Games have been an important part of human history. From ancient times to modern times, games have evolved to reflect the values, culture and the lives of the people who created and played games. For me, games have been a way to learn, explore and create things in a way I was not able to with other forms of media. Because of this, I decided to ask other students about the games that have been impactful on their lives as a way of encouraging others to engage with this media.
Whether it be on stage or playing around a table, junior Sofie Schwartz is a fan of role-playing. She is a director this year for Lawrence’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a fan of the role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons,” which I will refer to throughout as “D&D”.
Schwartz is a government and an environmental studies double major. Along with directing, she is also a member of the Lawrence University Gaming Club.
Schwartz got into playing “D&D” with her friends in high school. “Towards the end of senior year I had to end up finding a new friend group, and I had recently joined the stage crew,” she said. “I found out that people play ‘D&D’ there and I was like, ‘I want to play that game.’ So I made friends with them and joined a ‘D&D’ group and it reshaped my senior year.”
For anyone unfamiliar, “D&D” is an iconic game where a group of people get together, make characters and go on different adventures led by dungeon master, or game master as some prefer to be called. Originally published in 1974, this fantasy, role-playing, improvisation game has had several updates and has seen a big resurgence on the gaming scene over the past decade.
In “D&D,” there are a few ways to play. When looking specifically at adventures, the dungeon master can create an adventure, known as a home brew setting, or choose from a plethora of premade adventures, as the master of Schwartz’s high school group did. “The group I was with was also pretty new to ‘D&D,’” Schwartz said. “Throughout senior year, a couple of them were working on a very complicated home brew setting that we were planning to play over the summer. Throughout the year though, we were mostly playing prewritten campaigns.”
Being a theater kid, Schwartz felt very confident in the role-playing aspect of “D&D.” She also really enjoys creating characters and being in this open-sandbox world where she is free to explore and do what she wants. “D&D” was also linked to a play that she was an assistant director for in high school. “‘She Kills Monsters’ is a really interesting play about a girl whose sister died,” Schwartz said. “When going through her dead sister’s stuff, she comes across a ‘D&D’ module that her sister was writing.” She continued, “She goes on to play the campaign as a way of feeling connected to her dead sister and learns a bunch of secrets about her sister’s life. That is what inspired me to get into the world of D&D.’”
“D&D” helped build Schwartz’s community, which then translated well into Lawrence’s “D&D” community. “A lot of people here do a lot of home brew stuff which has been a really cool difference between here and my past group,” Schwartz said. Since coming to Lawrence, she also said she has gotten better with engaging with the world her characters find themselves in. “I think my first four characters were all named Phillip,” she said. “They definitely had different backstories, but they were all named Phillip. I think now I have started getting more involved in the world and story rather than just the character.” She continued, “This has helped with diving into the details that many people can miss out on when first starting out. Because this is a lot longer of a form, you really get to know your character and you get to discover things in a way that is difficult in a shorter time.”
Schwartz continues playing “D&D” to this day. It continues to fuel her creative side that has come from years of theater. With dice in hand, she makes a roll to continue the adventure she is currently on with the rag-tag group of compatriots she has come to call friends.