Dungeons & Dragons: fun for the whole family

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While there is much controversy surrounding the game inspired by Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, when played well it can be helpful to the proper development of children. Photo by Sydney Standa,

Finals week is nearly here, and many students may find themselves thinking about things completely unrelated to finals week as levels of procrastination begin to skyrocket.

I found myself in a similar state of focusing on non-school related things several days ago, when I realized that Dungeons & Dragons is the perfect choice for the family game nights I plan on having several years from now.

I then took my procrastination a step forward by deciding to write an article about my thoughts so that I could share them with all of you.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game that requires little more than some dice, a few willing participants, and a great deal of creativity and imagination.

If you have ever met or ever were a young human person, or child, you are aware that much of the fun, excitement, growth and development of that age comes from creativity and imagination. This may be exhibited through pretending to be a princess, a tiger, a famous athlete or even, for college-aged children, successful adults.

A parent’s job is not to hinder this creativity, but to encourage it and allow it to flourish as much as possible, letting their child explore the depths of their imagination.

In the world of D&D, a player can build and play characters as wild and diverse as their imagination allows. They can even be a successful athletic princess with the ability to turn into a tiger.

Another benefit of playing D&D with your offspring is that you can help them apply their creativity to areas such as problem solving and critical thinking.

Instead of your little princess only being able to run around your house turning the pets into frogs and the frogs into princes, she can now put her imagination toward the best way to convince a cyclops that eating humans is bad for your health, deciding how to sneak into a goblin camp to rescue Pate the stable boy, or figuring out which neighboring countries would make the best trading partners. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.

Your genetic half-clone is no longer limited to the confines of your house, but has free rein in a landscape that only grows with each new adventure. And along the way, she is not only taught that every action has consequences, but also how to deal with those consequences when they come her way.

The world of D&D, while not exactly representative of the real world, can nonetheless provide lessons to your young legal dependent that are applicable to situations she may face in real life. The dragon that wasn’t attacking a village, but merely looking for a good dentist to help with his toothache could be a reminder to make sure she knows both sides of a story before jumping to conclusions. The incident with the hook-handed pirate trying to dig up his treasure might teach her that it’s okay to ask for help.

Therapists have also started to use D&D as a way to get kids to open up, improve their interactions with others, and more.

Obviously, there’s more to raising morally conscious economic consumers than playing Dungeons & Dragons, but the ability to test run the lessons you are trying to instill in them in a made-up environment has inherent value and is better than waiting for them to put them into practice for the first time on the playground.

Ultimately, however, the main value of D&D is the building of community and the fostering of friendship while having plenty of laughs and memories along the way.

Would you rather have the family gather around week after week to compete, argue and fight against each other in Monopoly, Mario Kart and high stakes poker with an inevitable conclusion of hurt feelings and accusations of cheating? Or would you prefer that your household work together for a few hours a week to accomplish a singular goal? Learning to play to each other’s strengths and abilities instead of preying on their weaknesses? Being supportive, caring, and creative or treating each other in ways that can be described with more negative examples?

I myself began playing Dungeons & Dragons freshman year of college, and my only regret is that I didn’t have the chance to play it sooner. Not only did it help me to meet my future wife, but it also gave me a wonderful place to channel my creative energies, a wide range of fun stories to share with others, and the chance to make friends and meet new people. You should give it a try.

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