Why roleplaying is great for learning?

At the WTO event in 2018, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said something that must be understood, “to compete with machines we cannot teach knowledge” as we find it everywhere now. By telling “we have to teach something human, unique, so that machines cannot catch up with us”, Jack Ma points at “soft skills” and “values” like creativity, empathy, art, critical thinking etc.

As we were jumping on the tables when we watched this video, we found out that role-playing games were one of the tools that could be used to learn, at any age, these soft skills.

Role-playing games?

People understand role-playing games (RPGs) as being the good old Dungeons and Dragons to which friends played at, helped by heavy guides on how the environment works and which weapon can help you defeat this or that monster.

It’s true, this super-successful game changed the entire generations. But RPGs can be more than fantasy stories based on guidelines. They can be more opened to … personalized stories.

Forget about board games. What about role-playing games as stories you write from your own imagination?

How does it work?

First, you need to have a bit of imagination, writing skills and structures to think and write your story.

Then you have to set up the rules of your game, of its world, some music, some illustrations of your story’s characters etc.

Finally, you need people to take part in the story as characters. If you don’t have any that are motivated, go online. A move that can find its success.

For example, the recent very promising TV Show The Expanse has been written as an online role-playing game, on an online forum …

Several benefits are worth noting with writing role-playing stories. In terms of personal, collective, professional, and education improvement. Role-playing games are in fact really good methods to use in order to improve and learn better! We found three benefits.

1. Writing stories ignites your creativity

Apart from playing the game, writing it is awesomely good for inspiration as you project yourself in a world. You train yourself to imagine it as clearly as possible. By that we mean its environment, the complexity of its characters and its socio-economic structure or the freedom of action players will be able to have once they enter your world.

By structuring the mechanics, cultures and systems of the world, you go a step further and enter a continuous problem-solving phase. How can people travel across this world? What can players learn in this city or through this sub-adventure? How to build a twist? These are the kind of questions that will keep you, story creators, awake at night.

It doesn’t stop there. Creating your own stories has influences on your day-to-day life. You become more open to new ideas and better organized at work or in your personal projects.

2. Setting up your world makes you better at storytelling

The goal of role-playing games isn’t just writing a story. Nor is it to be read by people. It’s rather meant to be played by people.

So you better train at developing strong storytelling skills. Players must adapt to their characters and be inspired by them. They must listen to your words to see themselves where you say they are. And it’s not just about words. The music you chose to frame a particular moment or the setting of the room the participants are in is so important to make your story become a collective journey of the mind into another world. Kind of like the movie Inception: a trip into a dream.

Storytelling is so important in every way, every aspect of our society whether it is in career. We could give quotes ranging from David Ogilvy to ancient amerindian tribes that tells the importance of storytelling in our society.

3. Collective playing improves empathy and cooperation

It certainly seems naive but it’s not. At TestWe, we personally tried several role-playing games.

Although teams were a bit messy and uncoordinated at first, throughout the episodes we listened to each other and understood each other better and finally succeeded at solving the game’s problems. We had a great time together and it resulted in better cooperation between the team members of the family!

Listening to each other is the first step toward empathy and ensuring a great cooperation between people. A quality that definitely needs to be mastered today to evolve professionally and personally.

Overall, role-playing games are a great way to learn that should be used more for students

Whether it is you writing the story or others playing it, role-playing games help you learn values, soft skills as Jack Ma called for a new form of education. It should be applied to course activities. How so?

First, because it’s fun. Fun creates engagement and improves learning.

Second, because you learn by living the adventure. By creating sociocultural environments in your story, by talking about economics, history, politics, physics, many topics that can be based on real facts, it can ignite curiosity and learning easier for your students.

Third, because it’s a social game and as we wrote before about social activities was that they helped learn respect and understanding of others. But also critical thinking as we learn to articulate our thinking and our propositions to the group in order to make a step further into the adventure, we learn not to rush into a trap just because we’re tilted. A key element to develop for future leaders and innovators.