All I Really Needed to Know About Games I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons [08.18.09]
- Lewis Pulsipher
Robert Fulghum's essay All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten has inspired people since the late '80s. With compliments to him, here is, in expanded title --
All I Really Needed to Know About Designing and Playing (Video) Games I Learned from Gary Gygax's Dungeons & Dragons.
As a designer:
- You don't need high-level technology to make an "immersive" game.
- For human/psychological games (as opposed to computer-mediated challenge games), players enjoy the journey, not the destination.
- Some people like to be told stories; others like to make their own.
- The objective is to make the players think their characters are going to die, not to kill them.
- We all like to improve.
- User-generated content enriches a game immensely. (In this case, adventures, monsters, classes, etc.)
As a player:
- It's more fun with more than one person.
- Cooperation is required for survival.
- Think before you leap.
- Get organized!
- Don't run headlong where you've never been.
- Keep track of the stuff you've got; otherwise you may forget something that could save your butt.
- Always have a viable "Plan B".
- Always have a way out.
- Don't depend on luck!
This makes a rather short article, so I'll break the poet's rule and explicate:
Many writers have pointed out how much video games owe to Dungeons & Dragons. I confess it didn't teach me all of these things, as I'd been playing games for many years before I encountered D&D, but the game nonetheless well illustrates these points.