One of the things that made Dungeons and Dragons a big part of my life as an early teen, and on into my adult years, was that it challenged me to look at the world through new eyes, to socialize with new people, and to look for creative ways to handle problems.
That socializing part was probably the hardest. In my teen years, I was painfully shy and awkward. A whole lot of things went into that, from social anxiety, to suicidal thoughts, to a deep seated sense of self loathing. All of which made it hard for me to be around people, much less hold conversations that didn’t involve me mumbling or doing things just to drive people away from me.
Over time, as I found a steady group of people to play D&D with, those things got better as I explored my self through the characters I played, and the NPC’s I ran as a DM. The more confidence I gained, the more I branched out, getting involved in the drama club, as well as creative writing. I made friends that I still chat with on occasion, some 25 years later, even though we’re scattered all over the country now.
Point being, D&D is a social gathering that just happens to involve rolling dice. I’d go so far as to say that the social aspect is the most important part of the game, and I know that my friends and I could often go an entire game session without a single die ever being thrown.
Making this point better than I ever could is Keishen Lloyd, a student at the Ringling College for Art & Design. As a class project, Mr. Loyd put together a brief documentary exploring how D&D can build friendships, introduce people to new friends, and help those who suffer social anxiety to overcome it.
In the past, I’ve shared some short films that have come out of Ringling, but I’ve never really gotten to talk about how much I respect the work they do there. Located in Sarasota, Florida, Ringling is one of the leading schools for art in the country, and possibly, one of the better ones in the world.
I’ve said before how I’ve got no talent for art, and I’m only a decent writer, not a great one. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate art, though, as what it can take me 100K words to describe, an artist can do in two or three images. That’s powerful stuff, and it makes me happy to know that there’s a school dedicated to nurturing that kind of talent. The world needs more art.
In the case of Mr. Lloyd’s documentary, much of that art is in the way he films his documentary, and how he brings out the inner thoughts of the people participating, all fellow students. Rather than focusing on the game itself, he focuses on how it effects the people playing, not just from an emotional stand point, but a social one.
Roll For Initiative is an excellent look at the social aspect of D&D, and the profound effect it can have on the people who play it. Check it out below, then hop over to Youtube to tell Mr. Lloyd what you think of his project.