What are the Benefits of Role-Playing Games? [From a Player’s Perspective]

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Role-playing games, or RPGs, are enjoyed daily by millions of people around the world. Whether you are playing an RPG on a tabletop, console, or computer, there is something about these games that appeal to people of all ages.

Popularity aside, are RPGs simply a time-wasting amusement, or are there actual benefits to playing them?

The answer is yes, there are at least five benefits to delving into the epically legendary world of RPGs.

1. RPGs Teach Social Skills and Teamwork

There is often a stigma attached to people who play RPGs on a regular basis – they live in dank, dark basements and rarely socialize or see the light of day. While this description is likely true for some of the most avid gamers, it is false for the majority of RPG gamers.

RPGs encourage players to expand their sphere of contacts, create new friendships, and be an active participant in groups of other like-minded gamers. RPGs do this by creating scenarios in which groups of players, sometimes upwards of one hundred, are required to work together to accomplish a goal.

These goals can include anything from slaying a dragon to sneaking your way into a fortified tower full of valuable loot. In most cases, these teams are challenged to work together in order to come up with a complex plan of action to defeat real challenges.

Person playing console game

2. RPGs Tech Empathy and Diversity

RPGs often, though not always, take place in diverse fictional worlds that can be staggeringly massive in the history of their lore and the size and scope of their lands and characters. One thing you will almost always find in RPGs is cultural diversity.

Whether you play as an Elf, Goblin, Orc, or even a lowly human, one thing is for sure – you are going to run into, or play as, a lot of diverse characters with their own strengths, weaknesses, and individual challenges. RPGs show us that not everyone starts out with the same advantages and disadvantages, and can teach us a lot about how each of us faces different challenges.

3. RPGs Teach You to Save Money

Speaking as an avid RPG player myself, one of the best feelings for me comes when I have finally saved up enough money to purchase an ‘in’ game item that I really want. Be it new equipment to make my character more powerful or simply giving in to the vanity involved in making my characters look the best they can with an awesome mount.

In most cases, it takes some real financial discipline to afford to play. People who have been playing RPGs since their inception will tell you that, despite the challenging play and epic boss battles, affording what you want and need is often the hardest part of the game. You learn very quickly that the more you impulse buy, the harder it is going to be to get those high-end items you really want, and you will kick yourself for being more responsible with your in-game money.

4. RPGs Teach Work Ethic

Okay, so maybe you took point 3 to heart and were the most frugal elf the realms have ever seen. You probably have some really great stuff, and your character looks amazing. However, the best things in most games also require hard work. This work is known in the RPG world as “grinding”.

In order to obtain the best items possible, you often have to put in a lot of time and effort. It can be as innocuous as killing the same monsters over and over again in order to gain reputation with a certain faction, or traveling the world at large in order to find the rare items required to craft that helmet you so sorely need – no, that you deserve!

RPGs are quick to teach us that the very best things require hard work and dedication to accomplish.

People playing computer games

5. RPGs Help You Make New and Lasting Friends

RPGs are easily my favorite type of game. I play them on tabletop, console, and computer. I honestly cannot get enough of them. There is certainly something to be said about being able to retreat from your everyday life and into the skin of a character of your choosing and creation. Someone who does incredible things and has incredible adventures that are simply not possible for most of us. You make new friends and strengthen bonds with old ones.

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I have several friends I have never met, but have talked with online regularly for many years as we scratch our RPG itch. The game play is enjoyable, the quests and stories are incredible, but my favorite aspect of RPGs has to be the many long and enduring friendships I have created over the years.

There is something supremely enjoyable about hearing about new events in a friend’s life while wading through an army of goblins. Or finding out your good friend is going to have a baby, while kicking back in a virtual tavern enjoying a frosty mug of virtual ale.

No matter your background or age, I would highly recommend that you at least try RPGs, especially as you now know 5 things about them you may not have before!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Aren’t RPGs bad for people?

I know what you are thinking, “Wait a second, I thought RPGs were bad, and they suck people into a black hole of fantasy that they cannot escape from.” While this may be true in certain extreme cases where students have dropped out of school in order to play certain RPGs, or some players forgo sleep in order to play more, I can assure you that these are only the most extreme of cases.

Like anything that people find enjoyable, some people will take it further than others. While this can be a concern for your children it is easy to balance game time with other activities such as sports and music, and, in some cases, RPG time can often be used as an incentive. I have been known to use RPG time as an incentive to get my son to eat his vegetables.

Are RPGs expensive?

While it is true that RPGs can be costly, it is really up to the individual what they want to spend. Tabletop games can be among the most expensive – more so than subscription games, or single pay games. However, you can also find many fine RPGs that are absolutely free to play.

Mark Coster, BSc(Hons) PhD MRACI CChem
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