Can D&D make a person confident and successful? [video]

Heath says,

The latest episode of PBS Digital Studios’ weekly Web series Idea Channel suggests that table top fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons, despite their repeated skewering throughout pop culture, can actually help make a person more confident and successful. Dungeons & Dragons players often have to endure a certain amount of stereotyping and even some mockery at the hands of non-players. However, despite the derisions of dismissive outsiders, these games offer players a chance to learn problem solving, visualization, interaction, organization, people management -- all skills attributed to larger-world success. Host Mike Rugnetta, an admitted player himself, explores how D&D and related games help people learn methods for collaboration that easily translate to other aspects of daily life.

Can D&D Make a Person Confident and Successful?


  1. I think the best thing D&D does is force you to deal with awkward social situation in and out of the game at an early age, and gives an incentive to resolving the “Player A thinks Player B is an asshole” or “Everyone hates playing with Player C because he breaks the fourth wall and shoots ranged into melee combat”. You can’t just ignore those issues when you’re six months into a campaign.

  2. And you even left out roleplaying unexpressed aspects of themselves in a consequence-free, yet still socially integrated environment… at any age that would have enormous psychological benefits for someone trying to find their way in the world.

    1. Back in the 70s, one of my classmates talked a couple of girls into going home with him to play D&D.  At some point in the game, he roleplayed a situation in which one of his NPCs raped one of the girls.  The way she told the story, he played it in slavering, panting detail.

      Even as teens, we learned something that day about “unexpressed aspects”. And yea, awkward social situations, too.

  3. D&D definitely helped me work in a team (I’ve worked in IT and as a programmer, so that’s huge) and it also happens to be great common ground with the other throngs of nerds in those careers. :) DMing helped immensely with my creative writing, which I have parlayed into a semi-lucrative online writing side-job.

  4. It’s always been bizarre to me that D&D, my favorite game, has been branded as a loner/weirdo hobby, when you literally cannot play it without a bunch of friends.

    In fact, it only became more mainstream when computer RPGs made it possible to play it alone in your mom’s basement…

  5. Talk about a roll of the ten-sided die . . .

    I was born in 1963. Everyone born between, say, ’61 and ’65 knows that we don’t belong to any generation. We’re not boomers, and we’re not Xers. I call us “Baby Busters,” because those years represent the lowest average birth rate in US history — the Greatest Generation had stopped having kids, and the Boomers had the Pill and could delay having children.

    So, anyway, somewhere along ’78-’79, I was alternating between two kinds of nerd: I was the kind of SFF geek who nearly got expelled after a slapfight over Christian themes in The Narnia Chronicles, but I was a serious Band Geek, spending every available free period and study hall in the Band Room listening to jazz LPs , organizing sessions, and practicing trumpet. And all this in the cornfields of Indiana — in pre-Internet days, it took  a while for new information to reach us.

    And then, two different realities conflicted for me for the first time: Dungeons and Dragons vs. Dizzy and Bird. I still remember when my SFF geek friends invited me to play D&D, but I’d already agreed to hang out with my band-geek friends listening to Diz & Bird & Miles & Coltrane, and mangling said tunes on our own.

    I made my choice, and I’m still basically comfortable with it. I don’t know how much fun it is to play D&D, but I know how much fun it is to play mid-century jazz and standards in a saloon, and it’s pretty freaking fun.

    If you’re a geek or a nerd, next time you find yourself in a nice venue with live jazz, and you hear someone under 60 using words like “hip” and “swing” unironically, realize that you’re just talking to another species of nerd. It’s all OK.

  6. Classic bit from one of the best X-Files episodes:
    Jose Chung: “Aren’t you nervous telling me all this after receiving all those death threats?”

    Blaine Faulkner: “Well, hey, I didn’t spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons and not learn a little something about courage.”

  7. I feel there should be an obligatory reference to Freaks and Geeks here, the one where some of the cool guy “freaks” are coerced (don’t remember the details) into playing D&D with the geeks. They’re wary at first but end up having a great time and revealing parts of their personalities that are completely concealed in the rest of their lives.

    I never played D&D and the like because I never had the kind of friends who would do that. All the friends I’ve ever had were geeks/nerds/losers but if any of them were playing D&D I didn’t know about it. I do think that if I had played D&D when I was younger instead of playing endless computer games I would be different today and more sociable; my difficulties being sociable now are of course making it difficult for me to, say, find a group of people to play these sorts of games with.

  8. I’ve used our Earthdawn campaign as a centerpiece of our homeschooling for twenty years now, give or take. Our player group started a ship of the Sea Scouts in Chicago, and learned to actually sail on Lake Michigan, because their characters had an airship. We’ve covered metallurgy, free market economics, compared multiple forms of government, and are currently dealing with Chinese history, culture, and pre-Western contact religion, all in the setting of a sword and sorcery world and amid great adventures.

    I used the Blue Planet game system to teach a group of 9 to 12 year old kids about ocean science, ecology, and how to do paperwork, the last a valuable skill if you want to hold down a white collar job.

    Beyond my own personal experience, psychologists have known for decades that roleplaying a situation, in a safe environment where your personal risk is lessened by the distancing effect of taking on a role, results in positive learning and skill transference. So yeah, some of us have known about this aspect of RPGs for a long time. It’s still good to get the word out regularly, and push back against the stereotypes and false images of gamers and gaming.

    And for what it’s worth, if you’re in western Virginia, we’ve got openings in our group.

  9. I played D&D extensively in my teens. I’m now a BBC journalist and run my own successful photography-themed website which is all about storytelling, one of my passionate interests which I think was nurtured by playing D&D. For that I shall be forever grateful. It didn’t help me get a girlfriend back then, mind.

  10. I played D&D extensively in my teens. I’m now a BBC journalist and run my own successful photography-themed website which is all about storytelling, one of my passionate interests which I think was nurtured by playing D&D. For that I shall be forever grateful. It didn’t help me get a girlfriend back then, mind.

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