Gnome Stew (an RPG advice and theory site for game masters) posted an article a few days ago positing 10 Reasons Why Roleplaying Games Are a Positive Force for Kids and Adults Alike. The premise caught our attention and inspired us to expand their argument a bit. The article starts out with some basic info on roleplaying (including the standard roleplayers aren’t Satanists…), but the 10 reasons are the main attraction. Most of these apply to hobby games more broadly, as we will demonstrate!
1. Roleplaying Games Foster Creativity – This one can definitely be expanded beyond RPGs. Just check out the amazing number of fan creations and extensions on Board Game Geek and you can see that hobby games just get the creative juices flowing.
2. Roleplaying Teaches Problem Solving – Most board games have a strong problem solving element, but even miniature games have problem solving at their core – check out No Quarter’s challenge article that sets up a situation and challenges the reader to win in one turn (the CCG version of this was the old Scrye column to help the world’s “worst” Magic player).
3. …And Teamwork – This is one where RPGs are definitely better. Sure, there are a number of cooperative board games now and days, but they’re still a rarity.
4. Roleplaying Comes With a Social Network – Wow, this one definitely applies to all hobby games. Whether its the various board game groups I’m part of or the miniature gaming clubs or the cult of war gamers, hobby games just seem to cause like-minded people to come together.
5. Gamers are Smart – Aw…shucks. Its seems true enough, though – hobby games just seem to attract smart people.
6. Gamers Come From All Walks of Life – Yup. And once you get beyond roleplayers, its even more true. From scientists to engineers to tradesmen to kids, gamers come from all walks of life.
7. Running Games Teach a Host of Skills – RPGs probably do the best job of this, but let’s not overlook all of the skills your average miniature gamer employs – sculpting, painting, strategic planning (army list creation is inherently a strategy activity), tactical planning and sportsmanship.
8. Gaming is a Great Way to Learn Etiquette – All hobby games are social in nature – these games are played with other people. Whether its the intimate one-on-one interaction of a wargame or the large, free-for-all group of a board game, you’ve got to learn to be nice to play hobby games.
9. Roleplaying Can Open Doors – I’m not real sure on this one, but I know plenty of people who have turned some aspect of hobby gaming into a profitable venture (heck, some of them even write here!).
10. Gaming Builds Lasting Friendships – I couldn’t agree more here. Nearly all of my long term friendships have been with people who game – we have common interests and an activity that encourages us coming together on a regular basis to hang out.
I may be biased, but I think Gnome Stew has it right. Gaming is just plain good for you – think I’m going to get in a game of Agricola right now actually…
Gaming is Healthy for the Mind – For the younger set, it builds intelligence. For the older folks, exercising the mind helps prevent memory loss, dementia, and similar conditions.
I suppose it’s fair to say that RPGs specifically do several other things too..such as encouraging players to read. And when I say ‘read’ I don’t just mean the player guides. I mean non-game stuff such as genre fiction and even nonfiction such as history, sociology, anthropology etc.
Secondly, a well-narrated pen-and-paper dungeon-crawl game, or any other game for that matter that involves mapping, can exercise the mathematics/geometry/logic portion of the brain. Very few modern video games give that sort of mental workout.