Dungeons of the mind: Tabletop RPGs as social therapy

In the heart of Seattle, a gathering of teenagers sit around a wooden table. It’s covered with character sheets, Dungeons and Dragons (1974) player manuals, and hand-drawn graph paper maps. Pencils, pewter figurines, and dice of various shape are scattered about. The players’ attentions are transfixed on the words of their charismatic game leader, Adam Davis. Davis has a decade of life experience over his players, but communicates with a youthful energy and utter commitment. His role is vital, building the fictional world for these players to fill with their unique characters. Through collaborative storytelling and rolls of the dice,…


A history of violence: Videogame moral outcries through the ages

As long as there have been games, there have been people taking indignant moral stances towards them.  This is shown in this nice write-up on a short history of game panics by Jesse Walker over at Reason. From New York City’s pinball ban, which we have a standout article on by John Teti in issue #1, to those seedy “Pac-Man dens” of the ‘80s, the usual suspects are all there: Custer’s Revenge’s lewdness, Lieberman’s crusade against game violence, urban legends of loner teens becoming murderous psychopaths after playing Dungeons & Dragons.  An interesting one I had not heard of is Death…


Very first virtual world, from 1978, acquired by Stanford; librarians to get their mob-slaying on

Stanford has gotten its grubby archival hands on the source code for MUD1, which was the first online virtual world and great grandpapa of big, life-consuming MMOs like World of Warcraft as well as computer-simulated communities like Second Life.  For those of you who aren’t exceedingly old, a little history lesson: MUDs, or multi-user dungeons, are part BBS, part texted-based Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying, and part interactive fiction, which if you do the math adds up to all very nerdy, but in the respected, historical sense of nerdy. Not to be confused with MUD2, or the outburst of copycats that…


Pillars of Eternity to have brilliant weakling fighters, idiot jackass wizards, and other strange classes

A fair critique of RPGs is that you inevitably wind up overseeing the same wimpy wizards and quick-witted rogues no matter which game you’re in. But Obsidian’s Kickstarted fantasy Pillars of Eternity gives you the option to disassemble those tried-and-true archetypes of the ancient rulebook.  Josh Sawyer, lead designer on Fallout: New Vegas and now this game, told PC Gamer that he was upending the tea table in terms of character creation.  If someone wants to make a brilliant, weakling fighter, that is a build that is viable in our game, and it’s rewarded within the conversations and the fiction…