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Can Dungeons and Dragons Still Be Enjoyed in the Modern Era of Gaming?
For decades, Dungeons and Dragons has been born and reborn, making appearances in movies, music, and new iterations in the form of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeons and Dragons 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0. In each of these, the publisher or creator has attempted to recreate themselves in a new and unique way. Wizards of the Coast, who are responsible for some of the most popular card and tabletop games, currently hold the rights to the name and have licensed them in ways that have kept the brand alive for a much extended period of time.
But is there a reason to do this? The game originally came out in the early 1970’s and shows its age whenever you begin a game with the character setup that takes more than ten times as long as character creation in a modern video game. Does it still need to be pen and paper though? If what I went through recently means anything, it seems like times may be changing for the modern day.
In talking with a cousin of mine, we got to discussing D&D, and it came up that he was planning to get a party together to play. He had found a Dungeon Master (DM) to run the game, and I brought up that I would like to join, but there were reasons I couldn’t.
Then he brought up Skype.
I had only briefly considered the implication of playing Dungeons and Dragons over the internet, and that had been nearly six years prior. I had considered using some of the software that was available to keep track of character stats and die rolls, but determined that the text separation made it difficult. I hadn’t considered the voice chat abilities that could be used now as I went through daily life.
The idea is new to me. I considered it for a second before asking if he was serious. I wouldn’t mind playing with a group over 200 miles away over the internet.
He talked to his DM and they determined that we would do the die rolls together to determine the best outcome for my character. We went through the same tedious character creation process, but with the creation of interactive character sheets (which copy the applicable stats to the proper sections on the forms), I was able to create two nearly fully fleshed out characters in a little over 2 hours. Learning house rules can be difficult, but the process is still the same as it has ever been.
So what does this mean for Dungeons and Dragons? Is is possible to teach new people how to play the game over the internet? For people who are accustomed to video games spoon feeding them their dialogue options, it may be a kick in the pants to have completely open conversation options in game. It also makes it difficult to find people who are mature enough to keep the immersion that a lot of fantasy role-players look for. Though, if you can find the right people, the internet is fluid enough now that the separation is nearly null.
Die rolls can be done with a screen share or recorded with a webcam, and with enough focus, character sheets can be maintained on both sides of the connection, or simply sent after a session to be updated.
So the old fashioned (but still preferred) method of meeting up with a group can be mitigated with the internet. This fixes the issue of members not being able to show up because of laziness or travel. The time it takes to work through a campaign will still be significant, but it saves on travel and allows you to play with people from around the world.
To see internet Dungeons and Dragons in action, there is a livestream on Twitch.TV each Sunday put on by itmeJP called RollPlay. It’s simply a Dungeons and Dragons party that plays over the internet using their webcams, and other interesting software. Check them out tonight, May 19, 2013 at 8:00 PM EDT.