FROM a game for geeks in the ‘80s to a game that’s becoming mainstream in the present, Dungeons and Dragons is still reaping fans enamored of the tabletop game format.
Back when D&D was new to the Philippines, I used to play it with schoolmates in college. We’d hang out at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication tambayan of the UP Journalism Club, or at one of the concrete tables and benches outside the UP Main Library.
We’d cluster around a Dungeon Master, one of our friends who would run the game and keep track of activities and statistics. We blew on our polyhedral dice for luck as we shook and threw them hoping for higher points.
I still have my set of D&D dice from that time, but recently I gave it to my eldest daughter, who is among the growing community of players in the Philippines.
If I recall correctly, the game lost its popularity somewhat in the ‘90s and thereafter as video and digital games began their spectacular rise. But D&D is experiencing a resurgence this decade, particularly after it was featured in the Netflix hit ‘Stranger Things.’
Today there is a Dungeons and Dragons Philippines Community public group on Facebook, as well as other informal groups of students and young adults who meet at homes, cafes, or restaurants to play.
Among the venues is On Board at Circuit Makati, which provides the space and materials to play (as well as food and drinks). Last weekend, I saw a group of young adults playing at Casa Italia in BGC, while right now, as I write this, my eldest daughter and three of her friends are playing out a campaign in our living room.
Back in my day, the only video games were Game n’ Watch and Atari, which not everyone could afford, so tabletop games were all the rage, including the standards Monopoly, Clue, and Sorry. We didn’t have much of a choice back then.
But why the popularity of reading- and research-intensive D&D during this age of video games and online games?
“D&D is interesting because you can make it up, whereas video game narratives are already made for you,” says Rika, 19. “Some videogames have more of a choose-your-own-adventure style. But all the alternate narratives are still devised for you, and you’re just choosing a pre-planned outcome.
“In D&D you have full creative control. The DM and players make it all up as they go along, and it challenges everyone’s creativity, imagination, and improvisation.”
There is more freedom nowadays in creating the narratives. You can invent your own backgrounds and worlds. I hear there’s a campaign based on Philippine mythology – that sounds interesting.
There are more resources nowadays then there were before. You can get D&D handbooks and game manuals at bookstores, and there are apps for the statistics, game narratives, and even the dice.
So here’s to the evolution of games, and their adaptation by a new audience.
*** Dr. Ortuoste is a writer and communications consultant. Facebook: Gogirl Racing and @DrJennyO, Twitter: @hoarsewhsprr and @jennyortuoste