hen it comes to team building activities your mind likely doesn't think of a game where you hunt monsters and scavenge for treasure. While both those things are certainly hallmarks of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), recent studies into the social and psychological benefits of the game highlight elements that make it the perfect fit for teambuilding.

What is Dungeons & Dragons?

Dungeons & Dragons has gained increased popularity in the last decade thanks to its prominence in popular television shows like Stranger Things and celebrity endorsements from folks like Joe Manganiello, Vin Diesel, and most recently, Jeff Goldblum, but what exactly is it?

D&D is a tabletop roleplaying game where a group of players takes on the roles of Adventurers. Another player, or Dungeon Master, acts as the storyteller and moderator for the game. The Dungeon Master crafts the adventure and plays the non-player characters that populate the world and the monsters that thwart the Adventurers. Additionally, the Dungeon Master is there to help with any rules questions, should they arise.

The game is played through a combination of roleplay and dice rolls. Over the years various tools have been used to help facilitate combat encounters or help players visualize the environment. These tools include but are not limited to maps, dungeon tiles, mini-figurines, character and monster artwork.

Party Balance and Collaboration

In Dungeons & Dragons, the players create characters that take on different roles or classes. Each class has different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Some examples of classes include Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, and Wizard.

Party Balance refers to the idea that each player fills a particular archetypal role and will take responsibility for tasks that require their expertise, just like how in the office each member of a team may be responsible for different things based on a combination of factors like their skillset, job title, and department.

Throughout gameplay, players learn about the skills of every character in their party and are expected to collaborate on a strategy to effectively complete whatever challenge currently faces them. This builds a sense of trust through creative collaboration.

Getting to know your colleagues at a deeper level through creative activities creates the space to build trust. The goal is for everyone to feel encouraged to speak up. - Corporate Strategy Expert Laura Comacho, Mixonian Institute

The Role of The Dungeon Master

Although the Dungeon Master controls the monsters and crafts the challenges the Adventurers will face, the Dungeon Master's responsibility is to ensure that everyone is having a good time. As you can imagine a talented Dungeon Master - or DM - will have a variety of skillsets. DMs are not only storytellers, they are improvisers. They are not just rules moderators, but social moderators. A Dungeon Master's role is to ensure that the game keeps moving, that everyone is being given a voice, and most importantly that everyone has fun.

Robin Blakely from Creative Center for America says that one of the top components for team building activities is fun. "Fun is powerful because setting the stage for fun unlocks creativity. Creative thinking leads to innovation. Innovation is the cornerstone for success."

New Research Highlights Psychological and Social Benefits

Research into tabletop roleplaying games isn't anything new. Early on, this research was primarily fueled by the "Satanic Panic" of the '80s and '90s that had many parents concerned that the game was harmful to their children. Those studies showed that people who enjoyed tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons were less likely to experience suicidal and anti-social behaviors.

In the past decade, research into tabletop roleplaying games has primarily focused on their psychological and social benefits. A research study was published by UC Santa Barbara's Graduate Journal, Kaleidoscope in 2013 that documented how players of D&D use the game to fulfill social needs including collaboration and building rapport. One of the groups documented in the 2013 study included a pair of siblings known to get into heated arguments. This sibling rivalry was not exhibited while playing the game and was reported to have calmed as the two continued to play in weekly sessions.

Adventuring With Your Team

D&D's emphasis on teamwork, strategy, and creativity make it a fantastic pick for a teambuilding event. If you are ready to begin crafting your adventure, get in touch with StartPlaying.Games today.



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