Today, I’m pleased to present a post from Dylan Luongo. Dylan, @vanhelsquirrel on Twitter, runs Vanhelsquirrel’s Maps and Modules, which you should certainly check out. He creates maps for tabletop roleplaying games as well as for novels (like mine). He’s also an avid player of tabletop RPGs, and here he’s going to give you five reasons to play roleplaying games. — Laura

die and sheets for a roleplaying game
A 20-sided die and character sheets for Dungeons and Dragons.

As you’ve probably guessed from the title and topic, I’m an avid proponent of tabletop roleplaying games. The most famous of these games, which you’ve probably heard of, is Dungeons and Dragons. (Which is the one played in Stranger Things.) Dungeons and Dragons isn’t the only roleplaying game, though — there are many others with different appeals and focuses. But all of these games share some core features and qualities that make them great uses of your spare time. Here are five reasons to play roleplaying games.

1. Roleplaying games are inherently social.

Roleplaying games (RPGs) are, in my opinion, among the most social games you can play. In RPGs, a group of players cooperate to tell an interesting story as they work together to overcome challenges. For this reason, these games are collaborative at heart and center around communicating with other people. The story you create with your fellow players is just as important as the game’s mechanics. And, as in many other social gatherings, playing an RPG requires players to form a “social contract” between themselves. All in all, this creates a unique social element in a game focused on interaction with fellow players.

2. RPGs help you develop everyday life skills.

While there are a great many games that encourage the use and development of valuable life skills, RPGs are unique in that they require the use of so many different ones. RPGs harness a variety of skills from basic reading comprehension, basic math, and good problem-solving to good interpersonal communication and self-confidence. Outside of the game itself, gathering a party of “adventurers” together requires you to exercise leadership and organizational skills — you’ll need to be prepared and maintain a schedule.

3. RPGs inspire creativity.

At bare minimum, players need (or ought) to create characters who have personality, motivations, and plausible reasons to be involved in the story. It’s important to note that RPGS, unlike video games and most boardgames, are open-ended, so the solutions available to players are nearly infinite. Your imagination is the limit. Many RPGS encourage players to put their own spin or “brand” on the game’s mechanics. Want to play in a fantasy world entirely of your own creation? Go for it! Feel like playing Princess Elsa from Frozen as a character? Perfectly doable! The confines of most RPGs aren’t, well, confining — nearly anything’s possible.

4. RPGs encourage you to think beyond your own experiences.

In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable lessons to learn today. A huge component of roleplaying games is getting into the mind of your character, and making decisions that fit your character as opposed to yourself. This is why we call them “roleplaying” games! Obviously, I’m not a warlock in real life (as far as you know), but I play one in D&D. In fact, I usually play a character of the opposite gender who has very different motivations from my own. Playing this character allows me to explore an identity that I am not without consequences. In general, playing a character different from you helps you learn how to think about the experiences and opinions of others. It also gives you a safe space to work at understanding things beyond your real life experiences.

5. RPGs are a unique and valuable form of fun.

Obviously, I think RPGs are fun — I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise, would I?

The thing is, these games aren’t just fun, they aren’t just “play” — they are useful and help us develop even while enjoying a game in a social environment. Playing an RPG is about playing a game and enjoying a social gathering. Through RPGs, you’ll have fun with others, learn to respect the boundaries of your fellow players, and practice everyday life skills — plus use your imagination. All these components blended into one create a unique and uniquely valuable brand of fun.

roleplaying game books
Dice, books, and hex paper for first edition Dungeons and Dragons.

If you enjoyed “5 Reasons to Play Roleplaying Games,” read more on Voyage of the Mind!

Check out five reasons you should start gardening and five reasons you should learn to cook.

Also, read more off Voyage of the Mind. Check out this article about how to get started with roleplaying games!

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