A Defense of the Table Top

Brad Hicks, Guest Writer • bhicks14@ehc.edu

Think for a moment about the nerdiest thing that you can possibly imagine. No, not that scrawny thirteen year old with the taped glasses and braces. Think about the nerdiest thing, or object, or activity that leaps to mind. If you’re like most people, the thing that probably leaped to mind for you was a game called Dungeons & Dragons, a game that fits within the genre of Table Top Role Playing Game.

And you should play it. I can hear your protests now: Dungeons & Dragons is stupid, it’s a waste of time, it’s for nerds with no social skills, and so on. Just give me a bit here. Let me explain. People tend to think of Dungeons & Dragons as this arcane, incomprehensible game of unfathomable complexity only understandable and enjoyable by the most hardcore of basement dwellers, a game that devours the social life (and in some extreme blame cases, actual lives…) with zero redeeming qualities whatsoever. This is not the case.

In the past, Dungeons & Dragons may have been about antisocial nerds with zero social skills hiding from society in a dark basement, but now, we can see the benefits that this game can bestow upon its players. It’s even being used by a psychologist to help people with disabilities. Let’s look at a few of the other benefits. In the current digital world we inhabit, where phones and computers act more like extensions of our bodies for engaging with others and gathering information, a game that allows one to put down the device and actually connect with the other players around the table is a rarity.

Bouncing off of that idea, Dungeons & Dragons is designed for players to cooperate with each other to overcome challenges. Due to the incredibly flexible nature of the game, there’s no one set way to solve any one problem, and often, the game presents players with problems that are ultimately insurmountable by a singular actor. In a world of fantasy media full of solo power fantasies, where the capital ‘Y’ You get to be the hero, a game that champions cooperation and teamwork to reach success is an invaluable tool.

Dungeons & Dragons isn’t simply a game, it’s practice for individuals to work in teams. On top of that, it’s two kinds of practice at once. Dungeons & Dragons is a Role-Playing Game. Players don’t play themselves, they play a different person. Since players don’t play themselves, their character may not have the same ideas about how to tackle an issue, so players also get to exercise their ability to see alternate perspectives. This not only enables people to practice considering alternate viewpoints when tackling a problem, it also lets them flex their critical thinking brain muscles.

Right, so hopefully I’ve made a case for why this game is useful. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t really an answer the main point though: Why should you play Dungeons & Dragons? It’s simple: The game is just fun. No, really. The game is really fun.

The whole point of Dungeons & Dragons is to get together with a group of friends and have a good time around a table. It may not be the most common party experience, but if you can get a group of friends together to give the game a spin, it’s certainly worth your time. You’ll pick up some excellent skills, along with having a great time with your friends. Ask anyone who’s spent time playing the game what their favorite moment is playing the game, and I’m willing to bet that they’ll describe some hilarious inside joke or fabulously wonderful moment they had that strengthened their friendship with the other people around the table.

So grab some friends, pick up some dice, and go give it a shot.

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