Love of the Game

Education professor Scott Metzger’s fascination with Dungeons & Dragons began in elementary school and has never waned.

Scott Metzger and daughter

In 1982, one of Scott Metzger’s best friends brought a Dungeons & Dragons rulebook to school. Metzger, 10 years old at the time, was captivated by the J.R.R. Tolkien–inspired game that originated in the 1970s and grew in popularity after appearances in movies and on TV. He begged his mother for his own D&D set, but like many parents, she feared a game rumored to be based on demonic iconography. “To her credit, she said, ‘Scott, you know my concerns. But I trust you. I’ll let you make your decision,’” he says.

Little did Metzger’s mom know that she’d given her son permission for what would become a lifelong passion. Even when the initial fad waned, Metzger became fascinated with the game. “I think it appeals to certain personalities: the creatives, those who enjoy the wargaming aspect, storytellers,” he says. “I put myself in the category of people who like complicated rules and how they interface with each other.”

Metzger also credits D&D for influencing his interest in the ancient past, which led to a degree in history. The math involving the game’s polygonal dice influenced the respective careers of his school friends, too: Two studied mathematics. The trio has continued playing D&D regularly through the decades, evolving with technology to play by phone, email, Skype, and now on dedicated online platforms.

Much to Metzger’s joy, he’s been running D&D adventures for his 10-year-old daughter and her friends. “I think D&D has the same educational value,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s a cooperative game of storytelling and problem-solving, and I think that’s wonderful for children.”