The influence of D&D on role-playing video games

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D&D is considered the father of many board and computer RPGs. We talk about its enormous influence when it comes to shaping the RPG in the video game.

The board opens before you, unfolding a dungeon that hides various secrets in each room. There are treasures, monsters, and maybe a dragon that doesn’t like visits from strangers. Although you may like strangers for lunch. Assemble your team of adventurers and venture into danger. Can you handle the challenge? This is the gateway to a fantasy world that many players have immersed in for hours. In many occasions, the board is pixelated and receives different names: Pillars of Eternity, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate … Dungeons & Dragons, the great benchmark of the board role, exerts a powerful influence not only on digital entertainment, but on it fantasy genre. Today at MeriStation we explore how the sword and dice witchcraft has influenced RPG video games.

The birth of dragons and dungeons

The birth of Dungeons & Dragons was shortly before its first publication in 1974, as documented in a report by Geek & Sundry. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, creators of the board title, met at a role-playing club called the Castle & Crusade Society.

Gygax, along with Jeff Perren, had written a game called Chainmail, which recreated medieval battles, along with a supplement that described how to apply the rules to a fantastic environment, which included monsters and spells like the classic fireball or lightning bolt. Arneson, for his part, created Blackmoor, another board game based on Chainmail and The Lord of the Rings. In his play, the player would explore dungeons riddled with enemies, traps, and puzzles.

When the two players met, Gygax became fascinated with Blackmoor, and created a campaign called Castle Greyhawk that he would enjoy with his children. Afterwards, both players brought their experiences during the game to the table, along with new ideas, and from there Dungeons & Dragons would be born: fantasy, narrative, combats and a complex and deep game system. To this day, dragons and dungeons continue to be the star of many player lounges, as well as games streamed on Twitch. The role, with its different games, continues to see D&D as the father of all of them. In digital entertainment, the translation of the role is also based on the work of Gygax and Arneson. Jennell Jaquays made the leap into digital entertainment thanks to her vast experience as an RPG designer. Brenda Romero, a pioneer in the video game industry, started professionally thanks to Wizardry, one of the first RPGs and inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, and later she would participate in the development of Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes.

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