Sunday, March 2, 2008


Jeff just ruined my day. I suppose I can forgive this unintentional transgression by considering the fact that he maintains one of my favorite blogs here in the blogosphere at :


As far as I’m concerned, the guy’s a gaming genius. Granted, this post is over two years old, but nevertheless he really pissed in my cornflakes this morning when I found this post:


Hopefully he won’t mind my linking said blog here, I cannot even begin to associate my own blog with his excellent long running Gameblog.

Anyway, the meat of the post is:

Let's get this out on the table: D&D was a fad in the mid-eighties. Nothing more, nothing less. Like any other fad a handful of social misfits continued to hold it near and dear to their hearts long after the rest of the world stopped caring. You and I are those rejects. And our beloved hobby will almost assuredly never reach the heights it did back in the day. Just get over it, please! Don't attempt to position RPGs in the mainstream. They were already there and the mainstream world moved on.

In many respects, Jeff is 100% dead on. Regardless, his comments were like a big downer for my sensibilities concerning the greatest game ever. I’ll admit that yeah, it was a fad in many aspects. There was a great media fueled spotlight that was placed on the game in the late 70’s/early 80’s, 99% of which was negative publicity. As it turned out, the old adage of any pub is good pub was true for D&D. It soared to heights never seen by any game of it’s ilk before. Keep in mind that in saying ‘ilk’ I am referring to hobbyist type games in general, before D&D these were pretty much limited to old school wargames.

I suppose that over the years I have come to accept this fact, that D&D simply isn’t going to ever capture the hearts and minds of potential game geeks the way it did in those halcyon days. When that landscape is littered with mega million dollar video and computer game corporations, insidiously sinking their talons into these young souls and destroying their creative nature at such a young age, who can argue with this fact? We live in an era of instant gratification, fueled by hundreds of TV channels, DVR’s, video on demand, internet instant information retrieval, and well…fast food.

The notion that some youngster might want to actually take the time to read a book, even a comic book, let alone DESIGN a campaign and find other like minded kids to join in on a pen and paper, dice rolling excursion into old fashioned role playing is naïve at best.

These are my own views on gaming today, and I too have succumbed in the past to the allure of video and computer games. I honestly doubt that if I grew up in this day and age I would ever have the patience to discover the joys of pen and paper gaming without proper guidance and exposure from some wiser soul.

What irks me is that I don’t think D&D should ever be forgotten. I just don’t think that the game gets it’s proper due.

D&D forever changed the landscape of gaming.

Fad? Yeah, I suppose it was. The notion that it should be remembered as simply a fad deeply disturbs me. To Jeff’s credit, the true intent and message of his post was not to write off D&D as simply a fad, but to send a message that D&D simply is NOT ever going to return to the peak it reached in the 80’s. With this observation I cannot argue. That is a fact.

It saddens me to think that D&D might indeed be viewed as simply an 80’s fad, though. I’ll say it again since it bears repeating:

D&D forever changed the landscape of gaming.

From where I stand, D&D was the jumping off point for gaming as we know it today. While others might argue this point, and say that it can be traced back to wargames in general, or Tolkein, or REH or other great influences, D&D by Gygax and Arneson was the untamed barbarian from the frozen North (Midwest) that rampaged, pillaged and conquered gaming. It’s essence is found everywhere in gaming today. The very notion of role playing, of classes, levels, races, experience, hit points, quests, and dungeons might still to this day be uncharted territory were it not for D&D. Yes, D&D had it’s own influences and inspirations that birthed it’s existence, but it was the game that started it all, the first one to really capture the throne and reign supreme.

Without D&D, would we have such games as Diablo, World of Warcraft, or any of the other direct descendants that owe so much to D&D? No. I would even go so far to say that Mr. Garfield never would have developed Magic the Gathering were it not for D&D. D&D made gamers out of so many of us. I doubt I would even consider myself a gamer were it not for D&D. Nearly every game I have ever enjoyed was spawned by D&D. Period.

The thought of D&D as a fad, though, is like saying Punk Rock was a fad. Or Monty Python was a fad. Or…OK I give up. It was a fad. Jeff and Travis Bickle were right.

(But damn, what a fad it was. Luckily in this age of hundreds of TV channels, DVR’s, video on demand, and internet instant information retrieval, I can relive many of these fads ad nauseam.)



Jeff Rients said...

Sorry to bring you down, man. :( When I wrote that rant I was irked by the people who have been saying for years that we are one big game away from a new influx of talent. If I tackled that subject matter again, I'd probably focus more on the fact that we can already recruit awesome new people one gamer at a time and that waiting for the latest new thing to do the job for us is just laziness.

Sham aka Dave said...

Jeff, I was just shamelessly using your observation to make some of my own observations about D&D. The spirit and intent of your post is dead-on, as I mentioned in this post. By snipping your original post I was able to almost misquote you, and your original intent. But, I got your message loud and clear, and agree with it 100%. It's odd, and sad that Gary Gygax passed away a couple days after I wrote this.