Note: this post originally appeared at supposedly.me.
Sports writer Jon Michaud’s recent New Yorker piece, Dungeons and Dragons Saved My Life, gives much-deserved recognition to how valuable role-playing games (RPG’s) can be in preparing us for a life of creativity, productive enterprise, and problem-solving.
Growing up in the eighties, Dungeons and Dragons allowed me to escape my self-absorbed suburban teen milieu and exposed me to a world of stories, historical references, and strategies that continue to serve me well as an adult. It also provided much needed face-to-face social interaction for an introverted geek like me, and helped to fire up my desire to start telling my own stories. I still remember my first session at Boy Scout camp in 1981. I played a first-level halfling thief, and was duly placed head-on against a dragon; the DM was a little inexperienced, and I fared as well as you might expect, but I loved every minute of that character’s ill-fated life.
As a high-school teacher, I used to be able to get a bunch of young people together to play RPG’s after school, where I saw that they remain every bit as relevant and fun as they were in my day—better, even, now that there’s such a wide range of worlds and game mechanics to explore. These days, however, I can’t seem to find a group that wants to get together. I’m not sure if it’s because my student’s time is no longer as open for gaming, or if their interests have moved elsewhere.
I haven’t been part of a table-top RPG group in over twenty-five years, and yet I still avidly read and collect new games and resources, and often use them as inspiration for my work. It’s great to know that they’re still saving people’s lives, including mine.
A word I first learned thanks to D&D. ↩
Interestingly, our sessions were never as male-dominated as the statistics suggest, and I found they were much richer experiences as a result. ↩
I think a good session requires at least 90 minutes, preferably more, and a good campaign can span months or even years. ↩