1978. I’m a 16-year-old college freshman, living in the dorms. Struggling (and often failing) to muster the self-discipline to attend class and do my homework assignments.
And then I hear about this cool role-playing game. Dungeons and Dragons, it’s called. D&D. Really popular, especially among college students, especially among geeks. And I start playing with a group on my dorm floor.
The story doesn’t go entirely the way you might expect. I mean, yeah, I didn’t do terribly well in my classes that semester. But D&D is only partly to blame. Really, I was looking for excuses: something else to do with my time when I should have been studying or sleeping instead. If it hadn’t been D&D, it would have been something else. In fact, most of the time, it was something else: books, or long philosophical conversations with newly minted friends, or (on one or two particularly stupid occasions) sitting up all night watching other people play Risk without using cards. Let me repeat that: watching other people play Risk without using cards (which just about triples the length of a game that’s already fairly tedious if you’re not one of those playing). If that doesn’t show how far I went in my quest to avoid schoolwork, I don’t know what does.