Ethan Gilsdorf on middle-aged men rediscovering the games of their youth, specifically Dungeons & Dragons:
Every Friday night, from my eighth grade to my senior year in high school, I fell into a realm of wizards’ towers, battle axes melees and exploding fireballs. This was an age before 21st century diversions — no Internet, e-mail, cell phones or social networking — and Dungeons & Dragons was my total escape. When I wasn’t sleeping or in class, I’d draw maps of my Middle-earth-like lands, plan the exploits of my characters and scheme elaborate back stories of my world. From 1979 to 1984, I was under D&D’s spell.
But wanting to be a cooler, beer-drinking, girl-bedding kind of guy, I stopped playing D&D when I went to college. There was shame in them thar imaginary hills. So I shelved that yearning for fantasy heroics, which looked so weak and antisocial. I told myself, You don’t need D&D anymore.
Boy, was I wrong.
It amazes me to this day that I somehow escaped my youth without ever dipping my toes into the Dungeons & Dragons waters. In a strange reversal, I’m almost embarrassed and apologetic about it.