Happy 40th Birthday, Dungeons & Dragons

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"Freaks and Geeks" NBC/YouTube
Just a little D&D on a Friday night

Its creation paved the way for the gaming world of today -- adding social elements and changing the definition of what constitutes a game. It led the way for World of Warcraft, Fable, Final Fantasy, and many more -- and it's turning 40 years old. Happy birthday, Dungeons & Dragons.

We're not part of the 20 million people who've put a player character into the game and rolled the polyhedral dice to see how the events of D&D unfold. We've never purchased any of the $1-billion worth of game merchandise sold over the last four decades, but we do know that D&D isn't over the hill.

For those unfamiliar with D&D, Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games says "D&D was the original, fantasy role playing game, [and other social games] incorporate principles D&D introduced, where a character gets better with experience."

Building a character in D&D requires strategy (think chess), time, and a little luck -- that depends on the person running the game, known as the Dungeon Master.

Curious about how the game is won, or at least how you determine it's over, Peterson explains, "Like life, you just get better -- until you don't."

If you've never played D&D, and want to give it a try, you're not alone -- the D&D website's main image is large text asking "New to D&D?" And Peterson points out it's easier than ever to connect with the gaming community, be it through the internet or a local gaming store like Games of Berkeley, which hosts D&D nights.

So why not? We'll try it.

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