Read a book!

Okay, so. Standard apology for lack of updates. Real Life does that to you. Indeed, isn’t this why we play RPGs? (Actually, I just remembered that I was going to do a post on escapism… Later, after I see Iron Man 2, maybe?)

But anyway, I was looking through Neuroglyph’s blog when I saw this. It’s a highly simplified D&D mini-game “for kids” they say, but you know what? I think this hobby needs more kids. Let’s face it, kids love stuff like Harry Potter, and movies like How to Train Your Dragon are probably also going to get their attention.

The mini-game itself, The Heroes of Hesiod, is little more than an advertisement for their new Monster Slayers novel, but… that’s okay. See, I go easy on the consumerist tendencies of this hobby than I do on other hobbies, for the simple fact that… RPGs are trying to sell books. You have to read a book. I strongly feel that children don’t read enough, hell, that people in general don’t read enough, so anything, anything that gets them reading? I consider it a good thing. Put simply, if I had kids, and they spent more free time screwing around with D&D than playing video games? I’d consider myself having succeeded as a parent. They’ll get more out of this than they would the latest Pokemon entry, at any rate…

So yes, it’s simple, it’s silly, but sometimes, simple and silly works. And it lead me to this: Dungeons & Dragons in the library, and let me tell you, if my library had Dungeons & Dragons, I’d have gone there a lot more often. The founder of the program, Nikol Price,  actually started it to counter Runescape’s popularity on her library’s computers, and to her, I say, “You are a true hero, and your legend will never die.”

You know what? I’m going to talk about this. Over the years, Dungeons & Dragons in particular, and RPGs in general have gotten a lot of crap from the mainstream press and from watchdog groups about its influence on younger people. This baffles me, as rarely do video games and children’s programming get this same kind of scrutiny. See, I have a big issue with modern games, and that is, they exist to sell more games and more useless stuff. The rise in popularity of Korean-model online games (Short version: They were using micro transactions long before “micro transactions” ever became a buzzword…) has led to games that are not only costly, but ones that are, simply put, nothing more than advertisements for themselves. Most troubling are the games where you can purchase cash shop items and features that are better than anything you can get in the game otherwise.

I know companies need to make money, but this? This is exploitative. This is taking people who don’t know anything about the world, and attempting to craft them into consumerists before they’re even old enough to work. I find it distasteful at the best of times, and disgusting at the worst.

I mean, yes, D&D can get expensive. And yes, D&D has its exploitative moments. What do you expect? It’s owned by Wizards of the Coast, who also own Magic: The Gathering. If your children spend all their money on Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, and you never knew who to blame for your pain? Well, now you do.

But even with its less positive moments, Dungeons & Dragons is still an incredibly empowering and fun game, and one kids can and should play. I mean, let’s go over the basic skills required to play the game well: You need to be able to read on a sixth grade level or higher (for my international readers, that’s roughly about 12 years of age or older), have math skills of a similar level (add, subtract, multiply, divide), and that’s about it. It also helps teach problem solving skills, social skills, and teamwork.

And all this is without mentioning the educational benefits. For example, a lot of D&D’s monsters come from mythology. The Dragon, for example, but this is too obvious. The Kobold comes from German myths, the Oni, from the Japanese, the Coatl, from the Aztec, and so on. Further, there’s a lot of literary references in the game as well: The demons called Balor are obviously Balrogs from JRR Tolkein, and the Mind Flayer is one of the earliest inclusions of elements inspired by HP Lovecraft, considering they kind of resemble miniature versions of Cthulhu…

I mean, yes, the game is pretty violent. I won’t lie about that. But so is television. Back in the day, when I would watch cartoons in the afternoon, the programming would end at 5 PM, when the news came on. Often, I would get bombarded by a teaser about whatever latest atrocity the news was barking about. But this, too, is okay, as D&D is, above all else, an outlet. And wouldn’t you rather your children push around fictional monsters, than try to do the same to real people? Actually, if I write that post about escapism, outlets will be in there too, but again, this is natural, and on some level, it’s necessary too.

Of course, by way of full disclosure, my father got me into reading Cthulhu Mythos stories when I was 12 or thereabouts, so yeah. On the other hand, I’m a (mostly) self-sufficient, (generally) functional member of society with a full-time job (usually). I don’t know if D&D made any of that possible, but it probably didn’t hurt.

Oh and by way of comparison? Startup cost on D&D is around $100 USD for the core books. If you buy additional supplies, it can rise to $150 or more, but that’s all hobbies. It’s also possible to run the g Now, for video game consoles, you’re looking at the system itself being upwards of $200 (I’m being conservative, actually…), and they only come with one controller and one or no games. So that’s another $80 or more right there, and that’s without OTHER accessories you need, so we’re looking at a first month cost being five times Dungeons & Dragons’.

… I forget where I was going with this. Ah well. It felt good to write, anyway. That’s one thing I can thank D&D for; a love of reading, and thus, a love of writing.

Until next time, happy gaming, and if you know people who aren’t into RPGs? Try to fix that…

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