Dungeons & Dragons Enters Toy Hall of Fame

Credit: The Strong

Credit: The Strong

Dungeons & Dragons, which was originally designed by Gary Gygax (1938-2008) and Dave Arneson and first published in 1974, has finally earned its place in the National Toy Hall of Fame. It beat out a diverse set of nominees including Care Bears and bubble wrap.

The Hall is housed at the Strong museum in Rochester, which also has a Video Game Hall of Fame. The toy hall, which dates back to 1998, now has 62 entries. D&D was one of three inductees this year alongside Fisher Price’s Little People playsets and the humble garden swing. Inductees are selected based on having “inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period.”

The induction notice for D&D credits it not only for bringing childlike creativity in play to an adult audience, but also for inspiring similar tabletop games. It also credits the game with inspiring MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

More than any other game, Dungeons & Dragons paved the way for older children and adults to experience imaginative play. It was groundbreaking. And it opened the door for other kinds of table games that borrow many of its unique mechanics. But most importantly, Dungeons & Dragons’ mechanics lent themselves to computer applications. The computer speedily reproduced the role of the Dungeon Master, defining and relating a game’s particular world. And character traits and encounter outcomes, determined by the dice, meshed perfectly with computational random number generation. Eventually, increased graphics capabilities allowed computers to illustrate the imaginary worlds rather than simply describe them. Coupled with the rise of the Internet, players’ characters could now interact in these graphic settings with countless other characters all over the world. These Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s), such as World of Warcraft and many others with diverse thematic settings, are extremely popular today. Without Dungeons & Dragons, these games would not have evolved as they did.

Museum curator Christopher Bensch told CBS that this year’s entries weren’t necessarily as disconnected as they might seem: “Fisher-Price Little People is a tool that empowers some of the youngest kids to make stories and make characters to play in that farm or airplane, and D&D empowers adults and older kids to do that same thing.”

Sadly he didn’t speculate on the challenge of rolling a critical hit while enjoying a ride on a swing.