Dungeons & Dragons game day sees large turnout in Twin Cities

An event in Falcon Heights brought in more people than last year’s 30th-anniversary celebration.

Nikki Wee

Crowds of Dungeons & Dragons players of all skill levels and from all walks of life gathered Saturday to take part in the second annual worldwide game day.

The day, locally hosted by Source Comics & Games in Falcon Heights, brought in more people than last year’s 30th-anniversary event.

“Just seeing the huge turnout makes me feel that D&D is huger than ever,” said Sue Cook, editorial director and co-owner of Malhavoc Press, a publisher of Dungeons & Dragons books.

Source Comics & Games assistant manager John Nordling said the Dungeons & Dragons industry is continually growing in popularity.

“The world of D&D is huge. It’s a big industry,” he said. “When you have celebrities like Vin Diesel saying that it’s cool, it’s cool.”

Marshall Moseley of Minneapolis said he came to the event because of his love for the game and his desire to meet speaker Monte Cook, the designer of the modern version of the game and a “D&D guru.”

Moseley said he has been playing the game since he was a child.

“It’s a game that I enjoy playing,” Moseley said. “I love the interaction element of it and getting people to act and improv in elaborate ways.”

Child psychology sophomore and Dungeons & Dragons player Alex Burton did not go to the event because he didn’t think it would be serious.

“It sounded like a lot of kids that were going to play but weren’t going to take it seriously,” he said.

Instead, he and a small group of friends went to Wisconsin to have a warmup match for a tournament they will attend in July.

Game is more accepted

Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game that has an estimated 20 million players worldwide, has become more widely acceptable in the past decade.

While there were many controversies when the game first came out in the 1970s, Nordling said, people have started to see the game for what it is.

Nordling said he remembers that players used to “deny playing” the game out of embarrassment.

“I’m not going to lie and say that we’re not all nerds,” Moseley said. “But it’s becoming more socially acceptable. People aren’t going to beat you up for it anymore.”

Source Comics & Games game buyer Burl Zorn said the game’s violent themes aren’t as controversial as they used to be.

“It’s just another hobby like football or chess,” Zorn said.

The game allows for its players to express their creativity, player Sue Cook said. Players have to improvise during the game, and some will be inspired to write fiction or draw pictures of their characters, she said.

“In role-playing games, you can do anything you can imagine,” said Sue Cook’s husband, Monte. “In computer games, you’re limited to the designer’s imagination.”

Sue Cook also said teamwork, the development of friendships and having fun are a big aspect of the game.

Source Comics & Games co-owner Nick Postiglione said sitting at a table and interacting with other people is one of the most important parts of the game.

Monte Cook said role-playing games are almost a necessity.

“It’s a social setting,” he said. “Computer games you play alone. There ought to be experiences where you can be with your friends.”

Zachary Manuson, of Northfield, started playing again a few weeks ago after being out of it for 10 years.

“It’s about good friends sitting around and having fun,” he said.

The game has gone through many changes over the past few years and is continuing to change with time.

Sue Cook said the game is spanning generations as its players grow older.

“I’m already seeing that it’s a multigeneration game,” she said. “Moms and dads are bringing their kids in to play as a family. It’s a nice feeling to see that happen.”

Zorn said the stereotypes about the game aren’t true anymore.

“People from all walks of life come together to play,” he said. “We have priests, librarians and corporate men running games.”

“The disparate people that come to play amazes me,” Postiglione said.

But there can be a downside to playing the game, Postiglione said.

“The only thing that D&D players like more than playing D&D is talking about playing D&D,” Postiglione said. “They’re like ESPN reporters.”