I used to make fun of my brother for playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). I didn't have anything against the game, it was just an excuse to give my brother a hard time.
When my friend texted me about a year ago, saying he wanted to start a game of D&D, I was pretty hesitant. Not only was I worried my brother would now make fun of me, I just didn't know if it would hold my attention. I don't like math, and I'm not very patient, so sitting for a long time and calculating stats didn't seem like it would be up my alley. I tried "Vampire: The Masquerade" for about a day in high school and Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) for about a day at Millikin. My track record was not good.
Still, I gave it a chance. And a year later, my perspective has completely changed. Now, I get pretty bummed if schedules conflict, and we have to skip one of our weekly sessions.
I think the main reason I wound up enjoying myself is the group of people involved. There are a few very experienced players who know the game inside and out. But everyone in the group is there to have fun, and they don't take it too seriously. Also, the Dungeon Master (DM) is a writer by profession, so his storytelling is fantastic.
The second reason is a word I heard often at Millikin: networking. The informality of D&D has led me to meet some amazing people. Our original group consisted almost entirely of my coworkers from the Decatur Herald & Review newspaper. However, as people dropped out due to lack of interest or scheduling conflicts, different players were introduced and new friends were made. During my free time, I like to make short films. Through my group of gamer friends, I have befriended fellow artists who have joined in my filmmaking endeavors as prop-makers, writers, actors and extras. The end result is that, even during my free time, I'm able to work on my craft and get people involved with me in creating art.
And that's another reason I found myself drawn into the game: the face-to-face interaction. In a video game that has a storyline, you have limited options for dialogue. In D&D, anything goes.
At the conclusion of my first D&D adventure, our DM asked what we wanted to do after our characters had collected our spoils. Just to be difficult, I said I wanted to run for mayor. I half expected him to laugh at me. Instead, the DM, who had planned far ahead in anticipation of several possible story outcomes, developed a plotline for running a political debate between the existing mayor and my elf sorcerer. (I won the election, I'm proud to report.) It was fun to be able to trip up the game's writer and send us into places we were never intended to go.
That's what I love about D&D, at least with this group: The ability to cut loose and play a game that has infinite story possibilities, all in person. It's a lot like the Millikin experience. Freshman students come in not exactly sure what it's all about but graduate feeling they have infinite possibilities. ?