RPG’s Day in the Sun

Note: this post originally appeared at supposedly.me.

rpg dice photo

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and Dragons allowed me to escape my self-absorbed suburban teen milieu[1] and exposed me to a world of stories, historical references, and strategies that continue to serve me well as an adult.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[2], 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[3], 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.


  1. A word I first learned thanks to D&D.  ↩

  2. Interestingly, our sessions were never as male-dominated as the statistics suggest, and I found they were much richer experiences as a result.  ↩

  3. I think a good session requires at least 90 minutes, preferably more, and a good campaign can span months or even years.  ↩

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