Confession time: I play D&D. I actively play Dungeons and Dragons, the iconic fantasy role-playing game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and first published in 1974. Depending on who you talk to, people who play this game are nerds, outcasts, rejects, and sometimes Satan-worshippers or witches (or something, I don’t know). Some of that is probably true.
What is this D&D, you ask? Well, here’s the official line from Hasbro-owned Wizards of the Coast.
Since the people of the Web love lists, here are five reasons I want my children to play D&D…
1. Dungeons and Dragons is about imagination. It is sitting at a table, with some books, paper and pencil (or their electronic equivalent, PDFs and spreadsheets), and using the power of your mind to throw yourself into a fantasy world. Everything that your characters do is something you decided for them to do. This is no video game designer laying out choices for you. In my 20-plus years of gaming, our characters have started wars, ended wars, rescued people, killed monsters, started towns, started criminal organizations, thrown parades, stopped parades, bought bars, built temples, in addition to countless other things.
2. Dungeons and Dragons is structure. No creative endeavor, be it art, music, writing or performance, can exist without a framework of rules and boundaries. Our English language is built on 26 letters and our music 12 notes. It is the creative person’s mission to build something in the context of that structure that is worthwhile and maybe even entertaining.
3. Dungeons and Dragons is social. You can’t play this game alone. It requires at least two people, and typically four to eight. Interacting with other people, especially face-to-face, is important. It just is.
4. Dungeons and Dragons is performance. In a game, you are always performing for other people. You’re very much an actor playing a character. And just like a performer, sometimes you fall flat on your face. No one laughs, or doesn’t find what you do believable. Any performing artist will tell you that, though this hurts, it’s made them better people.
5. Dungeons and Dragons is problem-solving. The dungeon master (DM), the individual who runs the game, is responsible for challenging the players. The DM must sit down and come up with problems that the players may or may not solve. Players find the problems and try to solve them. I don’t know what part of the brain this helps, but I’m sure it’s important for cognitive development. Or something.
If you can think of more great reasons children should play D&D, share it in the comments!