This week we are Tackling Tough Topics on MK Tabletop Talk. As promised in last weeks review of No Thank You Evil!, the RPG specifically designed for children, we will be taking our side on "Why You Should Encourage Your Child to Play RPGs".
That being said, I know a lot of people are instantly skeptical, or flat out say things such as "No thanks, I'm not a (insert preferred term)".
Funny thing about that...
A lot of kids these days are sitting in their room, half a world away from their closest gaming "friend" as they spend countless hours staring at their screen playing a game. Hey, maybe your kid is slightly more social than that. Maybe he has a sibling or a friend that comes over to play ...in the same room! (I know who does that, right?) The location of the individuals involved is not the true question. The point of the entire thing is to be socially interacting with other human beings. Most Video Gamers have more social interaction with their view screen of choice than they do with the person who could be sitting right next to them. Look at the blank stare on the faces of people playing video games. Slack-jaw? Check. Vacant, yet intense stare? Check. Interaction with your fellow players?
While most people would not guess it, I am quite shy and introverted. One of the many ways I combat my shyness and prepare myself for the needed interactions with strangers is by playing RPGs. Between joining others in person and using the "mask" or "shield" of my character as my defense against just being kinda awkward in general, I am able to muster strength. I have used speeches that I needed to make (slightly modified for game) to test them out. Get comfortable with saying it out loud. The practice of verbal skills and social interaction is just one of the many benefits of encouraging your child to play RPGs.
The most common term for this is being a "Team Player". If you want your children to get a jump on the world by learning to work well with others in order to achieve a common goal, than look no further! RPGs take everyone involved and places them in a group facing the same situation. The goal? To figure out the problem, create an answer and combine efforts to reach that solution.
That is also a very basic description of almost every supervisor or management job on the market. Instilling these crucial skills early can be a huge advantage in school, within the workforce, or even in entrepreneurship. The basics are the same.
Guide your Child to learn not just to see the issue at hand, but to look for the cause of it. Train their brain to see problems in layers. Add the process of forethought. It's that "I see that X is the problem, and Y will solve it, but we need to be ready to deal with Z" kind of thinking. The brain of your child will be honed to involve broad thinking knowing that there is always a solution. There is always an answer. You just have to know where to look. As we all know this may not be true in reality, but by training the thinking process to include the possibility of an answer in every situation, by default we look for a way to rebound and grow from any obstacle we overcome. Even those that are deemed a complete failure.
This concept is constantly put to practice in every RPG I have ever played. As before mentioned, you as a group are presented with a situation. You must critically assess all aspects possible and determine the best coarse of action then execute said plan all within a set limit of time.
Sometimes the biggest breakthrough comes when you look at things from a different point of view. If you are too busy arguing over how many boards you see in front of you, you will never progress beyond your own perspective. Critical thinking. Thinking outside the box. Thinking on your toes. There are plenty of terms for it. What it really comes down to?
Another great way to inspire your child into greatness is to not only allow, but encourage them to let their mind wander sometimes. Let them think about how many fish there are in the ocean. Let them tell you about their "research" on fairies and the life they live. Stretching the imagination is at the root of all of our worlds greatest discoveries.
Yes, they are sitting around a Tabletop rolling some dice and talking about numbers and rule text. But in the mind? Those pages of charts and those oddly shaped dice? They are allowing your child to strap on their breastplate, sharpen their sword and become more than just the pages they read. They become the story they tell. Where you might see books, they see worlds of wonder and magical beasts. Where you see oddly shaped dice, they see bows, arrows and spells blasting from their fingertips.
Just another amazing outcome of involving your kids in the RPG universe!
You know. Numbers and stuff. I haven't even mentioned that (depending on the system) there is pretty extensive amounts of math. We aren't talking calculus or anything, but keeping track of all the stats, bonuses, penalties and such? Looking at angles and line of sight? Doing the basic math to see if it is "worth making the attempt"? That sounds an awful lot like "making an informed decision on the financial impact compared to the benefits of the outcome" to me. Again by practicing even the simplest of math equations regularly we stimulate that portion of the brain.
The Wrap Up
I could go on and on (I am sure some of you think I have already) about the underlying benefits of playing RPGs. Besides the winning combination of Real World Skills that you can gain from the experience, regardless of what world you decide to run in, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or a world of your own making, there is one very important part of playing the game that has nothing to do with developing your skills set. It has much more to do with feeding and maintaining your happiness. When was the last time you really allowed yourself to have pure, uninhibited fun? Drink a pint (or three) of courage at the bar and grab the Karaoke mic? Put on that old CD you loved in high school and dance along with your memories while nobody else was in the room? You were in a moment where you felt you could do it without worry of ridicule from anyone.
Why wait until you have to find your inner child?
Why not start "leveling up" your child's imagination early?
Concepts of technology were not born of calculations. It was in the mind that boldly marched its imagination toward the unknown that it spawned. True soul-touching music is not born of instruments. It is the free flow of creativity that gives life and lends emotion to the sequence of notes. The worlds greatest leaders are not made by following the paths of others. They are made by having the ability to forge another trail and guide their people along it safely.
But, you know, just my two cents.
Until next time ...Game On! -MK