Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dungeons & Dragons Has Influenced A Generation of Writers & How It Helps Kids Today

Artwork courtesy of James Howe.
From a recent New York Times article:
For a new generation of writers, especially those raised in the 1970s and ’80s, all that time spent in basements has paid off. Dungeons and Dragons helped jump-start their creative lives. 
When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.
When you think about it, it's not really too surprising. Speaking personally, while D&D offered an escape from an abusive home life, coming up with character back-stories that fit within an adventuring party was my first taste of collaborative storytelling. There are a lot of skills you can learning playing D&D-  collaborative problem solving, team building, working in groups, spatial awareness, multiplication, plus all of the creative things involved with running or taking part in a campaign, like character and world building.

And the current generation of D&D players are finding ways to use D&D to not just instill a love of the game in kids, but also teach children development skills. One author has even come up with a version for pre-preschoolers!

Laura Petelle has released a free game called Monster Dice Fight, a proto-D&D game for preschoolers that also teaches Early Learning Standards skills. As she describes it:
My husband was eager for our sons to get big enough to play D&D with him, and I suggested they were big enough now -- if we adjusted the game. I had recently been in early learning standard presentations, so that was on my mind as well... Parents can adjust the game in a variety of ways to help their children with specific developmental tasks, and can at the same time create appropriate challenges within the game for children of different ages.
If the kids are a little older and you want to introduce them to D&D, collaborative storytelling and some of the game mechanics, artist Jason Howe has you covered with "D&D For 8 Year Olds". As he explains it:
For my son's 8th birthday party he convinced me to run Dungeons and Dragons for four 2nd graders... I decided to take actual characters made in the DND Insider and simplify them us that the boys could have fun without much of a learning curve. Here are the six characters I made from scratch for the game. I am happy to report it was a huge success, each boy had a fantastic time... and so did I. I would happily do it again.
Howe didn't leave girls out, either, and created a number of boy and girl character sheets in full color, all ready to print out and personalize, which you can check out here.

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