Dungeons & Dragons – Impact on Gaming and Legacy

A couple of fairly interesting posts have recently gone up on the D&D Beyond website. The first one looks back at the lasting impact Dungeons & Dragons had on video games, and the second one revolves around maintaining the impressive legacy of the beloved roleplaying game decades after it originally released. Have a look:

And here’s a bit from the text transcript:

Todd Kenreck: The founders of D&D not only changed the game industry, they changed pop culture. I spoke with Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford about the impact of D&D.

Mike Mearls: In terms of game design, I mean, obviously, any game that uses levels owes a huge debt to essentially what I think of as the big breakthrough of Dungeons and Dragons. There are two. The first one being a game that really isn’t a game. It’s more a framework for a shared narrative, and this idea that you have a character who will change through success in the game. The scenario, though, the story or whatever that’s put in front of you, if you succeed, you gain something from that for your character that carries over to the next game. I don’t think a game had ever done that before.

Jeremy Crawford: Gary Gygax and Dave Arnison and their group of friends who helped develop D&D originally, it really was in many ways one of those lightning strikes in popular cultures, where this thing arose, this tabletop role playing game, where there really was nothing like it before. Elements of it certainly existed before. All of us have played make believe without needing rules to do so, and as far as we can tell, humans have played make believe as long as the species has been around. That, D&D certainly didn’t make up believe. Early D&D often used miniatures and had a grid that came from war gaming, so D&D didn’t invent that either.

Mike Mearls: I think it really comes from this fusion he had of being such a creative person, being such a storyteller, and then having a mind for war games at the time, games that simulated historical battles or theoretical battles in the future. This is the 60’s, the 70’s where the Cold War is in full swing. I think he was really the first person to bring those two things together to say rather than just rely on history as their guide point, rather than going back and saying, “What was the effectiveness of a T72 tank versus different weapons that NATO might fire at it?”, and say, “Well, let’s set aside history books, and let’s instead grab Fritz Leiber’s short stories and say that’s our reference book. Now, what kind of reality would we build from that.”

It’s just amazing to think that’s essentially what the mashup he did was. Take a war gaming approach to creating a fictional reality, a reality space that your game’s going to take place in, and then what are the rules of this reality? When you think of games up to that point, and to war games were invented, I think it was Charles Roberts who really created the first modern war game. War games were just the tools for teaching for military officers. Games people played were typically abstract like chess. They weren’t trying to capture a reality. It was an abstract version of reality, so bringing those two things together, that’s enormous. That’s modern gaming.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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