Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

18 Jun 2006, 21:28 p.m.

MC Masala on Gaming For Experience Points

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2006 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

First: Jon Carroll mentions, in passing, Columnist Epiphany Syndrome. At least once a month I end up acting like David Brooks or Thomas Friedman and extrapolating an entire worldview, or at least 750 words' worth of one, from half a data point.

Back to the show. I played Dungeons & Dragons for the first time -- and enjoyed it.

In poker, you play the cards you're dealt; in D&D, you play the statistics you've rolled. Vera [my character] had great dexterity but very little strength or stamina. I found myself avoiding risk, creeping around walls and up trees, scurrying to tell my findings to the team. A game of D&D gives me more explicit lessons about teamwork and initiative than 100 seminars.

"Roll for initiative" comes up when the dungeon master springs an attack on you. You roll the die to find out whether it completely surprises you or you can take the initiative to defend yourself. Vera surprised me. As weak and inexperienced as she was, she got and used initiative frequently.

I realized that I'm even more risk-averse than she is and vowed to change.