Pong, released in 1972, relied on cutting-edge electronics. Dungeons & Dragons, which appeared two years later, employed technologies that had existed for thousands of years. The odd-shaped dice used to play original D&D - the pyramids, the icosahedrons, the strange gear of so many roleplaying games - are the five Platonic solids. The Greeks had advanced math, writing, drama, myth and lots of leisure time - not to mention an academy at Athens loaded with nerds. So why didn't Plato ever think to deck out a dungeon for his fellows to loot?Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but there are ideas here I've never consciously played with before, though it's clear they apply to D&D, and many other RPGs as well.
From ancient Babylon to post-WWII Europe, nobody thought of such a thing as roleplaying games, though the materials existed for making them. No one conceived of Dungeons & Dragons until the American Midwest in the early '70s. Why is that? Why would it take a guy from Minnesota and a guy from Wisconsin to invent D&D just before the Age of Disco? What makes D&D so modern?
Monday, June 02, 2008
Via the Velvet Dicebag, this wonderful, thought-provoking article on the nature of D&D by Ray Huling at The Escapist: