Image for article titled Dungeons & Dragons created the blueprint nerd culture still follows today

Other ideas first explored in D&D—levels, experience points, and hit points among them—are also now ubiquitous. That’s largely because they’ve been adopted by video games. And that’s because the people who made video games were old-school nerds.

“These were people that were also into a lot of other things like performing arts and computers in the 70s,” says Witwer. “Unsurprisingly, Dungeons & Dragons, and the concepts that it brought forth, became adapted to some of these emerging technologies that became very, very important.”

Now D&D is coming full circle. Critical Role, a live-streamed show where voice actors play D&D, regularly gets millions of views. A slew of podcasts featuring groups of friends simply playing D&D for an audience clock hundreds of thousands of downloads per month. And it’s still a great way for families to connect.

It’s likely only the beginning. After all, D&D is where it all started. Says Peterson, “I think it’s almost impossible to do fantasy, whether you’re George R.R. Martin or take your pick, without having some picture of D&D in what you’re doing.”

Update: An earlier version of this story mistakenly claimed Dungeons & Dragons was popular before comics.

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