Slay Your Essays: Insider’s look at Dungeons and Dragons campus culture


My experiences with Dungeons and Dragons began in my freshman year of high school at the dining table of the Allen twins. We never finished an actual story, being a cluster of teenagers wandering blindly through the world without having read the actual guidebooks, but it was wildly fun and we made a point of meeting up to play again several times over the next few years.

Leap a few years forward and enter the true resurrection of D&D with the popularity of the Netflix original “Stranger Things,” which makes use of the D&D format as a sort of starting point for the narrative both within and outside the show itself. This, when combined with rising D&D podcasts like “Critical Role” and the McElroy brothers’s “The Adventure Zone,” allowed for Dungeons and Dragons to catapult it’s way out of obscure nerd-culture and into the public consciousness.

This has had a variety of effects on an individual basis, such as the roleplaying game being used in children’s therapy and even within prisons, but what does that mean for us here at St. Edward’s? Well for one, there’s a lot for students to gain from playing. Dungeons and Dragons is all about group creativity and teamwork, which are essential skills for any student to have. Also with the proper wording, it could look really impressive on a resume: “6+ hours a week spent on developing teamwork and communication skills” sounds pretty plush. Moreover, roleplaying itself can be intensely therapeutic and given the high-stress nature of school, it can be nice to stop being Collin who has a speech and three papers due and instead a wizard who can blast the heck out of goblins with little effort. Having a break from being you can give you perspective, relief and just generally be fun to do.

It’s worth noting too that there seems to be a lot of interest in playing on campus. Almost every time I bring up the conversation about the game and about my own group someone says something along the lines of “Oh I’ve been wanting to start playing but I can’t find a group!” The irony here is that I’ve heard this enough that these people could theoretically come together and make about three or four groups, easy. Granted, I was lucky enough to find an already-formed group, but there’s potential for there to be many more on campus. The interest is there, but it’ll take a little more organization and extroversion before it all falls together. A Facebook group, a table top meetup, something  to allow these individuals to meet and put something together would be a step in the right direction, but there has to be some initiative in order for there to be progress.

The years I’ve spent playing D&D have done a lot for me and they can do a lot for other people as well. If you’re interested in playing, nab one of the guide books or look up a PDF, talk to your friends or classmates about it; I have a friend who even played with a professor. Don’t be afraid to roll the dice, take an attack on opportunity and open that chest that might be a mimic. The reward is worth it.