Why Everyone Should Play Dungeons and Dragons

If you already play Dungeons and Dragons, you likely already agree that everyone should play D&D. Maybe you don’t play and you are curious. What is D&D? Maybe the only version of D&D you have ever witnessed were those scenes from Stranger Things.

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Or Freaks and Geeks

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Or Community

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It seems once we graduate from elementary school, move onto secondary schools, and eventually get a job, we forget to put time into stimulating our imagination. Work, Weekend, Repeat. We hit the bar on sixth to blow off steam, but pretty soon that gets too repetitive too. Existing becomes a mindless blur of elevator button dings mixing with front desk greetings and the incessant tapping from typing at desks. You come home exhausted, fix dinner, turn on the television to allow yourself to empty your mind. You get time to relax, yet you still feel unsatisfied, because there is something missing. That something is the ability to think, to let your mind wander into a faraway land or some distant galaxy. Maybe you read fantasy novels and so argue you have a means of escapism. Even when you read a fantasy, however, you are still lacking in creativity. That is, the means to create. You need a safe place to explore the “What if” and the “What happens when.” We are taught to give up on make believe at a certain age. We are taught that it is unproductive, but that is just not true. We desperately need outlets to utilize our imaginations, to explore uncharted territories with our friends, to experiment, and to learn.

D&D is a tactical role-playing game which requires spatial reasoning, basic math, and problem solving – skills applicable to your daily life. D&D shows you how to work in a team. It’s a known fact in the D&D universe that splitting up and flying solo could prove fatal for a player. Maybe you are someone who gets anxious at the thought of conversing with that Jim or Jane you just know you will never get along with at work. D&D is a game where you could learn how to deal with those people, and how to deal with people in general if you find you are socially anxious.

As a Dungeon Master, you must craft the world, describing it in detail in order to paint a cohesive picture within the players’ minds. It challenges the DM to question – what might I likely find in this location? How do I describe it? You will tap into your storytelling ability as you craft a series of scenarios for the players to encounter. Anyone who wants to hone their storytelling skills should play this game, because you are building something from the ground up. Moreover, you’re doing it often times on the fly. That can be a scary thought for a writer if you are used to hyper-planning or find you get stuck in writer’s block. The thing that is great about D&D is – the show must go on. There is no time for writer’s block. The game forces you to create. Embrace the “um, uh -” and go with your gut. Pretty soon you will find writing the first draft of anything – be it a novel, a play, a film, a game script will be one hundred times less daunting.

Just like you learn in an improvisation class, D&D also teaches you how to listen and practice “Yes and.” If you are not familiar with the “Yes and” concept, in improv 101 you learn how to accept others’ ideas and bounce of them, elaborate on them rather then cast them down to steal the show for yourself.

From personal experience, I can say the clarity I have in my communication with others has greatly increased since playing this game. I am more open, more willing, more ready than ever to tackle challenges that come my way. Although it is abstract, if you go about your day like a D&D campaign, like how you took down that Necromancer or that oafish Bugbear, dealing with life problems seem a little less frightening. If anything you know you have that one special day of the week where you can kick back and tackle demons. You have a place to vent.

For all you teachers and parents out there, Dungeons and Dragons is a great tool for teaching students. Studying up on lore, demons, rules, etc. is a great way to get kids to learn self-discipline and research. That may sound ridiculous, but when you are calling for a game one day a week (as per tradition for a D&D campaign) and kids have to be accountable for character back stories, leveling up their characters, keeping track of spells, and notes – all of that is great training in time management for school work (provided you tell them “treat your school work like you treat D&D”).

It does not stop with students, though. We should not stop learning as adults. We should challenge ourselves to think. Some of our jobs do not require utilizing the aforementioned skills, and we let exercising that part of the brain fall to the wayside. Maybe we aren’t as quick on the draw as we used to be because of that reason.

At the risk of my preaching D&D as pure pedagogy, on top of exercising your brain, D&D is just plain fun. You get to laugh, pretend, and tell stories with your friends. Did I mention the snacks? A D&D campaign should always be accompanied with tasty treats, and if you are playing on my home team – also beer! So go forth a play some Dungeons and Dragons. You will create deeper bonds with your fellow players than you realize, and it is so worth the journey. You may think it is too nerdy, too complicated, and too childish, but I demand a re-vote on those preconceived notions. It is not. And you are not too old to play it. All you need is some people, some dice, and some imagination.

 

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The Lessons of Livestreaming

We all have our hobbies. My new hobby is streaming. I am among a vast community of streamers who for their own individual reasons decided to capture themselves playing a game and broadcast it to the world.

Streaming is an interesting hobby. You meet people from different parts of the globe. I met someone from Finland who solved a Sudoku puzzle for me in a mystery game! When does that happen? The internet makes this seemingly vast planet seem oh so small. I think what makes streaming entirely worth its many hours on the computer is the connections you will make. You may never get to meet each other in person, yet you know each time you get on the computer, people will be there for you. No matter what happened at work, in your life, your fellow streamers and viewers will be there to greet you throughout the day.

For that reason alone streaming becomes a kind of addiction. I still consider myself new to the twitch community, but if livestreaming has taught me anything, it has taught me that we desperately crave connection. We don’t connect enough in our daily lives. It can be hard to find the right people in our immediate social circles. Once we open ourselves up to the world, though, we find the people that make us want to tell our stories, open our hearts, or just meet up for a laugh.

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I love connecting to the world. I feel richer, yes monetarily – I am so grateful to have subscribers and people who give me tips – but also richer in mind, richer in perspective. I love getting to know you all. If you haven’t felt enough love on my stream, let me tell you now that I appreciate you. More than I can express in a silly blog post.

Not only has livestreaming forged friendships, but it has also made me a better communicator, improved my focus, my ability to multi-task.  Livestreaming has lit a fire under my butt and fueled my creative spirit.

Though I will always have goals of making my stream more professional, more organized, connections will always be first, because that’s the stuff of quality.¬†Livestreaming teaches all of us the importance of reaching out, listening, supporting others, growing, and encouraging others to grow. For that alone, it is an irreplaceable experience.

So reach out both into cyberspace and your immediate social circles and make things happen. Open up, fall, grow, change. Repeat. Reach out your hand. You will eventually find the people who will take it, and go on a walk with you. It will be worth it. Just don’t give up.