Four purple dice with swords, chests, skulls, and numbers on game character card

Role-Playing Games Can Make You a Better Student

Role-playing games aren't just for preteens in their parents' basements. Check out the real-life way role-playing games like D&D can help you build life skills.

There are currently roughly 13.7 million active Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) players across the globe—a statistic that highlights the everlasting popularity of role-playing games. These types of activities have been popular since ancient times, when people would wear masks of Gods and heroes to role-play their deeds. But truly it was D&D that sparked the modern interest in more intricate, culturally complex role-playing games. You don’t have to be a hardcore lover of fantasy and science fiction to take part in role-playing. Regardless of your interests in high school or your major/specialty in college, playing games like D&D can enhance many qualities and skills that can serve you well, as highlighted in the following studies.

Learning a different language

D&D certainly isn’t the only role-playing game chosen by teachers across the globe to sharpen students’ knowledge in a specific subject. One experiment by researchers at Wake Forest University focused on a Latin class. The professor assigned students roles from Graeco-Roman mythology in an effort to bring the “dead language” to life. Students were given various challenges to complete within the role-play, including translating projects, creating visual representations of grammatical constructions, and producing creative projects. The study reported a growth in their abilities and stated that the students felt learning was more fun and motivating than standard Latin language learning. “The best way to learn a language is by immersing yourself in it, and it's even more fun in a world not quite our own—in time, place, or nature,” said the class instructor.

Related: Learning a Foreign Language: Top Tips for Students

Developing new skills 

Role-playing games can be a valuable hobby because they enable students to acquire skills that help in other aspects of their studies and future professional lives. Just a few skills learned by serious role players include conflict resolution, reading comprehension, and math. D&D, for instance, requires you to use math often to calculate aspects such as experience and hit points, weapon damage, and more. If you’re majoring or planning to major in Math in college, you’ll enjoy calculating percentages and solving arithmetic problems in these games.

Changing attitudes

Starting college forces students to take on new roles they may not be accustomed to. Role-playing games can help you enhance your flexibility and be more accepting and understanding of others, which can make this big life change a little easier. A health-based role-playing game study by researchers at Dartmouth College showed that people who played role-playing games can become more accepting and understanding toward public health issues. “We showed how active engagement with the game's characters and events was crucial to the game's ability to shift players' mindsets and attitudes,” said one scientist, highlighting the empathetic perspective that role games can inspire.

Related: 4 Ways You Bring Culture and Diversity to Your College

Role-playing games are traditionally seen as a form of entertainment, but they actually offer many benefits and lifelong lessons for students. Taking on the role of a character can make learning more fun and motivational by placing what you’re learning into a practical (even if fictitious) context. Specific games require you to practice various skills such as language, mathematics, and conflict resolution. Role-playing will put you in someone else’s shoes so you can boost qualities like acceptance, flexibility, and other traits that are important to a bright future.

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