The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)
When you hear about role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, you probably picture a dimly-lit basement filled with people in silly robes rolling dice, but there’s much more to it than that. Not only are role-playing games incredibly fun, but they can actually teach you skills you’ll use in the real world.
When I first heard about role-playing games, I immediately thought it was something that was just for the nerdiest of nerds out there. I could only imagine how ridiculous it would feel to sit around a table with other people and act like someone—or something—else, pretending to fight goblins and dragons. The entire premise just sounded way “too geeky” for me—even as someone who was way into video games and other “nerdy” things.
Fast forward a couple years, and I found that I was completely wrong. As soon as I took a moment to strip away the facade of monsters and swords, role-playing games revealed themselves to be something far more interesting than other traditional games. 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. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s because it’s like every job out there. It turned out that it really wasn’t about the dungeons or the dragons at all—it’s about thinking critically and working like a team.
Now I indulge in role-playing games as often as I can. It’s nice to have an escape from the toils and troubles of the real world, but with every game session I play, I find that I actually learn something as well. Maybe it’s about myself and the way I think, maybe it’s something about one of my friends that brings us closer together, or maybe I just find a new way to look at something that I hadn’t thought of. I’ve learned that role-playing games are about more than playing a game, and more importantly, that they are for everybody.
Playing Cultivates Creativity. Creativity is the bread and butter of role-playing games. They have a certain quality that allows you to transcend typical game interactions. You have real freedom and the ability to move the story forward how you see fit. There are rules for each game, but they are merely the skeleton to whatever story you and your team want to create.
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. It’s good for you, the same way socializing or reading a book is good for you. In fact, as Jon Michaud of The New Yorker explains, reading comes with the territory:
…D. & D. is a textual, storytelling, world-creating experience, a great apprenticeship for a budding author. But, more fundamentally, you cannot play D. & D. without reading—a lot. Ed Park, in an essay on D. & D. (included in the anthology “Bound to Last”), celebrates the magnificent vocabulary of the game… Combined, the player’s manual, the Dungeon Master’s guide, and the monster manual (the core books of advanced D. & D.) add up to four hundred and sixty-eight pages of small-print, double-column text. I read them with studious devotion and headlong glee. Almost immediately, television all but disappeared from my life.
Before Michaud started playing, he spent his days watching TV while his grades were plummeting. As soon as the fantasy of D&D came into his life, however, that all changed. Michaud even goes so far as to say that Dungeons & Dragons “saved his life” because it got him on a better life track after reading more and finding something that excited him. Perhaps it won’t save your life, but it can still enhance it. As you play, you’ll develop creativity in a way you might not have experienced before. Whether you’re running the game as the “Dungeon Master”—controlling what happens to the players—or simply playing as one of the characters, your storytelling ability will increase.Dungeon Masters—also called Game Masters in some games—must be particularly good storytellers. Even if you’re using a pre-made adventure with most of the work already done, you still have to be ready to come up with dialogue and personalities for the non-player characters, and be able to vividly describe the world your players explore. As a player, you have to find ways to make your character more interesting by creating personality quirks or a rich backstory.
Role-playing games force you to draw from what you know and create something that you and others can enjoy. A lot of famous creators have been influenced by Dungeons & Dragons as well. Comedian Stephen Colbert, writer George R. R. Martin, comedian Robin Williams, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Community creator Dan Harmon all played at one time or another. Storytelling is the one of the most basic creative skills that you can draw on for so many other skills, and being a good storyteller can even make you a more charismatic person. Dive in to another world and see what kind of cool stuff you can come up. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with.
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Aye, Dark Overlord is a game my friends and I have yet to play, essentialy one player acts as the dark overlord and gives the rest of the group a task on what they are supposed to do, the thing is though the game starts with everyone failing that task and they have to explain to the dark overlord why they werent able to complete it. It takes quick thinking to win the game, essentailly there arent any winners only losers. But its funny I would love to play and try the game out. Here is a video from Yogscast in their new segment on their youtube channel known as game night
Table top games come in all shapes and sizes, we are often intruduced to them at a young age. There is a certain nostalgia factor when it comes to playing a board game, a sense of returning to a simpler time when you could just sit with your family or friends bad mouthing one another out of good fun. Many games fall into table top games and they are all different the most famous of table top games being Monopoly. Every one has played it and everyone knows about it, but there are other games you can strangle your friends over you see, some games dont even require a board! Some are just card games that come in a box, a really fun one in my opinion is One Night Ultimate Werewolf, a crazy game where up to 10 players try and figure out through clever misdirection and lying who are the 2 werewolves. Below is a video made by Game Grumps and in this segment of Game Grumps (known as table flip) they gather a few of their friends and play board games together, in this episode they are playing One Night Ultimate Werewolf which inspired my friends and I to buy the game ourselves.
Role playing games has a strange stigma about it. One of them being that it is a game where people sit in their grandmas basement away from the warm embrace of the sun. Funny enough though is that role playing games arent anything like that, well they could be I guess but not usually. In my experience role playing games are done with a group of friends just sitting around having a good time getting away from the world. Every Tuesday night my friends and I get together to play some Dungeons and Dragons. We have kept this tradition for over a year now and its still going strong. In recent years Dungeons and Dragons (and other role-playing games of the like) have been making a big wave and comeback in the mainstream media world. Many famous people have brought it to light about hwo they have been playing for years, and when given the chance seize the opprotunity to play.
One of (probably) the most well known famous person who plays DND when given the chance is Vin Diesel. He is a huge fan of the role playing game genre and has spoken out about how he has a tattoo of the name of one of his DND characters on him. On his birthday he even receieved a special cake to show case his love for dungeons and dragons.
Now he hasnt played to often in recent years but he does enjoy talking about it, I mean who doesnt enjoy cutting a goblin down to size? I know I do. Vin Diesel was given the chacne a couple of months back to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons with Critical Roles non other then Matt Mercer himself, a famous voice actor who has been in many animated movies, cartoons, video games and much more.
Now many people might not know who Mercer is. Which makes sense, you never see his face you only hear his voice. Most recently famous for playing Mcree in Overwatch. Mercer though is the brilliant mind behind Critical Role, a weekly DnD game that airs every Thursday on Twitch. He acts as dungeon master for his group of friends, and is in my own opinion the best DM in existence. He brilliantly creates this world where his other friends who are the players exist. Through his story telling and exposition they act and react in different ways. Mercer was given the chance to do a quick impromtu game for Vin Diesel which was notably very short, but very enjoyable to watch.
Below are a few examples of what a typical wargame setting looks like, many hours are spent in painting every individual piece showing that these games require alot of passion. (image's are not my own and are from this site http://www.lek.net/~sam/40k)
Usually games of this caliber take alot of time to get into full swing. But when you finish and have an army ready to go to war with.
Games such as these require alot of stratege, think of it like chess except you can choose and customize the pieces you wish to use on your side of the board.