There is a certain stigma attached to nerds of all types, but to fans of role playing games in particular. Especially Dungeons and Dragons. People who have no clue what a role playing game is at least know the term “Dungeons and Dragons” even if it is only to poke fun at a player of the game.
So why would I want to teach my kids how to play a game, and ultimately encourage them to explore other games in the RPG industry? Do I want them to become outcasts of society and spend the majority of their time in the darkness of the basement (I don’t have a basement) and be picked on by jocks? No.
(P.S. Jocks are nerds just the same, but instead of knowing the intricacies of Magic Missile and the amount of damage their +1 daggers can do, they are focused on how many yards their fantasy football player rushed for in the second half of last season. Think about that.)
So why would I encourage, hell, even teach, my kids to play role playing games? First a little defense. The geek culture is quickly moving away from the fringe of society and becoming more mainstream. I remember a time when the only place to get a comic book was at an actual comic book store. And forget about seeing heroes other than Batman and Superman on the big screen. Most people did not even know who Iron Man was and thought Wolverine was a brand of work boot.
And look at Comic Con! The largest spectacle of the geek culture in the world. A week long celebration of everything awesome.
My kids are lucky to be coming into a generation that appreciates imagination and creativity, and does not shun stories of wizards, dragons, super heros, and magic.
So let me get back on track here. Why am I teaching my kids Dungeons and Dragons.
Everyone is a story teller at heart. All of history has been passed down through stories. As a child, one of the first things we do is create stories using our toys. RPG’s are basically a game of telling stories. I am a story teller, so why wouldn’t I want to teach my kids a game that revolves around story telling?
Low Tech Exercises the Imagination
I am a big fan of technology. Anyone I know can verify that for you. But there is something special about the low tech aspect of board games and table top games. There is something even more special about pen and paper role playing. If all you have in front of you is a character sheet, a few dice, and some dungeon master literally telling you what is happening then your imagination is forced to do a workout. There are no fancy animations or voice overs or an algorithm doing all the work for you. You put yourself in the game and you play the story out in your head.
As much as I would like to create my own character and advance him to a level 20 half elf half human half ogre wizard, I might have a hard time doing that if a 9 year old is creating the campaigns. (Or maybe a 9 year old would make it even easier to advance him through the levels.)
Anyway…my kids are 9 and 6 so it stands to reason that I should be the dungeon master while they play their characters. It will be more fun for them that way and I can always sway the game one way or another if they are not having fun.
Now the great thing about Dungeons and Dragons is that they will be forced to work together and learn how to handle problems as a team instead of individually. They will also learn when it is important for an individual to handle a situation and when it is important for someone else to back them up. My kids fight constantly. Team work will be good for them.
It Is an Excuse for Me to Play RPG’s Again
Along with my cousin and my brother, we played a lot of RPG’s. Our experience with Dungeons and Dragons was limited compared to most people, but there were other games we played. Board games, table top games, video games, and of course card games. I’m lookin’ at you, Magic: The Gathering. My favorite games were always the ones that allowed me to advance a character or team of characters as I moved them from adventure to adventure. Now I get to relive these experiences all over again, but this time with my kids.
So there you have it. No matter what you think of geeks and nerds that play Dungeons and Dragons, role playing games can actually be good for you.
What other advantages of gaming can you think of?