A few years shy of five decades since its initial release and after several variations and versions along the way, Dungeons and Dragons has returned to prominence in pop culture.
Commonly referred to as D&D, the game is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game in which players can create their own characters with personalized skills and backstories. The game is typically played in groups of four to six people.
Wizards of the Coast, the parent company of D&D, reported 2020 as its best year yet for the game with an increase in sales by 33%, continuing a multi-year trend of growth in the game’s sales, according to CNBC.
The growth has been present since the release of the D&D’s fifth edition in 2014.
D&D ON OHIO UNIVERSITY’S CAMPUS
Benjamin Klaus, a senior at Ohio University, was one of the first officers of the student organization Battles and Bobcats.
Klaus formed the group with other friends in 2019 to have a group devoted primarily to D&D as well as other tabletop games. Klaus says the group struggled during the pandemic but has since begun to thrive again.
“We didn’t really know what to do at the time because, at the time, I don’t think many of us knew of some of the online resources we could use. So, the club went on hiatus and was pretty much dead. It wasn’t until this year, [fall] semester, when the club was revitalized,” Klaus says.
Gathering around a table in person to play was very missed during the pandemic, as Klaus says operating online isn’t always the same.
Another aspect of D&D that Klaus enjoys is the personalization it allows in character customization and world-building as well as interacting with other players.
“It’s very gratifying because you get to sometimes take people out of their comfort zone or have them do out-of-the-box thinking. They get to have meaningful interactions … It’s catered to them. And when they enjoy it, it feels great because you feel like you did a good job,” Klaus says.
Local Community Groups Start Again
On Feb. 7, The Plains Public Library held its first in-person session since the library first shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Librarian Stacey Kimball helps organize the campaign as well as work on other teen programming. The D&D group meets once a week on Mondays and allows for players to rotate in and out of session as they wish or schedules permit.
Kimball says the most recent series of D&D campaigns began following a popular program at the library featuring another fantasy game, Magic: The Gathering, after another interested patron inquired about the game in 2016.
Kimball says her initial reaction was one of excitement after hearing little about the game since the first time she played in 1985.
“Oh, it’s totally different. I mean, just the fact that you can do so much more with the game now. And it really has become a more modernized version … It’s an ever-changing game. Playing in the ‘80s was just very simplistic as compared to this,” Kimball says.
Teamwork Building and Forming Friendships
As far as the campaign, Kimball says she prefers to participate as a player rather than a dungeon master, the title that belongs to the person who creates and steers the story for others.
Instead, Kimball wishes to allow other players to take the lead in the campaign and focus on collaboration among a party of champions.
She says what she enjoys the most is turning the campaign into a teaching opportunity and the game’s potential to be an area of growth for some participants.
“Some of the kids that I work with at the library, some of them don’t have a lot of social structure, and I think this gives them a lot. So, that was my main thing and, like I said, playing teamwork. Right, guys? Teamwork. If we have to kill that dragon sometimes, we’ll do it together,” Kimball says.