The National Toy Hall of Fame, part of the National Museum of Play at the Strong in Rochester, NY was established in 1998. Since then, 65 toys have been deemed worthy enough to have a place in this hallowed space. The members of the hall include classics like the ball and more modern innovations like Star Wars action figures. This year’s nominees include three toys that many people have played with at least once in their lives: the swing, Fisher-Price Little People, and a favorite around these parts: Dungeons & Dragons. It’s easy to see why D&D belongs in the National Toy Hall of Fame–it shares a lot with the toys that are already members. Here are a few examples of how Dungeons & Dragons fits right along with these other playful classics.
LEGO was inducted in 1998 and named toy of the century in 2000. LEGO’s history is worthy of its own articles and books, but one of the main things the good ol’ LEGO brick shares with D&D is its versatility. With a LEGO set, you can build something neat using the instructions or you can let your imagination run wild and use the brightly colored building blocks to create whatever your heart desires. Dungeon Masters have been doing this for years. Whether a DM is following an adventure wholesale or just taking the bits and pieces they like the best and combining them into a new story all together, both LEGOs and Dungeons & Dragons offer their users a sandbox which is only limited by imagination.
The Game of Life was inducted in 2010 and the three dimensional board is likely to have sparked a love of miniatures and scenery in a few kids, but the really unique thing about this game is how it tells a story. Players get married, have children and navigate the highs and lows of live before retiring. This type of narrative arc echoes that seen in a D&D game. Players accumulate wealth and tell a story. While you might not ever reach the Millionaire Acres or Poor Farm equivalents in D&D, it’s still easy to recognize that both games tell a tale through the help of their players. There’s no absolute, pre-determined path–your choices have consequences on the end game. And speaking of games…
Around the time of Dungeons & Dragons rose to prominence, the Atari 2600 Game System (inducted in 2007) was bringing video games to a larger market. D&D‘s influence on video games is easily seen in modern classics like Skyrim and Mass Effect, but even in those early days, Atari classics like the Swordquest series and Dragonstomper definitely had that air of roleplaying despite the console’s limitations. Dungeon Masters seeking players for a new campaign can reach out to fans of these games, since they’re already familiar with many of the themes, story mechanics, and character progressions from D&D. Lately, video games have even been influencing tabletop RPGs, with games like the Dragon Age RPG from Green Ronin!
2016 has been a pretty good year for Dungeons & Dragons, and we’re glad to finally have it recognized as one of the most influential “toys” of its time. Whether you played it in your youth or are playing it now, its influence on modern pop culture is not to be ignored.
What’s your favorite National Toy Hall of Fame inductee? Tell us in the comments!
Image credit The National Toy Hall of Fame