How Roleplaying Games Could Spark Social Change

Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying games are great for exercising the imagination, relieving stress, and so much more… maybe even changing the world. The new minister of international development in Norway, Heikki Holmås, believes they are a useful tool to help you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and can be a catalyst for social understanding and maybe even significant positive change.

The 39-year old has been gaming since he was 15. He even won Norway’s D&D championship in 1989 and won a trip to GenCon. He’s helped found a roleplaying convention and played everything from tabletop games to LARPs (live action roleplaying). One experience with LARPing put him in the role of a German solider in 1942, and he found the experience to be incredibly intense and enlightening.

His years of experience with this type of gaming have led Holmås to believe they can help make the world a better place:

“- RPGs can be extremely relevant in putting people in situations they’re unfamiliar with. Save the Children have their refugee games. I have friends in Bergen who’ve run human rights-RPGs. But you have to be professional. You create real emotions when you play role playing games, real emotions that stick, he says.

– That’s kind of the slightly scary aspect of role playing games, which has to be considered. At the same time, it’s what makes it possible for RPGs to change the world. LARP can change the world, because it lets people understand that humans under pressure may act differently than in the normal life, when you’re safe.”

If you join a game with creative people running it, it can absolutely become an enveloping experience. You can forget about the real world for a while if it’s a fantasy game, but if you’re roleplaying real life situations I think it could definitely help you relate to the lives of others.

(Imagonem via Blastr)

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