I’m writing this booklet to show educators why tabletop role-playing games are a useful academic tool.
I have loved teaching and tabletop role-playing games for a long time. I firmly believe they are both magical. As I’ve learned and experienced more of teaching and role-playing, I’ve come to discover their synergies. The goal of a classroom is to gather minds and learn through experience. The goal of a tabletop role-playing games is to gather minds and learn through experience. At first glance, the types of learning associated between the two don't seem to synchronize. Classrooms are formal; games are informal. Classrooms are mandatory; games are recreational. Classrooms are for the future; games are for the now.
With proper understanding, however, you can see these dichotomies as a spectrum. You can see how to blend classroom and game into a uniform artifact of discovery and enjoyment. Furthermore, you can see how each benefits from the other, enriching the experience of either in the absence of its counterpart.
Some of you who are reading this may already be familiar with tabletop role-playing games, and therefore already have an inkling of the connection between them and education. For you, portions of this booklet may seem unnecessary. Hopefully, portions of it are still helpful in formalizing your intuitive connection and presenting possibilities for combining the two. For those of you who are not familiar with tabletop role-playing games, you may find it necessary to pause your reading and look up some information because the things I am saying sound like a foreign language.
Both of these are alright. This is not a summative guide of everything education and everything tabletop role-playing, but one future teacher’s understanding of how the two play into each other. It is neither perfect nor complete, nor is it meant to be. It is more of an access point for you to start experimenting with tabletop role-playing games in your classroom. Just like the story created around the table during a tabletop role-playing game, truly harnessing this book will come in the moment of play.
Regardless of where you start when reading this booklet, I hope by its end you see how teaching and tabletop role-playing work together because of their focus on people, imagination, and an unceasing desire to explore.
Youakim, Gannon, "Dungeon Classroom Guide: Using Tabletop Role-Playing Games in the Classroom" (2019). Honors Capstone Projects. 12.