The Atlantic

The Friends Who Have Been Playing the Same Game of Dungeons & Dragons for 30 Years

“It’s an excuse for us to constantly keep in touch and not drift away.”
Source: Wenjia Tang

Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.

This week, she talks with a group of friends who have been playing Dungeons & Dragons together for nearly 30 years. They all went to the same high school in Huntington Beach, California, in the late 1980s. While no one is quite sure when this exact group began playing together, they have two campaigns that have been going continuously since the early ’90s, with the same characters. In this interview, they introduce some of their characters and discuss how the game has served as the glue for their friendship, giving them an excuse to get together regularly, even when life is busy.

The Friends

Dongheon Cha, 48, a manager at an adhesive-tape company who lives in Whittier, California
Tony Flynn, 48, a marketing researcher who lives in Los Angeles, California
Ken Godbille, an opera singer and IT worker who lives in Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany.
Dennis Kudlik, 48, a dentist who lives in Placentia, California
Chuck Sanderson, 49, a project manager for a software company who lives in Beaverton, Oregon
Greg Squires, 47, a gymnastics coach who lives in Anaheim, California

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Julie Beck: So how did you all get interested in Dungeons & Dragons?

Remember, we grew up in the ’80s. It was a huge fad in the ’80s. When I was in fourth and fifth grade, everybody was playing it at recess and lunch. It hadn’t yet acquired its nerdy or geeky reputation. It was just this fad thing that all the kids were doing. I was playing with another group until I met these guys.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
How Black Suffragettes Subverted the Domestic Sphere
Anna Julia Cooper was among the educators who emphasized the power of communal care as a method of addressing larger structural ills.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Hong Kong’s Protests Have Cemented Its Identity
Chinese authorities have long sought to sway Hong Kongers, but more and more, residents of the city see it as being distinct from the mainland.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
‘One Belt One Road’ Is Just a Marketing Campaign
China’s signature project is actually a sweeping, poorly coordinated branding effort posing as an infrastructure initiative.