You’ll have to go to the original post to see the accompanying video, but it is interesting to see how the Australian media views Dungeons and Dragons in relation to works of fantasy, like Game of Thrones. Weird, but interesting.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Dungeons and Dragons was the world’s most-popular fantasy role-playing game in the 1980s but hits like Game of Thrones have seen it experiencing a revival with a younger generation, and a warning this report contains strong language.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: In this internet and technology-obsessed age, it’s amazing what simpler pastimes survive.
Dungeons and Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game, was huge in the 1980’s and required little more than a pen and paper, a dice and a bit of imagination.
Now it’s undergoing something of a revival, as Alison Caldwell reports.
ALISON CALDWELL, REPORTER: In living rooms around Australia, a game of strategy and boundless imagination is keeping it’s fans up late into the night.
KIEM-AI NGUYEN, D&D GAMER: I’m not really sure what’s cool and what’s not. I don’t really keep in touch with pop culture, but I’d say it’s pretty cool.
ALISON CALDWELL: Long before Game of Thrones, Dungeons and Dragons lured players with the promise of legend and great adventure.
29-year-old Kiem-Ai Nguyen is one of a legion of new fans of the role-playing game.
KIEM-AI NGUYEN: I was always like, “Ugh, nerds! Ew! Sounds terrible! But a couple of years ago my partner roped me into it. He was like, “Oh, come on, Kiem, you’d love it. It’s a lot of fun. You talk s**t and roll a dice.”
ALISON CALDWELL: Tonight, Kiem’s party of adventurers is embarking on a whole new campaign. The last one played out for over a year.
KIEM-AI NGUYEN: I’m playing an elvin rogue. So, being a rogue, she’s really good with, like, bows and short swords. I just really love the conversation part, the actual role-playing.
ALISON CALDWELL: Michael is the dungeon master in Kiem’s game, the main storyteller and referee.
MICHAEL BARDSLEY, DUNGEON MASTER: In the course of a game, I’m doing things like controlling the non-player characters, controlling the monsters, making decisions about how things happen.
BEN MCKENZIE, GAME DESIGNER: Dungeons and Dragons is the earliest role-playing game. It’s been around since I think 1974. And a role-playing game is a game where you sit around and essentially tell a story together by playing the parts of characters and going through an adventure which is arbitrated by rules which adds an element of risk and danger that you might fail.
ALISON CALDWELL: Ben McKenzie is a game designer and a veteran D&D player.
BEN MCKENZIE: It comes out of the same sort of origins of geek culture as the very early video games. You know, guys in college who felt disenfranchised by the sort of traditional idea of masculinity making an alternate way for them to do these things that they wanted to do.
ALISON CALDWELL: Dungeon master Andy Hazel’ s group has been playing together for seven years.
ANDY HAZEL, DUNGEON MASTER: I didn’t really have a TV when I was younger so there was a lot more imagination and books going on. So, when a neighbour showed me this, I took to it straight away and then quickly converted a whole bunch of my friends at school and started writing adventures for them.
ALISON CALDWELL: Invented in the US in 1974, the board game’s appeal waned in the late ’80s with the advent of video games. Facing oblivion in the late-’90s, a new owner revamped the game, releasing new editions and a mind-boggling 20-sided dice.
ANDY HAZEL: So this is all from 1978 and it was all made by the original guy, Gary Gygax, who – he kind of – he wrote all these books and came up with them. He’s like God to many people.
ALISON CALDWELL: Andy and his group are purists. They prefer an earlier vintage.
ANDY HAZEL: I can often write huge adventures and people will just, like, turn the other direction and walk into the hills and I’ll have to improvise stuff. So, this is still much more about human contact and meeting up and having brown fizzy drinks and pizza and that sort of stuff.
ALISON CALDWELL: Fairfax columnist Clem Bastow has embraced Dungeons & Dragons.
CLEM BASTOW, D&D GAMER: My character today is called Zalga and he’s a half-ork magic user from the realm of Pomage. And he’s six foot five and he’s about 37. And I think his theme song would probably be Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again. He’s kind of just been wandering around and somehow ended up in this cabin with all these people.
ALISON CALDWELL: One reason for the revival in interest in D&D was the late-’90s cult teen drama series Freaks and Geeks. Incorporated into its final episode, Freak Daniel, played by James Franco, is ordered to hang out with geeks and play D&D as punishment. To his surprise, Daniel enjoys it.
That’s how Clem Bastow came to Dungeons & Dragons.
CLEM BASTOW: D&D in Freaks and Geeks is such a big part of those narratives. So when I found these books at the op’ shop, I just put the word out to people I thought might be interested and it turned out everybody in the email chain was interested.
ALISON CALDWELL: Once the domain of men only, today, around 10 per cent of D&D players are women.
CLEM BASTOW: Sometimes women just assume there’s not something there for them. But, I mean, we usually have a fairly even gender split. And what’s really interesting too is, you know, people don’t always play their own gender. So, right now we’ve got one woman in the campaign, but three women at the table.
KIEM-AI NGUYEN: I’m a feminist so I’m all about embracing, you know, everything. It’s becoming a fairly new thing for women to get involved in D&D. … I think we’re all so caught up in the internet world. In the end you try and look for something a little bit different, something creative. It’s kind of like a massive choose-your-own- adventure story, but there is no end to the story and that’s really cool.
LEIGH SALES: You would be surprised how many Dungeons & Dragons fans in the 7.30 office have outed themselves since we commissioned that story – or perhaps not!