A study performed by Foundry 10, an education research organization, found that teens can improve their SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) Skills, by playing cooperative Tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. During the pandemic, Game to Grow partnered with Foundry10 to evaluate the learning which occurred during TTRPGs games for the teenagers. They found “TTRPGs provided youth with valuable opportunities to practice and develop SEL skills like regulation, collaboration, planning, perspective taking, and pretend play, and that facilitators played a key role in this learning. ” (Foundry 10)
The study found 4 key takeaways from this study.
1) Facilitators play a critical role: Facilitators set the tone and provide explanations, guidance, and scaffolding that are critical for youths’ skill development and TTRPG experience.
2) Interpersonal conflict can be productive for youth SEL skill development: Though it can seem scary or counterproductive, interpersonal conflict in TTRPGs can actually provide a valuable opportunity for youth to practice their SEL skills.
3) With the right supports, youth can engage in complex reflection: With scaffolding, youth demonstrate a great deal of introspection and reflection on their teamwork and individual strengths and weaknesses.
4) TTRPGs provide a sandbox in which youth can learn and make mistakes: TTRPGs provide a safe and controlled environment for
youth to practice key SEL skills, allowing them to make mistakes without serious repercussions. (Foundry 10)
Growing up back in the 80s, my friends and I would often play various Tabletop role-playing games. We took turns game mastering different games. This was a great experience for me and my other geeky/nerdy friends to not only play but to develop a lot great skills. I would say it did grow our Social and Emotional learning. We didn’t always resolve conflict in the correct manner, in fact I remember a few times there were physical scuffles. But we learned a lot.
If you want to check out the research from the Foundry 1o project, here is a link to the research paper, “How Youth Can Build Social and Emotional Skills with Tabletop Role-Playing Games“.