In the coming year, we will be sharing some of the resources we have created and used. We have used tabletop RPGs across multiple settings to help teens, young adults, and people with special needs develop skills in a supportive context. If you have questions in the meantime, feel free to contact us.
At its core, tabletop role-playing is the construction of a group story. Although some elements live in the GM's head, specifics are invented by the players in the moment, as with improv. This varies by GM and game system, of course. The best stories provide enough clues to intrigue players and keep them moving forward purposefully while also making them think creatively and overcome obstacles. The dice add a random element to keep everyone on their toes.
Taking on a role-play character is an opportunity to practice empathy and shift perspectives. It also gives the player the chance to experiment with identity and take risks safely. The dice guarantee consequences, but the consequences are temporary. Games with minimal rules and 6-sided dice emphasize creative writing/thinking, characterization, improvisation, and flexibility. Games with more rules and dice add more structure and/or limitations to constrain choices. As long as someone in the group can remember the mechanics and manage the dice, tabletop games can be adapted across ages and ability levels.
Collaborative classroom storytelling, similar to rules-light RPGs, presents opportunities for students to:
build critical thinking skills
sharpen decision-making skills
refine morality and ethics
collaborate to reach a goal
polish public speaking skills
take a leadership role in a group
engage playfully with subject matter
express emotion in a positive forum
learn delayed gratification
strengthen coping skills
adopt a lifelong learning orientation
Ideally, teachers and assistants lead and guide students in developing the ability to work together in the game and include all players in the action. Beginning players will need more support with game dynamics as well as interpersonal skills (e.g., turn-taking, perspective shifts, assertive communication, negotiation, etc.), while more experienced players may only need a story seed to get started.