Playing D&D has had a profound impact on the way I play video games, for the better I’d say. However, if you talked to me about playing a tabletop game just a little over a year ago, I would’ve politely tried to weasel my way out of that conversation. The premise of sitting down with other people and doing what I felt was a lesser version of gaming was a waste of time in my opinion. The idea that there were others like me that also played D&D would’ve been laughable to me.
Granted, I had the incorrect notion of the reach that D&D has in the world of geekery, for the most part.
My wife and I both take part in two D&D campaigns at the moment, and have been having a blast in the meantime. One we started just after we moved last year. We’ve completed The Lost Mines Of Phandelver and have moved onto The Princes Of The Apocalypse. Our other group, that we have just recently kicked off, is a homebrew campaign from the twisted mind of one of our friends.
But I digress… Let me get back on topic.
D&D Taught Me About Metagaming
For those that aren’t aware of what metagaming is, I’ll give you a brief definition. Metagaming is where the player abuses the rules or knowledge of the game to attain a benefit that he or she shouldn’t have. In video games, this would be the equivalent of using strategy guides, walkthroughs, and exploits to min/max your way through a game. Keep in mind, if this is something that you do, that’s perfectly fine. For me however, it takes away from the experience.
I’ve spent a great deal of my gaming life bending the rules in a game to gain a benefit that I shouldn’t have. Nowhere was this more evident, and funny, than when CDProjekt patched The Witcher III: Wild Hunt to include a tax collector to punish players that abused pearl prices in Novigrad.
The fix was hilarious enough that I didn’t care I was being penalized, but it occurred to me that I breached some sort of barrier in the game.
Later, while playing D&D, the Dungeon Master informed us that metagaming would not be tolerated. Old-me might’ve been miffed about it, but after being restricted in D&D, I started imposing those same restrictions in my gaming as well.
I’ve discovered that by not using knowledge that I’ve gained about my games to exploit some sort of weakness or optimize my playthroughs, I became more invested in my gaming. I ended up having more fun not steamrolling through each game I’ve played after learning to accept the restrictions that are placed on me. I learned that while I may be able to make tons of cash by abusing a game’s economy, it doesn’t add anything to my experience at all.
Roleplaying Makes Things More Fun
Before D&D, I would start a game like Skyrim or Mass Effect with the intention of playing a character with the stats that would make things as easy as possible. Mass Effect in particular I would play as a Soldier class, and I’d almost always play as a character with heavy armor in Skyrim. Sure, the ability to play that way is perfectly within my rights as a player, but it made things less interesting.
Multiple playthroughs of both games led to me eventually getting bored because I’d inevitably fall into the same patterns. I’d always max out Smithing and Alchemy to level up in Skyrim, and took actions that I knew would be ideal for increasing my Renegade or Paragon levels in Mass Effect, regardless of what that would lead to. It was so boring though.
Now when I make a character in a game, I consider their background and temperament. I figure out their alignment and use that information to mold how they’d react in certain situations. Would my ruthless Commander Shepard, the butcher of Torfan and military hardass, be respectful to his commanding officer? Would my Imperial character join the Stormcloaks since he was wrongly imprisoned by his own people? What would Jensen do?
To me, the restrictions of morals and ethics make my choices more interesting. Sure, I could make Jensen could swipe everything that isn’t nailed down, but would he steal from his desperate and oppressed fellow augs? Would a by-the-book Shepard accept money from a criminal in return for killing someone? Would Marcus really kill innocent civilians in San Francisco if it made it easier to complete a job?
Roleplaying gives me a little more to consider when playing through different games now instead of doing things that I know will give me some sort of benefit regardless of the implications.
I’ve Stopped Using Subtitles
This is going to sound a little strange, but after playing D&D, I’ve decided to stop using subtitles in my games. Hear me out (heh)…
Listening to the DM and other players has been an enlightening experience to me. Now obviously I’d be required to pay attention to other people playing with me and the DM (since nobody has invented a system to create subtitles in front of my face yet). However, that same mentality has only recently bled over into my gaming habits.
I’ve personally found that getting rid of subtitles has led to a much less distracting gaming experience. Now I’m able to focus on the environment and characters more, looking for emotions and social cues that developers have grown more capable of mimicking in their games. It has led to me becoming far more immersed in my gaming experiences, much to the chagrin of my wife who doesn’t like trying to wrest my attention away from the screen.
No More Abusing Game Saves
Much like in life, D&D doesn’t generally lend itself to allowing do-overs. If you do something stupid and get stomped by an enemy, you have to live with the consequences.
Video games have enjoyed a different approach for a long time though. In most games, if you screw up, you can just load an earlier save and carry on. However, despite my continued loathing of the rogue-like genre, I’ve grown to begin accepting the outcomes of my decisions in video games, especially on first playthroughs.
If I accidentally kill someone important, use an item that I should’ve saved, or have done something immensely stupid that gets me hammered into the ground like a fencepost, I accept the consequences. This acceptance of decisions that I’ve decided to adopt has led to me being more careful and appreciative of choices in video games.
What Are Some Things You Do?
Have you played D&D? What are some things you do that you’ve carried over into your video game habits? Are there any other things that you do to enhance your gameplay?
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