Dungeons and Dragons and your Mental Health

When slaying Dragons, Saving Princesses and Revealing in taverns becomes GOOD for your mental health.

Dungeons and Dragons, the vastly popular tabletop based roleplaying game, is turning 50 after a tumultuous and controversial life. From being labelled as Satanic and corrupting, the imaginative game has survived witch hunt after witch hunt.
But, after a half century of controversy and survival, are people finally seeing the benefits of this incredibly imaginative and beneficial game?

This is how Tabletop Roleplaying Games can improve Mental Health.

Here are our top 4 reasons why you should pick up your imaginary sword and quest to kill that dragon.

1. Confidence Building

First and foremost, Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying game. This means each player must go away and design their own character. Of course there are fundamental rules to stick to but, at the end of the day, each player is only limited by their imagination! Want to create a brave warrior from a merciless tribe? Cool. Want to create a dastardly thief who’s unafraid to steal from the tyrannical king? Go ahead.

Once you character is build, then the real fun begins. As the characters are thrown into a fictional world of the DM’s (Dungeon Master) design, each player will have the opportunity to bring their character to life as they see fit!
This has been tried and tested within various organisations and has been proven to increase confidence levels. One case study in Seattle, USA, followed a young boy who suffered from severe social anxiety, but once they threw their aggressive and grumpy dwarf into the game there was no shutting him up according to the DM!

2. Imagination

Even though this was covered in the last point, we cannot stress enough how INCREDIBLE DND is for imagination. This is the game of endless possibilities where the aim is not to win but to live, and live however the player sees fit. Whether you want to lead an honest and moral life or a selfish and corrupt one, this is entirely down to you as a player. We like to describe the game as a “play-box to make real world”. This has been proven by several organisations who use the game as a way of relearning for individuals who are suffering from traumas.

But don’t take our word for it, just look up all the prominent and influential creatives who owe much of their career to the storytelling skills taught in DND. From director Jon Faverau to actor Vin Diesel, the number of modern creatives who have played DND is staggering.

Of course building the character is just the first part. Within the DMs designed game the players will encounter decisions, predicaments and scenarios where they will need to question their motives and think outside of the box to survive and achieve their goals.

3. Decisions, Rewards and Repercussions

Now, a decision wouldn’t be so hard to make if there weren’t consequences attached. Within the game, the DM will forward decisions which will really question a players morals, motives and decision making. As such, this makes DND a perfect tool for improving the skill of making decisions as well as weighing up pros and cons.

Do you save an entire city at the cost of one life? Do you steal from the wealthy autocrat who looks down on his subjects? If so, what is to gain? What is to lose?

Again coming back to that idea of a playbox to make mistakes, DND offers players the chance to really think about how decisions can affect people around them. For example, if you decided to save a town from an evil creature, they’ll be justly rewarded. If they instead decide to help the creature, there will be repercussions for them to deal with.

4. Individuality and Inclusivity

A double edged sword of DND is it cannot be played solo. First you need a DM to build the world around you but once there you need, at least, one other player to help you on your quest. This can be difficult if you have no one else around you or you like to play games solo but, once you find that group, the real fun begins!

DND is a game to be enjoyed with other people! To laugh and joke, to have serious storytelling DMCs (Deep Meaningful Chats) or to plan your next quest.
If you go into the game thinking “I am going to be the best blah blah blah in the fictional world” likelihood is you won’t be, there’s no I in team (Or Dungeons and Dragons). Each character will bring different skills to the table: Combat, Stealth, Charisma, Intelligence etc, one cannot be all of the above simutenously. So there is a need to work together as a team and include everyone. But this doesn’t you won’t get some individual time. When your stealth teammates are being arrested by the local guard you, the charismatic one, could try talking them out of trouble, or if all of your intelligent mates are losing in a battle to a werewolf you, the warrior, could jump in to rescue them.

Individual and inclusive, it’s finding that sweet midpoint.