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  • 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.

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