My first immersive experience into a creative endeavor was with the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game. It pretty much set the course of my creativity for the rest of my life.
There was a book quite a while back titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I’ve always given a different take on that. Everything I know, I learned playing Dungeons & Dragons.
We can talk about how D&D fosters social skills like; talking things out around a table, learning to work together, coming up with solutions and generally fostering a sense of team work. This is what all the sociologists point to and they have a bunch of technical terms that are applicable here that I’m too lazy to look up. While I’m sure there were positive effects of social engineering on me, intellectually, they were the least influential on me.
We can talk about how D&D encourages reading. It certainly does. While it is technically possible to play the game as a player character without having to read anything, this would require quite a bit of hand holding by your dungeon master and probably put a damper on some aspects of the entertainment value for them, and the other players. This would be an extreme case. Most people want to know about their character and will read what is needed to get the full experience. Many do not stop there. They go on to continually read more and more in the near endless cycle of entertaining material that is available.
Social skills and reading are the obvious examples of what can be learned from the game. Being a dungeon master though, teaches one a lot more. You have to know how to write, how to make things up, how to organize a group, how to research, how to interpret the rules, how to interpret what the people are trying to do, how to improvise on the fly, how to anticipate upcoming probabilities, etc, etc, etc. Most of all, you have to learn how to make all this work you put into it a fun experience, not just for the players, but for yourself as well.
I learned a lot about history. Dungeons & Dragons put out a lot of content detailing societies based upon cultures in our own history. Yes, there were some systemic problems with the way some of these cultures were portrayed in a simplified stereotypical fashion. But these supplements only served to spark my interest in history and learn more for myself about other cultures in different time periods. Thus, a love of research and learning was born.
I learned a lot about math and statistics. What!!?? That’s right. D&D uses a lot of math. The game deals in probabilities. In the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons edition of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Gary Gygax actually created tables and charts that detailed bell distribution curves, linear probabilities, and incremental probabilities for dice rolling. This was way too much information for a game, but it was in there. He created random tables for secondary skills, age categories, chance of parasitic infestation, successful spying chances, and wall climbing speed. This was all in the first 20 pages! Gygax was truly a genius and probably a mad wizard too. The point is, everything a player could possibly think of was included as part of a probability dice roll, and it was all stuff that would correlate with things in real life. Was any of it accurate? Probably not. Was it an unintentional learning tool for me and many others when growing up? Yes.
Did it fuel my creativity? Absolutely!

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Author: Jarrod

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