Role-Playing Games and the Joy of Learning

I am pretty sure any of us who have been into role-playing games for more than a couple of years has come across more than one article espousing the benefits of RPGs. This past week, I was reminded of one of those benefits—a benefit I don’t see mentioned all that often. Sure, a lot of people talk about how gaming helps develop social skills, strategy, speaking, reading, math, etc. What I came across this past week was something different—learning. Learning what? Well, that depends.


In this particular case, it all relates back to the Stars Without Number review I wrote last week and the game I’m playing in weekly now. I continued reading further in the book after that mini-review and became quite interested in the setting’s spike drive technology. I had to read the section a few times. And, I initially thought I had run into a limit of understanding due to limitations of my own mental facilities. It turns out, what I needed to do was read a little bit slower, reason it out. I spoke with some other fans of the game and figured out that I was on the right track, understanding things pretty well.


However, it got my gears turning. I ended up reading a lot of articles and watching a number of documentaries and other videos on the subject of FTL travel, technology, and space in general. It was fun. It was enlightening. I used to be really interested in these things, but had grown busy over the years. I sort of lost interest. But, that interest was rekindled.


Why? What got me back into it? What increased my understanding of varying principles, theories, etc.? A game? You betchya!


I came to reflect upon this fact later on in the week and realized what had happened. Was that odd? I wondered. I thought back to the games I played over the years. I thought back to my earliest days in gaming with Dungeons & Dragons and Rolemaster, how I learned more about terminology and different concepts from the Renaissance and Dark Ages. These are things I might have learned in a specialized college course, but instead I taught myself by reading different books—books that were not RPG books.


So, that was what I spent a lot of my free time doing this week—learning more science to better understand a science fiction role-playing game. What about you? What interesting things have you gone out and taught yourself based on an RPG?

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