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WRITE TEAM: Dungeons and Dragons and politics

Bobby Riahi
Bobby Riahi

I recently read an article that cited a study that the table-top role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons was perpetuating a system of white supremacy.

That sounds like a crazy assertion for some of us who have played the game. For those of you who do not know what Dungeons and Dragons is let me break it down. It is a game with a lot of books, dice and paperwork. Essentially the books hold the rules for the game to be played. Someone then uses these rules to create an environment and storyline. Then the players make up fantasy characters (like wizards and elves) to play through this storyline using dice to determine the outcome of certain actions. It’s a blast.

For some background on my experience with the game I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons for almost 20 years now. I started as a kid during a strange time in my life and after a terrible family tragedy. The game gave some insights into myself, a place for my imagination to expand and a social setting that didn’t involve drug use or violence. And once again, it is a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

I have never seen any Satanic activities, nor have I witnessed any of the other dangerous occult behavior that used to be unfairly associated with the game back in the 80s. It was mischaracterized then like it is by this study. The Stanford professor essentially states that the game creates a distrust of “the other” and that it began as a “white man’s hobby.” He writes about the lack of women in the game.

To his first point it should be fair to say that people in the game are encouraged to work together to solve problems. Sometimes people play characters of different races (humans, dwarfs, elves, half-orcs, etc.) and they must overcome preconceived notions that they held to work together. Part of the game is literally overcoming racial obstacles and working together. I understand that there are villains in the game and those villains tend to be orcs or goblins or some other such monster race. But likening that to real life racism is like likening “My Little Pony” to raising horses. The objective is to overcome evil and get a different perspective; one of the tools used to combat prejudice.

It may have started like a white guy’s hobby but has since blossomed and is now more universal than ever. Thanks to shows like “Critical Role,” “Stranger Things” and “Big Bang Theory,” Dungeons and Dragons has become more accessible to everyone in every walk of life. The game now enjoys a popularity it may have never known in decades past. I know several women who have played for years and the actual game has been translated into more than a dozen languages world-wide.

I suppose if you want to know more go to your local comic book shop or bookstore and ask about it. There is a racial bias in the American justice system and we live in a world where prejudice holds fast. Not everything, however, is part of the conspiracy. Instead of being weary of Dungeons and Dragons, just try playing it with friends.

BOBBY RIAHI is a writer, chef and father who wants to make the world a better place through his writing. He grew up in small towns and tries to put the world into perspective from there.

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