I have a list that is rapidly growing of things to post here, but for some reason this is on my mind just now, so…
When I was growing up, roleplaying was that weird thing you did afterschool that no one was entirely sure wasn’t some form of devil-worship.Â The stigma seems to have abated some as the years have passed — thank heavens — and I’ve been glad to see more parents allowing or encouraging their children to take up rping.Â It’s a good compromise between the old pasttime of books and the modern advent of video games… all the adventure, not so solitary, a bit of risk, and no vegging out in front of the tele.Â Yes, good solution.
One thing I’d really like to encourage GM’s to look at is the extraordinary possibilities of using roleplaying as an educational tool.Â I’ve done this a number of times with some youth groups in various areas where I’ve lived, and always with astounding results.
Roleplaying is a wonderful vehicle for relaying vital facts and information in way that is anything but boring.Â I’ve created roleplaying sessions (using White Wolf’s easy-peasy char-gen modified to hell and back for flexibility’s sake) designed to throw teenagers back into mythological Ireland, bringing them face to face withÂ all theÂ wyrds and wilds of a superstitious world.Â All the info I gave them was accurate.Â Names of haunts and heroes, and we used a map of Ireland for navigation purposes.Â I got compliments from a couple of parents because the kids picked up Irish mythology books at their next round at the library to prepare for the upcoming gaming sessions.Â If they could reference me a truth about the time period or a figure from history when something was encountered, I gave them marks for experience.Â I had some rather avid little readers on my hands.
I’ve also used rping as a way to help teens prepare for tests on eras in history.Â History, unless you just love history, can be a bone-gnawing, sleep-inducing subject.Â But if you take that same history, get youth involved in making characters from that time period, it can change their interest level drastically.Â When they have to answer questions such as “Where did my character live?”, “What did they wear?”, “How big was my family?”, “What did my dad do?”, and so forth, they’re learning a multi-level approach to history which ensures comprehension.Â Roleplaying requires investigation of social, economic, political, artistic, and religious movements.Â Anytime you get more than one facet on the jewel of a period in history, you have a better grip on its worth.Â You can take rote facts and drop them into “newspaper clippings”.Â You can have war casualty figures delivered via courier.Â There are endless ways to make history come alive for kids through roleplaying.
I haven’t even touched on the possibilities of using roleplaying situations to help youth confront issues of loyalty, peer pressure, death, jealousy, and more advanced human ethics in a controlled situation.Â But it’s all there.Â I would really like to see more teens roleplaying.Â And more GM’s willing to cater to that age level.Â Roleplaying may be immense fun, but it’s also an arena where learning, even for us adults, never ends.
While I have never had the opportunity to use roleplaying in teaching, I am aware that gaming has opened the door of history for a lot of topics (currently I’m studying the very late 19th Century (and who would do that for chuckles otherwise). It’s benefits are also literary in that I’ve been spurred into reading a lot more entirely because of my gaming habit.
Sure, I may not be able to name any of the players of ManU or Arsenal and I certainly could not recite the offside rule in soccer but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Sign me up for Roleplaying 101.