Anxiety, depression, isolation, blues… In a world where the pandemic hasn’t helped, many are looking to engage in activities that allow them to reconnect with well-being and calm. And while gaming is a great way to clear your head, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) definitely has a little something extra. Proof by four.
1. We play together
At the festival of the biggest clichés long associated with role-playing games, the one that criticized D&D for promoting isolation is undoubtedly the most absurd for an activity that is by definition social. If the game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974 has more than 50 million players worldwide today, it is primarily because nothing can replace the pure pleasure of gathering at regular intervals around a table, whether physical or virtual –depending on the confinements, D&D will have saved many dull evenings from depression and monotony over the past two years, thanks to the grace of broadband.
Hanging out with friends after a long week of taking down a particularly beefy dragon or dark prince is not only pure player enjoyment, but a great way to clear your head and let go of the pressure. Any old D20 regular will tell you: the memories and friendships that are forged around a game of D&D and its rituals last a lifetime.
A good table, good friends and a great adventure, it’s like a refuge in the mountains: you’re comfortable and warm there while the weather is blowing outside. But that’s level 1.
2. One for all and all for one
At level 2, D&D has a characteristic that it shares with many role-playing games: all games are based on collaboration, not competition. The idea of finishing first, winning alone or beating the other players makes no sense. Here again, it is the very nature of the game that requires this: in D&D, the players each embody a character in an adventure that is not all mapped out, far from it.
To succeed in facing the gaggle of monsters, puzzles and pitfalls that the Dungeon Master (DM) presents them every three meters, generally with a big amused smile, you have to improvise, and improvise together to progress, win levels and advance his character – therefore the whole group. Without the Cleric whose spells will heal his wounds, your Barbarian doesn’t stand a chance. Without the Rogue who will be able to pick the lock of the damn door that the Paladin struggles to force without success, the adventure is cut short. And without the chat of the Rogue or the certainly strange knowledge of the Occultist or the Monk of the group, the small community is likely to crash in style at the first NPC (for “non-player character”, a sort of “extra” in the story presented and controlled by the DM) a little devious.
D&D is not competitive, making the most money or dominating the most territories (aaaah, Risk) like in many board games doesn’t make sense. From where a gaggle of unforeseen, surprising and funny moments, from where especially a beautiful lesson on the complementarity of the ones and the others in a group, and on the virtues of the difference. Here again, camaraderie, like being able to count on others and vice versa, is good for morale and confidence. And self-esteem, because damn it, you don’t fall a Brazen Dragon like that.
3. The table, a “safe space”
Over fifty years, D&D has evolved, and so have its players. As no one knows what baggage everyone is sitting at the table with – their fears, their phobias, their bad memories, their discomforts – modern campaigns tend to always plan a “zero session” before embarking on the actual adventure. say.
This is the time when everyone creates their character, but it’s also when we discuss the setting, its borders and everything that can make a player uncomfortable during a game. And without judgment: a DM who learns that one of his players hates spiders will adapt his scenario to avoid confronting him with a spider monster.
We are looking for excitement, a minimum of fear, of course – but not discomfort and even less anxiety. This is what allows everyone to find their way around, to assert themselves around the table without fear of a bad surprise. Please note: D&D cannot in any way replace the work of a mental health professional. But the DM is there to take care of the grain and make each game a good time.
4. Be yourself but differently
But the greatest asset of D&D has been built over time, with the players too. Tolkien-style fantasy lovers or Conan from the first times have been joined by new generations of practitioners who have arrived with their own expectations and their own universes. The somewhat stereotypical world of the early years has been succeeded by an increasingly rich, increasingly complex multiverse, increasingly respectful of differences as well.
Warning: there will always be abominable monsters more horrible than each other – filthy ghouls – but D&D has freed itself from the simplism of the first times to gain in depth, diversity and complexity. With a objective assumed and again repeated recently by its publisher Wizards of the Coast: break with certain easy or hurtful stereotypes to allow everyone to find their way around and embody the character who sings to them as they please.
Today, the world of D&D is not just a very – too – Eurocentric “medieval fantasy” version of our reality. An example? Curse of Strahd, one of D&D’s emblematic scenarios set in a universe that evokes the Carpathians version of Dracula, was not necessarily delicate when describing the Vistani, a fictitious people but endowed with the traits of gypsy culture – unfortunately even caricature . Current reissues are gradually correcting these facilities to make the D&D universe more representative – helping to make each table a respectful place for collective construction.
Everyone can draw from hundreds of different peoples and creatures, without limit, to become the character of their choice. And pounding Tarascans, of course. I promise, it’s relaxing.
Source: Slate.fr by www.slate.fr.
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