Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person? | Idea Channel | PBS

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Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person? | Idea Channel | PBS M. Alan Thomas II 10/11/12 9:40 PM
Idea Channel is one of a few YouTube shows produced by PBS Digital Studios. It describes itself as "a PBS show that examines the connections between pop culture, technology and art," which means in practice that each episode is a highly intellectual, compact argument for a favorable proposition about something that many people might consider low culture. The most recent (and longest) episode is "Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person?" (Link: I'll let the episode's description of itself explain its basic point:

There are some deeply ingrained stereotypes about Dungeons & Dragons, and those stereotypes usually begin and end with people shouting "NERD!!!" But the reality of the D&D universe is a whole lot more complex. Rather than being an escape from reality, D&D is actually a way to enhance some important real life skillz! It's a chance to learn problem solving, visualization, interaction, organization, people management... the list could go on and on. Plus, there are some very famous non-nerds who have declared an affinity for D&D, so best stop criticizing and join in if you want to be a successful at the game of life.

The presenter is well into all sorts of fandoms and subcultures and presents each episode with wit, humor, and genuine interest, so I had hopes for this episode even before reading the precis. Having now watched the episode, I can say that it was pulled off quite nicely. The episode was longer than most probably because they felt the need to explain at length what RPGs are and how they work, although as with most episodes, many of the later jokes aren't going to make any sense if you didn't already know a lot about the subject (e.g., a reference to fighting a gazebo).

My only criticism is that there were a few jokes that I felt would be stereotyped criticism if made by an outsider. On the other hand, they were references that I would take as good-natured poking fun at ourselves from an insider. Given that the host goes out of his way to point out that he's a long-time gamer himself, it's easy for me to accept the latter explanation, although it possibly undercuts his anti-stereotype argument and the value of the episode as a teaching tool.

A key part of Idea Channel is acknowledging and responding to the ensuing viewer responses and debates at the end of the next episode, so expect that in two weeks. (I was featured myself on one occasion, so I know that all it takes is one smart comment to get noticed.)

—M. Alan Thomas II
Re: Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person? | Idea Channel | PBS Mike "Talien" Tresca 10/13/12 6:13 PM
Thanks for pointing this out.  I added my two cents here: