Sam Blacker

The Three Decade War over Dungeons & Dragons: How Does It Sustain Itself?

On the back of the news that one man has kept the same Dungeons & Dragons game alive for 35 years, I donned my chain mail and marched through that societal underworld.


As long as there has been nerd culture, there has been Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a war that never finds peace, where conflicts are forever renewed. This has many examples, but most recently evidenced by the news tidbit that weaved the tale of one hateful conflict raging since the middle ’80s.

On a larger level, how has this role-playing game lasted for so long?

I’ll be up front, I am not a hardcore player of Dungeons & Dragons, but I have dabbled, inclusive of guesting on a D&D podcast called Spuds and Spells, where I mainly try to derail everyone else’s plans.

Yet, even this mediocre-at-best interaction has given me enough insight to understand that there is a reason why one man has managed to keep a single game of Dungeons & Dragons running for over 35 years.

That’s where Robert Wardhaugh comes in. While some Dungeon Masters might have a few maps or figurines to help the story, Robert has decked out his entire basement in order to help continue the one campaign he started in 1982.

On the surface, this may seem extreme, but if you even get a taste of D&D, it is easy to understand why people donate their lives to this role-playing demigod.

While media has traditionally portrayed D&D players as nerdy stereotypes, the game is slowly started to bleed through into pop culture and I believe we will only see a greater audience swarming to Wardhaugh’s D&D collection.

While negative stereotypes still exist, publicity continues to grow independent of it. Netflix’s smash hit Stranger Things has young D&D players as its protagonists and, with the story being such a big element of role-playing, it’s no surprise that podcasts have come to house an overwhelming number of unique D&D shows.

And then there is Dan Harmon. The creator of Community wasn’t afraid to have a whole episode set around the background of a Dungeons & Dragons game:

And then followed up with his popular series Harmonquest that features various comedy guests joining regular hosts who play an ongoing game of D&D in front of a studio audience:

Dungeons & Dragons is creative, immersive, and growing in popularity, so it’s no surprise that one man has been able to attract hordes of people. The only question is, how much longer will he keep it going for?


Sam Blacker

Sam Blacker is an Australian radio jock, but in his spare time will talk bollocks with a bit of swearing when he co-hosts the podcast Shut Up I’m Talking. Find him on twitter @blackersam and check out the podcast at:

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