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How Games Like Dungeons and Dragons Can Foster Creativity, Problem Solving, and Much More!


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My slideshow for the 66th Annual NAGC Convention!

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How Games Like Dungeons and Dragons Can Foster Creativity, Problem Solving, and Much More!

  1. 1. HOW GAMES LIKE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS CAN FOSTER CREATIVITY, PROBLEM SOLVING, AND MUCH MORE! Robert Lundstrom Sacramento City Unified School District Sacramento, CA National Association for Gifted Children 66th Annual Convention November 7th – 10th, 2019 Albuquerque, NM
  2. 2. TRAITS OF GIFTEDNESS (CLARK, B. (2008). GROWING UP GIFTED (7TH ED.) UPPER SADDLE RIVER, NJ: PEARSON PRENTICE HALL.) • Interest in problem-solving and applying concepts • Voracious and early reader • Large vocabulary • Power of critical thinking, skepticism, self- criticism • Diversity of interests and abilities • Creativeness and inventiveness • Ability for fantasy • Openness to stimuli, wide interests • Sensitivity or empathy to the feelings of others • Need for consistency between abstract values and personal actions • Advanced levels of moral judgment • Intensely focused on passions • Impulsive, eager, and spirited • Insatiable curiosity Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games contain elements and features that are in line with the traits of gifted and talented children!
  3. 3. CHARACTERISTICS OF GATE CHILDREN (FROM “HELPING YOUR GIFTED CHILD SUCCEED” – THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR GIFTED CHILDREN - 2015) • Uses advanced vocabulary • Engages in word play, mimicry, and storytelling • Enjoys solving puzzles with numbers, words, and images • Excels at improvising ways to solve problems • Thinks in abstract, complex, insightful, and creative ways • Is highly inquisitive and asks probing questions • Daydreams – lives in his or her own world • Exhibits a vivid and precise imagination • Responds to and demonstrates strengths in the arts • Is concerned with truth, equity, and justice Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games are a fun and engaging way to meet many of the needs of gifted and talented children!
  4. 4. WHAT IS DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS? • A collaborative table-top fantasy role playing game about story telling in worlds of swords and sorcery, driven by imagination. • The game revolves around a story teller, or Dungeon Master, who builds a narrative and facilitates dialogue through players and their characters. • The Dungeon Master guides the game and story by presenting challenges to the players and refereeing the game. • Players resolve the challenges through dialogue and dice rolling, and the Dungeon Master describes the results of the character’s actions. • No winning or losing, as D&D is cooperative and collaborative.
  6. 6. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS - BEGINNINGS • Created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arnesen • First published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR) in 1974 • Derived from miniature wargames • Commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role- playing industry
  7. 7. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – SOURCES AND INSPIRATION • D&D was and is influenced by • Mythology • History • Pulp-Fiction • Medieval fantasy • Writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, H.P. Lovecraft, and many more.
  8. 8. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – EDITION HISTORY • Original D&D Box Set (1974) • 1st Edition (updated) - Advanced D&D (1977-1979) • 2nd edition (1989) • 3rd edition (2000) • Version 3.5 (updated 3rd edition) (2003) • 4th edition (2007) • 5th edition (2012 – most recent edition)
  9. 9. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – THE 80’S AND THE “SATANIC PANIC” • Country was on edge as a result of the rise of the church of satan, the new evangelic majority, heavy metal music, imagery, and lyrics, and the war on drugs. • D&D, with its references to wizards, spells, and polytheistic images, became an easy target in the media. • Rumors started of kids playing D&D in underground tunnels, worshipping satan, and committing suicide.
  10. 10. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – THE 80’S AND THE “SATANIC PANIC” • Nothing had a more profound effect on the public’s perception of Dungeons and Dragons than the movie Mazes and Monsters, a movie based on a book written in 1981 by Rona Jaffe and starring a very young Tom Hanks in his first leading role. • Novel based on inaccurate news stories regarding the mysterious disappearance of James Dallas Egbert. • Egbert was found, but later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. • Despite evidence of his history of mental illness and drug addiction, many attributed his suicide to the fact that he played D&D. • Several other suicides were linked to D&D, including Irving lee Pulling, whose mother Patricia, along with the help of several conservative Christian outlets, formed BADD (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons) in 1982.
  11. 11. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES • Socially awkward • Troublemakers • Devil worshippers • Outcasts • Schizophrenics • Misfits • Nerds
  12. 12. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – RESURGENCE Because of the “Satanic Panic” and negative stereotypes about role playing games (RPG’s) and gamers, D&D became vilified and decreased in popularity for many years. But all that was about to change…
  13. 13. HISTORY OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – RESURGENCE • 5th ed. – simpler “back to basics” rules • Increasingly isolated in a screen dominated world, people crave the intimacy of face to face interaction • D&D players from the 80’s and 90’s are playing with their kids • Recent pop culture references from Big Bang Theory, Stranger Things, Community, etc. • Online shows such as Dice, Camera, Action and Critical Role • Benefits realized: fun social gathering, problem solving, creativity, writing, imagination, cooperation, teamwork, and collaborative storytelling
  14. 14. HOW TO PLAY D&D – GETTING STARTED • Cheapest way – D&D Starter Set ($20) • Contains everything you need to get started • Watered down rules free online ules • Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and Monster Manual • D&D Beyond Website – Character Sheets • Set of polyhedral dice - 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 1d20 • Optional – Battle Mat, DM Screen, miniatures
  15. 15. HOW TO PLAY D&D – THE DUNGEON MASTER (DM) • Also known as the GM (Game Master) • DM acts as the narrator, guide, moderator, story designer, and adjudicator of rules • Can run a pre-made adventure or a made up one (called a “homebrew” adventure) • Job isn’t to compete against the characters • Important to note that the DM doesn’t have to know all the rules! • Don’t be adversarial…make sure the players have FUN!
  16. 16. HOW TO PLAY D&D – THE PLAYERS • 3 – 6 players is optimal • Use a character sheet to create characters to role play • Step by step instructions on how to roll up a character are online or see Player’s Handbook page 11 • Players role play their characters and describe to the DM what they want to do • Players “level up” and gain more experience, skills, and wealth
  17. 17. BENEFITS OF PLAYING DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – READING, WRITING, AND MATH • A textual, story-telling, world-building experience • Character building requires lots of reading • High text level vocabulary • Writing • DM creates dialogue and personalities for NPC’s (non-player characters) • Lots of computational math, probability, game theory, percentages, and more
  18. 18. BENEFITS OF PLAYING DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – COLLABORATION AND TEAMWORK • D&D is collaborative storytelling • Gamers work as a team to solve problems, defeat monsters, and level up • Each character fulfills a certain role; specializes in certain areas • Players often need to rely on each other to be successful • Diverse group of characters working towards a common goal • Teamwork highly important in the professional world
  19. 19. BENEFITS OF PLAYING DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – CREATIVITY • Gives inspiration to create your own weapons, magic spells, characters, monsters, dungeons, towns, nations, magical lore, and worlds • DM’s and players can get immersed in the creative writing aspect of the game through world building, creating NPC’s, and player backstories • Related hobbies: cosplay, 3-D miniature creation and painting, writing, drawing, map making, world building, landscape/terrain creation Before painting! After painting! Paint job by Jeri Lee (crave34) - Etsy
  20. 20. BENEFITS OF PLAYING DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING • Players solve riddles, puzzles, and gain information from NPC’s through dialogue • “How might we cross this pit or disarm this trap with the resources we have?” • Players need to decide when to fight and when to use diplomacy • Players plan coordinated attacks or missions • Through critical thinking and problem solving, players make unexpected connections and discover alternative paths
  21. 21. BENEFITS OF PLAYING DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – SOCIAL • RPG’s like D&D are 100% social • Involves lots of talking, telling how you feel about certain things in a group setting • Interactions are face to face; no screen in between • Cultivates camaraderie; a bonding experience of mutual accomplishment • Fosters perseverance • Allows you to take risks in a safe environment • Increasingly being used as a therapeutic tool to treat social anxiety, trauma and PTSD, autism, and more
  22. 22. BENEFITS OF PLAYING DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS – EMPATHY AND TOLERANCE • Players create characters with goals, hopes, dreams, and flaws • When you role play the character you are “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” • Characters interact with other characters or NPC’s with different backgrounds and moral codes • Navigating murky ethical situations • Deepens understanding of people who are different from you
  23. 23. HOW TO FIND A D&D GAME OR GROUP • Local game shops often host weekly D&D nights • Facebook groups – search “dungeons and dragons” and [city] • Board gaming groups on • RPG Table Finder - • Roll20 (online D&D games) • Start a game with friends, family, or co-workers!
  24. 24. HOW TO START YOUR OWN D&D CLUB • Fundraising websites such as GoFundMe or Donors Choose to help fund the cost of books and supplies • Running a School RPG or D&D Club - Ethan Schoonover • See slide 15 for more information on getting started with the game.
  26. 26. D&D IN MOVIES AND TV • Freaks and Geeks - • Community - • Big Bang Theory - • Stranger Things - • E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial -
  27. 27. D&D INFORMATIONAL VIDEOS • The Satanic Panic of the 80’s vs. Dungeons and Dragons - • Why Dungeons and Dragons is Good For You - • Learn the Basics of Dungeons and Dragons in 7 Minutes! - • How to Make a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed. Character, pt. 1 - • Critical Role, Season 2, Ep. 1 (warning: R-rated language) - • Not appropriate for younger kids, but a really fun, informational way to watch how D&D is played. • GM Tips by Matthew Mercer -
  28. 28. REFERENCES • Dungeons and Dragons - The Player’s Handbook, 5th Ed. Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, et al. Wizards of the Coast. 2014 • Beginner’s Guide to D&D - guide-dungeons-and-dragons.htm. Tracy Wilson, Josh Clarke, and Kate Kershner. Accessed 4/14/19. • The (Not-So) Secret History of D&D - Shannon Appelcline. Accessed 4/14/19. • Gandalf vs. Balrog Wall Décor Fantasy Art by Gonzalo Kenny. • A Brief Primer on the Different Editions of Dungeons and Dragons - Clave Jones. Accessed 4/14/19. • The Satanic Panic of the 80’s vs. Dungeons and Dragons - Geek History. Accessed 4/14/19. • 12 Nutty Dungeons and Dragons Media Mentions From the 80’s. Chris Higgins. Accessed 4/25/19.
  29. 29. REFERENCES • Satanic Panic: By Far the Most Excruciating Talk My Mom Ever Gave Me. excruciating-talk-my-mom-ever-gave-me/. Captain Cassidy. Accessed 4/25/19. • The Great 1980’s Dungeons and Dragons Panic. BBC News Magazine. Accessed 4/25/19. • The Uncanny Resurrection of Dungeons and Dragons. comment/the-uncanny-resurrection-of-dungeons-and-dragons. Neima Jahromi. Accessed 4/25/19. • The Surprising Benefits of Role Playing Games (And How to Get Started). surprising-benefits-of-role-playing-games-and-how-1684582789. Patrick Allan. Accessed 4/25/19. • RPG Research. Hawke Robinson. Accessed 4/27/19. • A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Dungeons and Dragons. dice-character-sheets-dm. Emily Heller. Accessed 4/27/19. • Dungeons and Dragons: An Educational RPG. rpg/. Michael Krebs. Accessed 4/27/19. • Geek and Sundry: Finding an RPG Group: How Do You Want to Do This? Kelly Knox. Accessed 4/27/19.
  30. 30. REFERENCES • I Play Dungeons and Dragons And Its Not What You Think It Is. dungeons-dragons-and-its-not-what-you-think. Meghan Owens. Accessed 4/27/19. • How playing Dungeons and Dragons has helped me be more connected, creative, and compassionate. and-compassionate/. Ethan Gilsdorf. Accessed 4/27/19. • Helping Your Gifted Child Succeed (pdf). parents. National Association for Gifted Children. 2015. • Back When People Thought Dungeons and Dragons Was Satanic. Accessed 4/27/19 • These Illustrated Sheets Give Your Character Sheets Character. illustrated-sheets-give-your-character-sheets-character/. Kelly Knox. Accessed 4/27/19. • Why You Should Play Dungeons and Dragons With Your Kids. Trevor Law. Accessed 4/27/19. • Beyond the Black Gate. traditional.html. Accessed 4/27/19.
  31. 31. “It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies and using their imaginations in free play.” – The American Academy of Pediatrics
  32. 32. CONTACT INFORMATION • Phone: (916) 591-0036 • Email: • Twitter: @thetcha70 • Blog: • Linkedin: Robert Lundstrom Camellia Basic Elementary 6600 Cougar Dr. Sacramento, CA 95828