The Benefits of Tabletop Role Playing Games
By Jen Novis LMFT
Over the last couple of decades, there has been a lot of discussion about the negative effects of video games on children and teens. Parents have become concerned about children and teens becoming desensitized to violence, not having enough physical activity, or even becoming addicted to video gaming. These are valid concerns that need to be mindfully addressed and, if necessary, treated.
However, there is another kind of gaming that is often overlooked that has very positive benefits for its players. This kind of gaming is called Tabletop Role Playing Games, which is often abbreviated to TTRPGs. A common TTRPG goes by the name Dungeons and Dragons which I will abbreviate to D&D. A role-playing game is a game in which a group of players create characters and imbue them with certain abilities and traits. The players then take their characters on adventures where they get to explore a fantasy world, engage in tactical and strategic battles, and engage in social interactions that challenge them to work together and solve problems as a group. The stories and battles are led by another player who takes on the role of the leader, also known as the Dungeon Master (DM).
Several positive effects of this kind of gaming are:
· Improved social skills and decreased isolation
· Stronger creative thinking and problem-solving skills
· Increased self-confidence and self-esteem
· Ability to express wants and needs assertively
· Improved practice with taking turns and impulse control
· Increased empathy and developing bonds with others
In addition to the benefits of playing TTRPGs for children and teens there are benefits for adults as well. Getting together with friends and playing a game that allows them to work cooperatively against a fictional enemy can provide a catharsis that is much needed in our stressful lives. TTRPGs can help adults to decrease the potential for isolation, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, during the pandemic, the D&D official website, (https://dnd.wizards.com/) posted several free adventures for players and published a guide on how to play D&D via the internet to reduce the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These days there are many, many types of TTRPGs available for any kind of player. There are TTRPGs for people who want to play as characters in Star Wars or Star Trek, as a vampire or werewolf or even as a cat or a dog. There really is something out there for everyone and the benefits are clear.
Krieger, Liz. “How Role-Playing Games Can Give Your Kid a Mental Health Boost.” Family, National Geographic, 16 Feb. 2022, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/article/role-playing-games-can-give-kids-a-mental-health-boost
Lear, Katie. “Dungeons and Dragons as Therapy? How This Popular Game Helps Mental Health.” Child Counseling in Davidson, Child Counseling in Davidson, 14 Oct. 2021, https://www.katielear.com/child-therapy- blog/2020/5/20/dungeons-and-dragons-as-therapy-mental-health.