In a world filled to the brim with screens and numbers, virtual reality and video games, a pen-and-paper tabletop game is thriving.

Dungeons and Dragons (known as D&D) is over 60 years old, and yet it still grows in popularity by the day. Due to the remarkable way it presents itself in the modern age while keeping its core elements, it’s a better time than ever before to get into the hobby and expand your horizons and thinking.

A few decades ago, mentioning the hobby would get you shunned -- D&D players were viewed as sloppy, gross, overweight men who live in their mother’s basements (the satanic panic didn’t help either). Nowadays, a massive variety of people play, from small children to retired grandparents to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to construction workers. D&D is everywhere.

Furthermore, the rise of the Internet has connected people like never before. Various communities have sprung up online in order to make the play experience fun and accessible for everyone. If they wish to play in person, new players no longer have to cautiously probe for interest among their friends -- a quick Google search will find them a group and location.

D&D can also be played online through free hosting sites like Roll20. There isn’t as much of an emphasis on physical dice-rolling, but the essential elements of role-playing remain. Plus, computers give fantastic tools to players, allowing them to roll virtual dice, upload backgrounds for scenes, or even play music to set the tone! Setting up an account is easy, and there are plenty of people online who are willing to help new players.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

In my years playing D&D online, I’ve met people from all over the world who share the same passion for storytelling. I’ve played with an accountant in New Jersey, a lawyer in Florida, and even a pair of siblings from Australia. All of their life experiences and hopes and dreams are different from mine, but we all enjoy sitting around a (virtual) table and telling fantastic tales. It’s an eye-opening experience that you can’t get anywhere else.

D&D can also help you develop as an individual. The very nature of the activity lends itself to growth. To play D&D, you have to put yourself into the shoes of a fictional character. You have to think to yourself, "is this what my character would do?" You have to consider your character’s backstory, motivations, likes, dislikes. You have to empathize.

It’s very similar to acting on a stage, but without all the rehearsal and stress. Think of every positive quality that can develop from doing drama -- confidence, acting ability, better teamwork, friendships. D&D can help you improve those qualities in a fun, relaxed environment if you wish to do so.

It doesn’t force you to play that way. Maybe you just want to sit with friends and roll dice -- that’s okay! Because of the open-ended nature of the hobby, you get exactly what you put into it. There are no expectations, obligations, or minimum requirements other than those you set upon yourself. That sort of relaxing, low-maintenance fun can only be found in roleplaying.

I’ve been playing D&D for years now, and I can happily say that every single minute I’ve spent on it has been worth the time and energy cost. Through it, I’ve developed my storytelling ability, met a wide variety of people, and even made some lifelong friends. Role-playing has been a constant in my life -- the growth I’ve experienced and the friends I’ve made have helped me through both the good times and the bad.