I was excited to read Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons. My only previous experience with any “Everything I Ever Needed…” themed stuff was a poster I saw a few years ago which was Everything I Needed To Know I learned From Star Wars, which was cute, but kind of in-jokey. When I got this book, I thought: “Here is an amazing opportunity to explain to the masses everything nerds have known for years. A chance to make D&D less intimidating and more of a normal thing, useful, thing.”
Unfortunately, I don’t feel the book came through on this.
I had high hopes, to start off with. The author kind of rambled about her mother for a long time in the introduction, and mentioned D&D maybe once. This struck me as odd, but then there was an interview with a guy who had been a priest and had played D&D while an active priest and explored the reasons why he felt it was a good outlet for expressing creativity. I thought, “Yes! This is such an important topic. Religion and geekdom often clash, finding someone who straddles both sides of the fence is a gold mine of discussion.” But, the interview took up, maybe half a page, and then it was back to being all about the author.
And then it kept being about the author and her mother and self-help books. I get that this was a book about her quest for self-help through D&D, but I feel like such an opportunity was missed. There is so much prejudice against D&D and those who play it, that while it was fun following her antics to find religion and conquer her housing association with what she’d learned, I wanted something more substantial. This felt more like a blog. A cute, kind of in-jokey blog about skimming the surface of D&D and making up some life lessons from it that may or may not be useful.
Her anecdotes about trying out various things she’d learned from doing a D&D session into life skills were very funny. I particularly enjoyed her lesson about spontaneity which essentially boiled down to “don’t sweat the small stuff”. I also think there is great value in analysing D&D and seeing it as a tool rather than a game and this books is a step in the right direction.