What are your thoughts concerning tabletop role-playing games?
Some in the church took issue with Dungeons & Dragons about 40 years ago. (Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the issue addressed in a sermon.) Games like D&D have had a resurgence and are now more popular than ever.
If you’re interested in the arguments made against these games here is a small booklet that was published in 1987: A Christian Response to Dungeons & Dragons, authored by Peter Leithart and George Grant
- If you are against dice and cards like some I have met from the Old-Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands, well, that’s not exactly where I’m aiming to take this discussion.
As someone who’s spent a decade reading and playing these games I’d like to offer a few of my thoughts.
There are many games that do not take place within the Sword and Sorcery genre that Dungeons & Dragons take place in. It is this genre that is being attacked in critical articles. And for good reason. High Fantasy games carry with them pantheons of gods and demons as well as page after page of spells. To be fair, these spells are closer to limited use super powers. There is little regard to rituals, chants, or components.
Honestly, on the rare occasion that I get to play with adults I’ll play whatever genre.
However, the rest of my comments regard playing these games with children.
- I don’t allow sorcery in the games I run. Children do not need their curiosity sparked in that direction.
It is wonderful to be able to play with your children in an imaginary world. Children do this all the time, but as adults we need a little bit more structure to appreciate/tolerate the games they already enjoy. (Dice work very well for settling arguments in these shared stories.)
I’ve played games lasting two to three hours in one sitting with a 4, 5, 7, & 8 year old. They are still able to retell the stories of our adventures together. Adventures from the comfort of our dining-room table!
As the adult, I run the games. This means I am the main story-teller and referee, so I get to choose the genre and difficulties the players face. I’m not at the mercy of an author of a book or the director of a movie for this form of entertainment.
It does take some work to have an outline of a adventure beforehand but I think the payoff is easily worth it. From an educational aspect these games are beneficial. I find myself explaining many situations that children are not familiar with. There is normally some explanation of technology (historic, current, or theoretical) and almost always some amount of buying, selling, or bartering.
Lastly, I’ve learned that I did not appreciate what their young minds were capable of working through and solving. The things they’ve picked up just listening to adults, even the one-off comments they’ve heard, and poof they extrapolate some crazy plans from there.
TLDR: Tabletop role-playing games are fun and educational for children. If you’re running the game you are in control of the elements at play. If your games are an excursion into the occult it’s because you choose to take them there.