10 Good Reasons to Play D&D

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 16, 2010

Have you ever had to justify your love for D&D? Did you stand up for the game or did you deny everything? Are you one of those gamers who proudly and openly talks about his love of D&D? Maybe you enjoy D&D but don’t need to give anyone another reason to know that you’re a nerd? Perhaps you’re a closet gamer who nerds it up behind closed doors, but refuses to acknowledge anything D&D related in front of your social peers or members of the opposite sex?

Over the years I’ve often had to defend my love for D&D to my friends, family and even my wife. In my article Confessions of a Gamer (written shortly after Dungeon’s Master was first launched) I dared to bare my soul and shout from the (virtual) rooftops that I play D&D and I was proud of it.

I realized long ago that playing D&D was nothing to be ashamed of; in fact I went to the other extreme and created a D&D blog so I could write about D&D every day. The more I thought about it the more I realized that there are a lot of strong up-sides to playing D&D. So for anyone who faces ridicule for playing D&D, here’s a list of 10 good reasons to play D&D.

  1. Learn to Work Together

  2. D&D is a cooperative game. In order to excel you have to work with the rest of your party to accomplish goals and overcome adversity. It’s not a forum for any one person to hog the spotlight and act alone. In fact the whole 4e motto is Never Split the Party. Learning to play well with others in a D&D environment is a good way to foster transferable, real-life skills that are easily applied to situations in your everyday life.

  3. Solve Problems

  4. After you’ve learned to work together you need to learn to solve problems. D&D is a thinking man’s game. You are often presented with challenging scenarios and have to come up with a solution given the resources at your immediate disposal. The good news is that solving these problems within the parameters of D&D is often a lot of fun. It’s rarely as simple as go from point A to point B or answer the riddle. The problems usually involve a combination of all the other skills and attributes we cover on this list. D&D has taught me that there is almost always more than one way to solve a problem, and that you aren’t always expected to take the predicable course of action. This has helped me in D&D and in real life.

  5. Keep in Touch With Friends

  6. I’ve played D&D with the same core group of friends for about 20 years. We play every Sunday night. Even though we’ve all moved out of the community in which we grew up, created lives of our own and started families, we still make the time to get together once a week to play D&D. In today’s society keeping in touch is easier then ever with email, cell phones, Twitter and Facebook, but there’s nothing like getting together face-to-face with your buddies once a week. I see the D&D guys more often than I see my parents or even my brother. That’s what I call solid friendship.

  7. Learn Practical Applications for Math

  8. Over the years I’ve come to realize that D&D involves a lot of mathematics. But don’t worry; it all makes sense in the context of the game. Every action that requires a die roll is an extension of a probability matrix. Every time you attack with your sword and roll a d20 you’re testing the probability and statistical likelihood of hitting the monster. When you decide to take one weapon over another because it’s got a better proficiency modifier or has a brutal property you’re thinking about probability and statistics. Every time you look at a battle mat and determine the size of your blast and who’s affected or not because of cover you’re applying the basics of geometry. The math isn’t in your face, but it’s there. Players will often number crunch to create the most optimized character. I’ve got news for you, that’s another in-game application of math.

  9. Stretch Your Imagination

  10. Although I’ve never actually seen a dragon or been held captive in a dungeon, I can picture what each looks like with incredibly accuracy. During a D&D game the Dungeon Master describes the setting and the events and it’s up to the players to try and imagine what these things look like. One player in my group often refers to it as Theater of the Mind, a term associated with old radio plays. The more detailed the descriptions the easier it is to picture in your mind exactly what the situation looks like. Today there are D&D-like video games that present most of the visual elements for you, but true D&D has always been and will always be played in the imagination of the people sitting at the gaming table.

  11. Develop a Love of Reading

  12. For many games the instructions are usually no more than one or two pages. The D&D 4e Players Handbook is 320 pages and the Dungeon Master’s Guide is 224 pages. Now you don’t have to read both books cover to cover, but assuming you did that’s just over 550 pages of reading before you ever play your first game. This is a game for people who enjoy reading. I read about three novels a month on top of magazines, news papers, blogs, comic books and D&D materials. My love of reading began when I was young, but my understanding and comprehension developed over time. Like any other skill, the more I practiced the better I got. I’m not a speed reader but I probably read a lot faster than most people and I’ll bet this is the case with many gamers.

  13. Educate Yourself

  14. Over the years I’ve taken it upon myself to make my D&D games as cool as possible. For no other reason than because it would make my D&D games more interesting I’ve read up on history, politics, geography, sociology, mythology, theology, architecture and art history. When was the last time you read a book or encyclopedia (or even Wikipedia) because you wanted to and not because you were doing an assignment for class? My love for D&D has motivated me to visit museums and art galleries. I’ve been cultured and educated in the process of fact-finding for my D&D games.

  15. Escapism

  16. Escape is one of the primary reasons that people watch TV, go to the movies, read a book, play sports and play video games. If you’re looking for a way to unwind and forget about you real life for a while what better way than to pretend you’re a totally different person. As this person you can do things that you’d never be allowed to do or in some cases never be able to do in real life. D&D makes it possible to slay a dragon, socialize with fantastic races like Elves, Dragonborn and Shifters, rescue the princess and cast magic spells. It’s a fun and easy way to be someone else, even if it’s just for a little while.

  17. Meet New People

  18. My core gaming group is made up of my high school friends. However, we’ve added a few new players to the group over the years as people moved away or left for school. Every time someone brought a new guy to the game table fast friendships were forged. When I attended game conventions like GenCon I meet new people from all over the world. Even playing D&D Encounters at my FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Shop) has given my opportunity to meet more gamers in my own community. I can truly say that there was almost no chance I’d have ever met any of these people if not for our shared interest in D&D. In fact two of the guys I met while playing Living Forgotten Realms at my FLGS are now members of my regular Sunday night game.

  19. Have Fun

  20. No matter what your reason for playing D&D, the one that should top everyone list is to have fun. After all, D&D is a game. It may not be the kind of game that has winners and losers, but it’s still a game. If you’re not having fun then you shouldn’t be playing. Above all else, D&D is a lot of fun.

The next time you’re looking for a good justification for why you play D&D think of this list and feel free to use any or all of the reasons I’ve presented. These were just the first 10 reasons that I thought of. I’m sure there are other great reasons I’ve inadvertently overlooked of just forgotten about. Tell us your reasons for playing D&D in the comments sections below.

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1 Gabriel November 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

I would add, for non-English speaking gamers, 11) Improve your English! 😀


2 RedNightmare November 16, 2010 at 10:32 am

@Gabriel: Amen to that!
What I learned alot was being creative and think outside the box. helped me alot when I had to make interesting material for teaching.
And if you didn’t do improvisational theater already: learn how to improvise.

3 Dalrec November 16, 2010 at 10:39 am

Number 10 is all you need – anyone deriding you for playing games, especially if your both mature, is someone not worth spending time with.

That said, those reasons are great, and can help sway someone to try it out.

4 Ameron November 16, 2010 at 4:07 pm

@Gabriel, RedNightmare, Dalrec
All excellent additions to the list; keep those ideas coming.

5 Alton November 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Funny thing about D&D. Like Ameron, my friends, family and wife looked at me like I was crazy sometimes, talking about this game that slays monsters, demons, devils and the like. I have had to battle with religious zealots because there is mention of devils in the game. They do not understand that the game is all about Good vs. Evil. Anyways, as I am a teacher, you bring up all the valid points in curricular activity, math, english (and in my case, I do some D&D in French), history, geography (cardinal points).

I have found that the students who play the game tended to be the ‘geeks’ of the school. In my school this stereotype is no longer viewed as negative, but a positive one. Since I introduced the game 4 years ago, I have had nerds, geeks and even the jocks come and play the game. I even have 2 girls who attend the odd session. We nickname ourselves the ‘Nerd Herd’ and are proud to wear that name on our sleeve.

For the wives and families that think it is odd that we would play this game, I ask them if they would prefer if I go to a bar 3 times a week to drink away money, or to buy books that will develop my critical thinking and improve my vocabulary!! Something to think of.

It is a great game. I would not give it up for the world.

6 Sunyaku November 16, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Don’t forget that it also improves verbal communication skills, acting ability (if you role play), and perhaps most importantly– helps ensure that storytelling will not become a lost art in this electronic age.

7 The Red DM November 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I was blessed first with a mother, and then a wife, who have always been very supportive of my gaming, even if they haven’t always understood it. But if I had to defend it, I think your list would be perfect.

8 Captain DM November 17, 2010 at 12:44 am

I definitely agree with the money-saving aspect of playing D&D. I’ve been able to save a lot more since I spend more of my time reading the books or playing games with my friends using pencil and paper than I used to when I was buying every new video game that came out.
I think it could be a great way to bring families together, too. I plan on bringing my children, boys or girls, into the mix since it will be a great way to encourage them to study and read for all the reasons that were already discussed.
It’s a great hobby!

9 Chris Walker-Bush November 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I’m glad #10 made an appearance. I was beginning to worry, haha. My #11 would be nostalgia. D&D is something I’ve played since before I was a teen, and even now it’s sometimes fun to get together and play an ‘old style’ game for nostalgia’s sake.

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