Watch the PBS Off Book Documentary on Dungeons & Dragons

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 22, 2013

While reading through my Twitter feed today I saw that Rodney Thompson (@wotc_rodney) a professional game designer and developer at Wizards of the Coast had shared a link to a short D&D documentary. Naturally I clicked on it and watch to see how D&D was being portrayed in the media this time. I was extremely happy to see a fair and reasonable depiction of the hobby I love so much. If you’re into tabletop RPGs, and D&D specifically I recommend you take 7 minutes and watch it.

The documentary is called Dungeons & Dragons and the Influence of Tabletop RPGs. It’s part of the PBS series Off Book. This episode hasn’t yet been posted to the PBS website but it was posted to YouTube on June 20, 2013. Here’s the synopsis of the documentary.

Since their growth in popularity in the 1970s, RPGs have had a huge influence not just on players, but on everything from Hollywood to the development of video games. Now, in a world dominated by video games and social media, there remains an enduring interest in gathering around a table and playing games face to face. Beyond cards and board games, Role Playing Games allow not just for interaction and play, but the creativity of storytelling, world creation, and engagement with ideas. The adaptability of D&D and other tabletop RPGs can satisfy players in a way that our digital world still cannot, with unique game mechanics and engagement and limitless use of imagination. As tabletop RPGs enjoy a cultural resurgence, more and more people are discovering the freedom and interactivity that makes them unique.

I actually had to watch this twice because the first time through I saw myself in the documentary. I was not expecting that at all. A lot of the scenes that show people playing D&D were shot at one of my FLGS, Dueling Grounds in Toronto, during our weekly D&D Encounters sessions in 2011. The video clips were originally part of a weekly web recap series one of the other DMs was putting together. Unfortunately the web series didn’t last very long, but the footage is readily available on YouTube. Looks like the folks who made the documentary borrowed some of it. If showing our group playing will help sell the message, I have no problems being included in this, even it’s it’s only for a few seconds at a time.

For more information about the Off Book series visit the PBS website. Off Book is a web-original series from PBS Arts that explores cutting edge arts and the artists that make it. Episodes range from video games to typography, internet memes to steampunk culture.

While I was surfing the PBS website looking for an official link to the D&D documentary I stumbled across another D&D documentary you might enjoy. This one can be found in the Idea Channel section and is called Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You Confident & Successful?

There are some deeply ingrained stereotypes about Dungeons & Dragons, and those stereotypes usually begin and end with people shouting “NERD!!!” But the reality of the D&D universe is a whole lot more complex. Rather than being an escape from reality, D&D is actually a way to enhance some important real life skills, including problem solving, visualization, interaction, organization, and others.

Watch Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You Confident & Successful? on PBS. See more from Idea Channel.

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.

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1 Cent June 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Great short. Thanks for sharing!

2 Chet June 25, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’m curious as to why there’s video clips I know are lifted off youtube and there’s no credit given. Was permission given? (I doubt it). Is it considered in the public domain somehow? (I doubt it). Otherwise it’s a nice piece.

3 Ameron (Derek Myers) June 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm

After reading this post, the DM who shot the local footage let me know that he did indeed provide PBS with permission to use the footage, so no harm done.

4 Chet June 26, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Cool! I wish they would’ve taken the time to put credits a the end of the video. (I could play the top one on youtube, but not the bottom one. I’ll have to try it on another computer or browser)

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