On the face of it, sitting around with friends rolling dice is a fun way to pass some time. When you think about it, though, the benefits of gaming run much deeper…
As part of plotting my boys’ initiation into gaming, I was pondering the other day exactly why I game and what gaming has done for me over the last thirty years.
When you think about it, the benefits of gaming go way beyond mere fun. Obviously, I love this hobby–or I wouldn’t still be doing it–but the more I think about it the more I realise it has hidden benefits I must pass onto my boys.
For me, the benefits of gaming fall into four main categories:
- Maths and Reading: I started gaming when I was ten years old. After school, I used to rush home to do more reading and maths. Of course, I didn’t realise it at the time–I just wanted to whack orcs/whatever stood between me and the treasure–but gaming gave me a real boost in (probably) the two most essential life skills. I think it’s fair to say, a large part of my life-long love of reading comes from gaming. Later on, when I started writing my own adventures and supplements, gaming gave me the impetuous to learn how to write properly.
- Teamwork: Gaming taught me the benefits of teamwork. After all, if you go into the dungeon on your own you are going to die (horribly). Gaming is a cooperative experience. If the party works together, they’ll likely triumph over their enemies. If they don’t, disaster likely looms. The ethos of teamwork and the ability to compromise are incredibly important life skills.
- Good Friends: This is a huge one for me. With only two notable exceptions, all the long-term friends I have made have all been through gaming. I’m very lucky in that my main group has had an extremely stable roster of players. Of the seven of us, I’ve gamed with three of them for the best part of 20 years. Of the others, I’ve gamed with one for over a decade and the others for less time – but in two cases probably around five years or so. Looking at my wider group of friends, I’ve chums scattered all over the UK and the world I met through gaming.
- A Great Job: As you may know, I own Raging Swan Press and publish Pathfinder compatible, 5e compatible and System Neutral. We’ve been going for almost ten years now. I get to sit at home and game when most of my friends have to go to “proper work”! How cool is that? While I’ll likely never earn enough to buy a desert island, I have immense job satisfaction and a great quality of life. (Even better than that, I often write or commission projects that I’ll be using in my own campaigns (such as Adventures in Shadow) making my campaign prep considerably easier!)
Help Fellow Gamers!
Do you game for another reason? Have you found it has some benefit not mentioned here? Let us know what it is in the comments below and help other gamers get the most out of their games!
(I originally posted this article on 23 May 2014; since then I have made several minor additions and corrections).