Playing D&D Brings Like-Minded People Together to Explore and Create
How players engage in the cultivation of their own gaming knowledge and strategy makes the difference in gaming strength
By award-winning Washington state author Paul Darvasi
Over the past few years I’ve helped lead high school educators in Seattle into engaging in the lifelong cultivation of their students’ entertainment, science, math, health, social studies, and even cognitive areas. When engaging students in the cultivation of gaming knowledge and strategy, I’ve not only learned something about their areas of focus but more importantly about how the student may engage in the cultivation process. By emerging from a family of D&D players, I was prepared to see the value of cultivating a character of immense virtue, heart, wisdom, and hard work by attracting one’s emphasis on their preferences in the culture of gaming.
Answers to the following questions came to me after I wrote my online article on “guild leadership style based on principles from the Dungeons & Dragons game” in which I explored how mentors and higher-ups influence the behavior of lower-level players, especially apprentices. Here are a few interesting facts that emerged in that discussion that I feel representative of how reading works on the learner or learner’s world, how G&D gets students interested in learning more about learning in general, and how a cultural fit or fit for history as a topic is resulting in wonder, enchantment, and deep interest in finding and creating things to play as these characters get their act together to accomplish the mission.
All of a sudden, drawing on a source of reality I never before knew existed and a cultural experience to which I had connected but which had never been relevant to my own life, learning about the magic and anticipation felt in writing an essay in D&D was an emotional release in itself. Understanding how creating your own world is as difficult as building the worlds one creates through D&D was vital information for an ambitious, independent, creative person to learn about. For me, that element of exploring my own imagination and developing an inherent creative instinct of mine provides a foundation that has been a permanent flash point for my own storytelling.
In my book, “Etymology of the Word ‘Dungeon,’” I discuss the evolutionary history of game description and D&D’s role in that evolution. Since D&D’s start in the late 1940s, I had known what a Dungeon Master and her guild stood for but the answer to my question provided for me, as a fiction writer, that phenomenon of standing on one’s own has no place in an author’s act of writing because authors must strive to create a perfect world. That world is something everyone can, and should, have and something of significance to the education of those to whom it goes.
No one can ever replace live collaboration with any other form of group interaction. By creating a place, a sense of belonging, a connection with other like-minded people, it becomes possible to explore and create again and again in another way and the consequence for the learner is that perhaps they will have a better understanding of who they are as individuals and what they are capable of. Playing D&D involves gathering all that passion to come together and become part of something, and the world created by an expert in D&D is the world we know today because that world was created for us by the various writers who have been able to prepare us for who we are.
Long ago, schoolteachers and literature teachers were able to encourage students to find some basic knowledge of one or more subjects, and then and only then could they lead them into the world of stories and novel approaches to those subjects. Thus, we are what we know, and the author can touch us by telling us who we are, where we are, and some way to continue as a part of a community. The physical consequences of growing up in a specific time and place can carry into today, and we are more than mere molecules; we have a Creator who creates all things for our happiness, social transformation, and the pursuit of pleasure and wisdom.