A really brief but REALLY important sidebar before we get into the article. I’ve set up a Patreon for Dungeons and Dragons content where I’ll post content for tabletop games in the hopes of improving the quality of your games. I also know that Dungeons and Dragons can directly improve the quality of one’s life (which this article will go into detail on), and so I hope I can by extension help do that too. I’d really appreciate any level of support, sharing and commenting are both free, so why not that? <3 Enough preamble!
It’s easy for people who look down on the game to write off Dungeons and Dragons as ‘playing make believe’. That statement attempts to belittle the game by making it appear like a game for children, but the truth is it’s a game that evolves as you do. The older you get the more you understand what you want out of it. Also, I don’t think ‘playing make believe’ is inherently a bad thing; I know many adults who’ve heard me talk about creative ideas I’ve had and exclaimed, “I used to be creative when I was ‘x’ years old but I lost it when I got older.” I recognize everyone is quite different but for me I think that’s awful; I can’t imagine my life without a creative spark to it. I wonder how many people would have kept that creative spark if they ‘played make believe’ more in their adult life. Beyond that, tabletop games are capable of profound improvements in one’s life. You put in as much as you’d like into the game and have it returned with interest. Whether it’s for fun, social interaction, stress relief or something deeper like growing skills and overcoming internal conflict, this game facilitates growth. These reasons are why I made so many posts discussing how to be a respectful player of the game because it can seriously impact someone’s life in many ways. One problem player can end up ruining the experience for an entire group of 3 to 6 other people, all of which may be getting a lot more out of this game than simple enjoyment.
Dungeons and Dragons can help you address problems in your life, be that conscious or subconscious, and enable you to make peace with them through roleplay. When we make and roleplay characters, most players naturally insert pieces of themselves into them to help create a level of understanding to make roleplaying them more natural and fluid. In doing this we have the happy side-effect of it being almost therapeutic, deeply fulfilled in our character’s and our own growth as they overcome these obstacles. It’s important to realize that Dungeons and Dragons is NOT a substitute for seeking professional help, nor should it be an alternative to therapy, but oftentimes it can help address topics we either aren’t aware of or are perhaps afraid of reaching out for help on. This isn’t speculation either, studies have been done on this (which I will go in greater detail on later).
I’ve had times where my characters have had issues I gave them without realizing they were issues I myself were having and had buried deep to avoid. Through the game I ended up understanding myself and how to approach these hurdles on a greater level. Even topics that can be viewed as extremely delicate, uncomfortable and touchy, topics people often feel uncomfortable even mentioning to others like survivors guilt, close family deaths and trauma from sexual assault, can be traits put into a character. You can then address it at your character’s (which often mirror’s your own) pace and when you feel comfortable you can bring up with a group of trusted friends through roleplay to gauge their response and receive care, comfort, love and advice through the natural way a scene is roleplayed between your friends and their characters. It can oftentimes be easier for friends to know what to say and be confident in their words when they’re speaking as their character rather than as themselves. While making characters, people also add traits they don’t personally have to add nuance to roleplaying. This ensures you to address these conflicts in character without giving any information about you that you don’t want directly shared.
Dungeons and Dragons goes beyond just being a simple game to play. Studies have shown it to have numerous benefits on one’s development of social skills, cooperativeness, communication skills, emotional expression, development of relationships, creative thinking, better understanding of negative consequences from actions and a better sense of self. It has been used to help children with developmental issues, disruptive tendencies, autism and ADHD that were struggling with growth in school. This allows them to express themselves in a judgment free creative outlet, with their grades increasing significantly and with reports of better behavior in classrooms. If you’re curious about this, I’ve linked some resources at the end of the article you can check out.
I don’t want to give off the impression that this game is only for people seeking emotional growth. It’s really damn fun and for many people it’s simply a time to truly immerse yourself in another world altogether, to forget about the worries and stresses of our own for a few hours at a time. It’s a pure form of entertainment and social interaction, and the value of unwinding and de-stressing can’t be understated. Stress can be a major contributor to many physical and mental maladies, so it’s really important to make sure you take care of yourself. Dungeons and Dragons will go a long way in doing that, but remember to be kind to yourself away from the table as well. Give yourself breaks when your body tells you it needs one and use positive affirmation instead of negative whenever you have internal dialogue. You deserve to be happy and loved; don’t ever let anyone or anything convince you otherwise.
And… that’s a wrap! I can’t express how much the seemingly simple game of Dungeons and Dragons has improved my life over the 14 years since I started playing it. I’ve also seen time and time again signs of it improving the confidence and communicational skills of both myself and the people I’ve played with. It’s a hobby I genuinely believe anyone can enjoy if they give it an earnest effort and have a good group, it’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to be a respectful player. I hope you guys have enjoyed the content I’ve been making these past few months and I hope you’ll check out the new influx of content I’ll be making that more directly translates to tabletop gaming over at my Patreon! Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed, and until next time stay healthy and happy!
You can find articles/studies I mentioned earlier at these links!