Fighting Quarantine Isolation with Dungeons and Dragons


Evan Warren, Contributing Writer

Society has taken a hard hit from the self–and government mandated–quarantine. Amidst the growing feeling of isolation, people have been struggling with keeping in touch with their friends, finding things to do to pass the time, and feeling in control of their lives. Unprecedented solutions are rising at this time; one of them being the sudden reemergence of Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D.

Dungeons & Dragons is “a tabletop role playing game that works as a medium for collaborative storytelling”, according to Casey Ergin, ‘21.  Grace Rusk ‘21 describes it as a “fantasy improvisation”. It involves the heavy use of communication through predetermined, albeit flexible, mechanics, centering mainly around dice rolls. There are elements of role play for those highly interested in character development, as well as combat for those preferring greater intensity, and each game may be balanced to the preference of the players and the Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master, or DM, refers to the person writing the base story for the other players to participate in and facilitating the world around them. “They control the flow and pace of the game,” explains Dante Sasso’23.

In light of the current events, D&D is significant in keeping people connected.  “I think that for a lot of my friends who have busy schedules, playing D&D is a way for all of us to connect and relax,” Miranda Luse ‘21 said.  This sentiment is shared by all of the interviewed participants. She goes on to add that D&D has helped her friends maintain close contact for the past three years despite external life events, quarantine included. While this is exemplified by being in-person, Jay Livernois, ’22, summarizes the difference: “it’s certainly not insurmountable!” Playing Dungeons & Dragons online is made easy by apps like Discord and websites like Roll20, which allow for screen sharing and shared grid maps. Even Google seems to support the D&D movement by having an integrated dice roller, accessed by googling such. The distance cannot stop people from finding new ways to feel connected, and D&D is a major way to fight back the isolation this time might bring.

Additionally, D&D functions well as a pastime. While it is intense enough to keep one’s attention, it is also relaxing, according to Sasso. Most of those who played D&D before quarantine are continuing to do so, and while it may be a bit more challenging to get into it online, it’s not impossible. Especially for those seeking to have an additional activity for their families or roommates. Luse recommends it to people during quarantine, and after it too.  Livernois chimes in with, “I would always recommend D&D! I think during quarantine especially, despite the challenges of playing online, it’s very important to have a regularly-scheduled thing to do socially with your friends.” The issue of managing time and scheduling is a shared concern with many Union students, and all of the interviewed can agree that Dungeons & Dragons provides an entirely entertainment-based routine, as much fun as online classes are.

In consideration of who may be assisted by the many benefits of starting or continuing to play Dungeons & Dragons, I asked the constituents on their status of introversion or extroversion, as well as how laid-back they would consider themselves. Most interviewees were introverts in spite of the expressive aspects of Dungeons & Dragons, inviting the idea that its accessibility spans across even low levels of sociability. On the other hand, the work ethics varied from person to person; people who preferred calming activity spoke just as positively of playing D&D as people who preferred bending over backwards to keep busy. Regardless of one’s distinct affinities, everyone seems to find a place of belonging in D&D.

Ultimately, Dungeons & Dragons is, much like a maul or a short bow, a valid weapon to fight back against the more destitute matters of quarantine. It’s all a matter of finding the people and game best suited to your needs, and there are infinite opportunities to do so. If you can’t find one, you can always make one – your own imagination is the limit.