What are some of the mental health benefits of role-playing games?
RPGs can provide a painless way for people to polish their social skills and practice the vital life skills of creativity, empathy, patience, determination and resilience. The social connections and widened interests that regular RPG participants are likely to develop can reduce loneliness and the feeling of meaninglessness. Because problems and conflicts in a game don't have high real-life stakes, players can practice problem-solving and increase their tolerance of anxieties and frustration without the distress and acute concerns they might experience in similar out-of-game situations. Players can also use games cathartically, trying out roles and problem-solving styles they know better than to use when their own real-world future is on the line.
There is even research correlating regular RPG participation to lower levels of violence, criminality, and recidivism. Because RPGs require players to imagine being a different person in different circumstances with different priorities, as well as to try to understand the motivations of others, empathy in particular is constantly exercised. In addition, some game systems have built-in moral compasses which can help players quickly understand the link between a behavior and its consequence, and this understanding can extend to daily life. When a given system lacks this feature, an experienced GM can still provide players with that behavioral guidance.
Our programs use RPGs to provide direct mental health and quality of life benefits to populations with needs and problems involving
- Accessibility / adaptivity
- Autism spectrum, including ASD, PDD, Aspergers, etc.
- At-risk youth and adults
- Brain injuries, including strokes and TBI
- Cerebral Palsy (CP)
- Hearing and deafness
- Developmental delays (DD)
- Developmental impairments (DI)
- Gifted & Talented
- In-patient status of youth and adults
- Transitions from In-patient to out-patient rehabilitation programs
- Learning disabilities
- Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
- Phobias, including social phobias and agoraphobia
- Trauma & PTSD
- Vision and blindness
See the RPG Research Knowledgebase 4.0 for more information.