Tuesday, March 29, 2016

BENEFITS OF ROLE-PLAYING GAMES FOR CHILDREN

by Amy Mia Goldsmith (Guest Blogger)


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When my daughter first asked me to take her to a friend’s birthday party structured around role-play games, I was very suspicious. Personally, I used to believe that such games have little practical value and serve merely as an escape from reality, not as skill-building playtime. But as I watched her play with other kids at the birthday party, I realized that there are quite a few gains to role playing. If your kids are crazy about Dungeons & Dragons, Legends of Might and Magic, or Game of Thrones, you may want to let them live out their fantasy – and here is why. 


1. Playing Cultivates Creativity


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Role-playing games revolve around creativity : there are some rules which ought to be followed, but role playing does entail a degree of personal freedom and improvisation. In essence, the aim of the game is to create a story, and storytelling encourages imagination like no other pastime activity out there. During the game, participants cast off their everyday personality and assume a character of a hero or villain, attempting to make the persona as charismatic as possible, which requires active mental work, lots of creativity, and basic acting skills. 


2. Playing Levels Up Your Social Skills


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Social interaction during a role-playing game is to a degree governed by game rules, but players are allowed to experiment and add a personal touch to the character they are impersonating. Through role play, shy children can overcome their fear of contact and improve communication skills, which is a healthier alternative to video or PC games where the players are separated by screens. By engaging in a role playing session, your little one can make friends based on their interests more easily. In addition to that, the assumed persona allows the child to feel more at ease stepping outside their comfort zone because their personal insecurities and sensitive spots are concealed behind a mask. 


3. Playing Encourages Teamwork and Cooperation


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Teamwork and cooperation are valuable lessons that will get your child far in adulthood, and role playing is a great tool for laying down the foundations of these qualities at an early age. Though winning or losing still matters in role play, achieving victory is possible only through collaboration and joint effort, and unless every group member puts their role-determined skills to good use, the whole team will suffer. For this reason, teams must function as a seamless whole and come up with ways to earn points without violating the rules – and that is a priceless skill for a child to develop for their later life. 


4. Playing Teaches Problem Solving Skills


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Problem solving is another aspect of role playing that has practical value in the real world. While cheating is not allowed, creative thinking and innovative approach to problems are encouraged by the game master, and team collaboration on a problem is necessary for success. For this reason, role playing teaches kids to keep an open mind, examine the situation from multiple aspects, improvise, and think critically without sacrificing imagination or fun. My kids’ favorite role-playing game is Poptropica, a virtual world which focuses on games, travel, and problem solving, and it has helped my daughter considerably improve her logical thinking


5. Playing Is Fun


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Role playing is fun, too: it allows the players to turn their back to everyday concerns and step into a magical world where everything is possible. That is probably why both children and adults love these games: there is no embarrassment, no stress, and no long-term consequences, only a challenge and an adventure to be had. The world of role playing is a realm of dreams, where our kids can be whomever they want to be, and the thrills and surprises are a given. 

Role-playing games are not just masquerades for game-crazed geeks and no-lifers: more than a nerdy play-pretend, role play can teach our kids a few lessons about communication, creativity, cooperation, and importance of teamwork. Kids love role playing: it is fun, creative, challenging, and it allows them to put on a persona and practise acting skills – and most importantly, it allows every mother to turn her gaze from her energetic offspring and tend to their own needs. 



About the author


Amy Mia Goldsmith is an Aussie expat living in the UK and a newbie parenting blogger. Check out her blog Young Mom Of Two.

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