Here be Dragons - Their History and Importance in Fantasy Games

Every fantasy game worth its salt features a dragon at some point. These giant, fire breathing monsters clearly have enduring appeal, as evidenced by their continual appearance in a wide range of fantasy-based media. From the friendly but fearsome Toothless in the How to Train your Dragon series, to the much more deadly trio controlled by Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, these creatures are fascinating to young and old alike.

No wonder, then, that fantasy video games, role-play games, and even slot games almost always have a dragon or two in the mix. But where did the idea of these titanic and terrible creatures come from, and how do the dragons of today contrast with those found in the folklore of human history? We will give a very brief history of the dragon, and look at some of the best games where they can be found.

Origins - Where do Dragons Come From?

One of the most curious things about the idea of dragons is their universality. Throughout human history, and across multiple civilisations around the globe, many descriptions of a dragon-like creature have been recorded. Even more fascinating is that most of these appear to be entirely independent and not influenced by any legends from other cultures.

Look closely enough at the mythology of any ancient peoples, and there may well be a dragon there. Even scholars on the subject - yes, there are books and papers on the dragon myths - cannot agree on the earliest depictions, although they go back several millennia. Ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, practically every corner of the Asian continent, as well as Norse mythology - all have their own version of these creatures. Even in some Native American lore there is mention of sea-serpent beasts that walk on land.

The fire-breathing dragons we are most familiar with today had their origins in the Middle Ages, building on imagery from Roman and Greek mythology. The first recognisable depiction comes from a mediaeval manuscript from around 1260 AD. The most famous Western story of these beasts is the legend of St George slaying the dragon, rescuing the captive princess, and of course persuading all the townsfolk to convert to Christianity while he was at it.

Where these collective myths come from remains a mystery. Some scholars have suggested that ancient peoples discovered fossils of dinosaurs, and that this is where the stories come from. However, even in areas where there are no such remains, the legends existed. Perhaps the universal desire for dragons to exist goes beyond any physical evidence.

Dungeons and Dragons - the Original

Before video games became widely available, the original fantasy role-playing game was Dungeons and Dragons. Created in 1974, this iconic game became wildly popular because of its storytelling and world-building format. Even those who have never played know what is meant by D&D. Naturally, dragons feature prominently in more than just the title.

D&D is one of the first places where we see dragons characterised as allies as well as foes. There are also different classes of dragon, with different abilities and characteristics. The dragon imagery in D&D was part of the reason why the game inspired a moral panic in the 1980s, as some view the beast to have Satanic associations.Fast Payout Slots with Dragon Themes - Eastern Imagery

Dragons have also found their way into many modern video slot games, but in most of these the creatures are from Eastern traditions. This is small wonder, since Chinese dragons are associated with luck, fortune and prosperity. Many of these fast payout slots, like Dragon Kings from BetSoft, were created to appeal to Asian markets but have become extremely popular elsewhere as well (read this article to find out more about online slots with fast payouts).

Eastern-themed slots almost always feature a dragon somewhere, but there are also a few fast paying slots that have more Western-style dragons. One of the most recent releases is Dio - Killing the Dragon by Play’n GO, a branded game for the American heavy metal band Dio. This slot features original music and a whole lot of fire-breathers in the graphics.

Most Popular Dragon Video Games

Dragons are an important part of the lore of the Elder Scrolls series, reappearing in Skyrim having been believed extinct in the vein of Game of Thrones. Similarly, World of Warcraft has a detailed and well-developed history of dragons, including a fall from a previously unassailable position of power.

There are three outstanding video game series that centre dragons in the action. The first two, Dragon's Dogma and Dragon Age (with the third instalment of the latter (selling over 6 million copies worldwide), follow a similar theme of mediaeval-inspired fantasy role-play. Both have been so successful that they have expanded to include animated series based on the game. The third game that we would like to highlight shows a different type of dragon game. In Spyro the Dragon, the titular character is the main protagonist and is a friendly hero, off to rescue his dragon kin.

So, it seems that, even after millennia, our fascination with dragons continues to this day.

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Last Updated: Jan 06, 2023