Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary
August 20, 2012

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, a game that is, simply put, a cultural phenomenon.

Whether people know it or not, they are playing Dungeons & Dragons. Any computer game played, any role-playing game played, any online profile filled-out, have their elements and DNA rooted in Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a game that has had far-lasting, powerful and yet subtle influence in our culture.

From its humble beginnings in a basement in Lake Geneva, WI, D&D was created by a group of game enthusiasts and game designers. The story of D&D and its creation spans four decades and is a complicated, heart-breaking story. Imagine “The Social Network”, the creation of Facebook, but no one gets rich. This is a cautionary tale of an empire built by friends and lost through betrayal, enmity, hubris, poor management and litigation.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game beloved by its fans, a game that brings family/friends together and creates communities, societies and sub-cultures. D&D teaches. There are countless stories of gamers who have delved deeper, studying history, language, science and math purely for the desire to be better players. Gamers have created lifelong friendships because of this game and come in all walks of life: firefighters, educators, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, and yes, even a few documentary filmmakers.

There have been several very good attempts at documenting Dungeons & Dragons, but have covered only the very basic information, “How to Play D&D” or “It was Gary’s invention – No, it was Dave’s invention” or worse, “Look at these weird people playing this nerdy game”. None cover how the game came to exist and what role it has played in modern culture.

Anthony Savini, James Sprattley and Andrew Pascal have set out to film the definitive documentary on Dungeons & Dragons. Film-makers first and gamers next, Anthony, Andrew and James are currently in the middle of production, having spent the better part of 2011-12 filming interviews with key figures in the early days of D&D, historians, game designers and other cultural experts. There are a lot more interviews to go, research to do and archival footage to find. They are looking to finish by 2014, the 40th anniversary of the release of the first box set of D&D. They will also soon be announcing their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to finish the film. If you are headed to Gen Con 2012, they will be showing 10 minutes of footage from Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. Anyone interested in the history of D&D, TSR, and the cultural impact of RPGs will not want to miss this event. There will also be a Q&A session with the film-makers with special guests James Lowder, George Strayton, David Ewalt and Tavis Allison. The event is free and takes place Friday afternoon, Aug. 17, from 4 to 5, in Westin: Capitol I. All are welcome!

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Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Time.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, CNN.com, AssociatedPress.com Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
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