Tabletop gaming is definitely fun, especially if you find the types of games you really like. Whether it be RPGs, card games or board games, there is something out there for just about everyone. Games are also great for teaching skills, and maintaining those skills throughout a person’s life. It’s a great way to teach children early, and in a fun way, skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.
Creativity and Imagination
You’d be surprised how much being able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems will help you as an adult. Creativity is not just a great skill for artists, writers, and designers, but anyone who has a job where problem solving is key will benefit from this. Being able to come up with unorthodox solutions can often be the difference between just having a job and excelling at a career.
It’s a given that creativity and imagination are necessary for artists, writers, and any other job where someone has to create something from out of their mind’s eye. Gaming, especially the imagination intensive tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons, are a great place to get kids started learning how to tell stories and develop characters with interesting backgrounds and personalities. Whether it’s creating their own stories as a game master, or acting out the stories of their characters as a player, they’ll get plenty of practice coming up with great tales all on their own.
Art and graphics are another source of inspiration for young people when it comes to tabletop. There’s few entertainment mediums that have such a plethora of amazing art and graphics design as tabletop games. Painted, or unpainted miniatures, character sketches, book covers, and playing cards are all great sources of art inspiration. People literally have an art gallery at their finger-tips whenever they pick up a game, and that can translate to a study and love of art that benefits a lot of creative folks in future years.
Just the Basics
Math and reading, two skills that will serve anyone throughout their lives, are key to almost every game that you’ll come across. Whether it’s calculating damage and points, or reading rule books to learn a game, tabletop will expand any young person’s skills with both of these. Often with tabletop games, especially RPGs, people will come across words they’ve never seen, and terminology they won’t come across in school or on their favorite cartoons. They’ll be exposed to complex ideas and references that may lead them to expand their study into things like history and sociology.
There’s no mistaking the need for even basic math when it comes to gaming. Even the simplest game mechanic, like keeping score, will often involve addition and subtraction, and while kids are having fun playing a game they won’t even bat an eye that they have to tap into mathematics. More complicated wargames and RPGs can get into time, distance, area, angles, and the dreaded thac0 formula of Advanced D&D.
Besides math, reading and vocabulary are two basic needs for gaming, and skills that will be vastly improved if this is your hobby. Even down to the simplest card game, reading is necessary. Rules, card descriptions, character backgrounds, and stories are all part of gaming. Even board games have rules and often cards of some sort. Starting with gaming early is a great way to make reading and learning new words fun. Get kids involved and you’ll see a marked improvement, as much as you see when you read to, or read with children. Even in later years gaming helps improve and strengthen vocabulary skills. I still run into words I don’t often see, and new words I’ve never seen used before.
Probably the biggest benefit of tabletop for me has been learning to socialize and break out of my shell. Often us geeks and nerds, as proud as we are of the things we love, are introverts and quiet individuals. Young people need socialization, but we tend to think this means sports, playing outside with other kids, or play dates with coworker’s kids. Not every child is into these things. Sometimes gaming is what they’re into, and just don’t know it yet. Learning games with family, or visiting local game shops to learn to play board games might be just what’s needed to crack that shell.
Learning to interact with others in a competitive environment, sportsmanship, losing and winning gracefully isn’t limited to actual sports. These are important skills to have under our belt when we get out into the real world as well. Getting and keeping a job, or working in the art fields are competitive. They don’t have to be negatively so, and teaching kids to compete fairly but also gracefully can mean the difference between success and failure. Cheating to win can be just as self-destructive as failing and throwing a fit. With gaming we can find a balance between teaching kids to win and lose, and teach them that having fun is just as important.
Besides the competitive factor, you usually have a group around any game. Unlike video games, tabletop games are very rarely single-player. It gets people around tables, talking, laughing, having fun, and most importantly just socializing. Sometimes finding a way to make a person’s comfort zone also a social affair can bring the extrovert out of the introvert by giving them an environment where they feel at ease.
In the end, gaming may not be for everyone, but I think it’s something a lot of people would enjoy. I think it’s a great way to help kids develop skills useful in the real world, not just to have fun. It’s also a fantastic way for adults to hone skills useful in their careers, whether they be in the artistic fields or more run of the mill. So, get out there, find your niche, and if your kids take an interest in the imaginative hobbies join in the fun. It makes for some great family time.
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