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How Dungeons & Dragons fired up a generation of creative minds

Author and "17th level geek" Ethan Gilsdorf on the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons.
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Dungeons & Dragons, the first commercially available role-playing game, turns 40 this year -- and despite all its higher-tech successors, the game remains a favourite among fantasy-loving storytellers the world over. 

Famous D&D players include Stephen ColbertJunot Diaz and Dan Harmon, all of whom have spun their share of tales about elfish wizards, dwarfish warriors and battling trolls.

For insight on the game's lasting appeal, guest host Piya Chattopadhyay checks in with author and self-proclaimed "17th level geek" Ethan Gilsdorf. He recently wrote a New York Times article about how D&D has influenced a generation of writers.

Gilsdorf notes that the experience truly takes place in the collective imaginations of the players, something that can be hard for fans of traditional win-or-lose board games to understand.

"I remember my parents saying 'well, who won Dungeons and Dragons this week?' And I have to say 'well, actually, there is no winner'," he tells Piya.

"What's amazing about the game is that, particularly for young people, it can hold their attention, you know, for weeks and weeks. Games go on for weeks, months, even years."

CBC Digital archives: Is Dungeons & Dragons dangerous? 

If D&D is viewed as a whimsical, if geeky, past-time today, consider the controversy it inspired when it was just 11 years old.

 
 
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If you don't see your favourite famous Dungeon Master, let us know who you'd choose in the comments section below.

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