The Importance of Role-Playing Games

By Drew Wilson

Much of today’s gaming aesthetics are virtual realities played through a platform like a PlayStation of Xbox (etc. . .). While video games are often enjoyable, they lack important skills that will be necessary in life: teamwork and communication. Sure, you may play a video-game where you control more than one character at a time. Or, you might set-up a strategy for multiple NPC’s to aid you in completing specific objectives. But, the video-game will always have preset avenues that will never be changed. There is usually only a few ways to complete an objective in a video game, and once that objective is complete, the game will preset other objectives. On the other hand, in a role-playing board game (RPG), there is a plethora of glamorous—or hideous—ways to complete an objective. Many people tend to think of RPG’s likeDungeons and Dragons as extravagant gatherings for nerds to dress up and play in a medieval setting. Not so much! Patrick Allan, a blogger for Lifehacker, just recently came to the realization of how important and effective RPG’s can be! He states, “Behind the fantasy adventures was a fun social gathering that required you to think on your toes, solve problems, be creative, and ultimately learn how to become a team player.” Creativity and storytelling are only the beginning elements of skill-building that RPG’s produce.

A role-playing game forces you to take your current knowledge and produce a solution to a range of situations from being in physical danger to earning money and building an empire. Patrick Allan continues to explain how RPG’s intentionally activate your brain:

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains, and role-playing games do this incredibly well. When we tell stories—or experience them—our brains have to process language, the cause and effect of events, and also relate it to our own pre-existing experiences. While you’re playing a role-playing game, your brain is firing on all cylinders.

You may be placed in situations you have never thought of. Or, you might be placed in a situation that is relatively familiar, but the effects of culture refute your usual way of handling the dilemma. Either way, the various situations will aid in forcing you to be more creative and innovative in problem solving. In addition, some RPG’s like Dungeons and Dragonsrequires a story-teller (a Dungeon Master—DM) to carry the game onward. This position requires an intense amount of thought and improvisation as you may react in a multiplicity of ways to character decisions. Reactions will vary from peaceful to hostile or thieving to honorable. The DM’s job is to effectively (and cleverly) react appropriately to make the story fun and exciting.

 Again, these types of skills and form of imagination cannot be accessed via video-games. RPG’s, as well as other board games, must be utilized to get our brains working and communicative skills in motion. For more benefits of RPG’s, check out the rest of Patrick Allan’s article at the link at Lifehacker.

(All citations taken from the above link: posted 2/9/15)

Drew Wilson is a Reader for SLAM and an English Major at the College at Southeastern. He enjoys reading, writing, board games, and music. He has a strong passion for teaching percussion at various high schools throughout the Raleigh-Durham area.

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