Updated: Sep 14, 2020
So, you're too shy to play D&D and you are not even sure what you would get out of it? Well lets talk about this. I've gotten to a point where I am running and tailoring games for younger people on a regular basis. Fortunately I've done this before. Oddly a lot of it was in China teaching ESL/TEFL classes and using role playing games (not always specifically D&D) to do so. I had a lot of success with it.
Most young people love role-playing off the bat. The do it intuitively and it makes perfect sense to them. Further, it is usually a massively empowering experience for them to realize you can create, control and inhabit worlds of your own. That you can tell your own stories. That you can exist in two places at once and sometimes, people need that. Adults who give themselves permission to immerse themselves in role-playing soon begin to see the application it has to broaden their creativity, drawing a new level of meaning from their inner lives.
Nonsense you say?
The subconscious doesn't care.
You'd be amazed how much nonsense you deal with already on a daily basis. Have you seen the latest Star Wars movies? Harry Potter? John Wick? Spiderman?
Anyone read comics or watch anime? Do you play with your kids? Do you build sandcastles? Do you pull faces and do silly voices with your immediate family? (If you don't then I am sad for you). So you can stop pretending you are too good for fantasy. Now it's just a matter of admitting your afraid of looking like a nerd, a geek or an idiot. Now you just have to get past the stigma, open up and embrace your inner need for fantasy. There is a reason this genre is so popular and its not just pure escapism (although it does that too). It taps into the collective subconscious and opens a valve on the hydraulic pressure of the repressed Id. Using stories role-playing dredges though your deepest, most buried childhood hopes, dreams and fantasies and reminds you that you are not just another slave. Because despite what the realm of hard-reality tells you, there is still magic and it exists inside your inner world. And it makes life worth living. It used to be, when I was growing up in the 80's, that D&D and role-playing were the devils work and some parents would get very upset at the idea of it. It was the same argument later leveled at the rise of video games and based on the same concerns the previous generation had had about Television. It turned out that the 'Satanic Panic' scare was a load of media hogwash which brought a lot of attention to a few journalists and evangelists and ultimately backfired when actual academics began looking into the subject. Apparently, D&D was not the cause of antisocial, destructive behavior (let alone actual possession and madness). So this brings us to the question, is D&D really bad for your kids? I pose you this question instead. Is World of Warcraft bad for children? It's the biggest online RPG gaming community out there. WoW is a high fantasy game featuring wizards, elves, dragons and orcs and a myriad of other fantasy tropes which it shares with D&D many, many other games, stories, movies and books. Well that's an argument for another day. The simple answer is, like with anything -- moderation. And the same is true for D&D. Except I can say this: Role-playing games require and teach social skills, language skills, math skills, leadership skills and a variety of other additional competencies. It raises ethical, philosophical and existential questions and ultimately primes one for critical thinking. It even turns out some of the most talented and influential people of today were products of the rise of D&D in the 1970s and 80s. D&D and other role-playing games wire your brain for innovative, out of the box thinking that will stand you in good stead -- your whole life. So if you find the terms 'D&D' or 'role-playing' come with too much baggage, why don't you call it something else. Call it what it really is: Consensus Narrative Engineering. Feel better now? Now get on with it. It will change your life.