with again. Just like multiplayer is usually more fun then just beating the computer, D&D is a step above just multiplaying.
Watching a movie is fun, an enjoyable experience where a visually stimulating and exciting experience is matched with inspiring music and performances. I especially loved Lord of the Rings, having read the book seven times (once I managed to read the whole series in under a week) I often imagined what it would be like if anyone ever made a movie of this awesome series. I have a really good memory for stories like this, and am one of those (possibly annoying) guys who picks up on changes to stories when they get made into movies. “I’m sure that in the book the other character said that line” or “Hey, they combined several characters into that one”. Not that I don’t enjoy the adapted movies, I appreciate that there are restrictions in making a movie that a novel just doesn’t have, which brings me to my point. Books have always been my favourite media. The theatre of my mind has better 3D and special effects than any Hollywood Blockbuster (I just wondered where that term ‘Blockbuster’ came from, and apparently it’s originally referring to a play that is so successful that competing theatres on the block are "busted" and driven out of business, thanks Wikipedia). But despite the wonderful characters and plots that I have experienced as an avid reader, there is something special about inhabiting that world yourself, with your character as your avatar.
Obviously the DM’s whose campaign’s I have played in are not as talented as Tolkien or Pratchett or Card when it comes to world creation, character development and oh so interesting stories, but the concept that I help mould these worlds, and affect their stories is just so rewarding. Even the latest computer games like Fable or Dragon Age with their many paths which allow the player to affect the world they inhabit is no match for a simple “hmmm, I jump out the window” or “yeah, I am sick of this guy talking, I am just going to attack him”. Movies and books have of course attributed to my Dungeon and Dragons playing experience, it is easy for the DM to describe a dungeon as “Like the pillared hall in the Mines of Moria” or a player to describe their character as “Think Sparhawk meets Drizzt”, a few simple descriptions and our minds are full of the images from movie scenes, with our own characters, which are essentially ourselves, now in centre stage.