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For some, a tabletop RPG is more than a game. It's a world, not entirely separate from our own, that lives and breathes, that has rules and consequences, and that affects how some of us live our real lives.
It's a way that you can truly be "whoever you want to be."
A Roleplay game is just what it sounds like. Each person creates a character with a story and values and challenges, and pilots that character through a fictional world. These characters are extensions of ourselves, separate lives that we live as whoever we want to be. It sounds obvious, but it's a very healthy way for kids and young adults (and regular adults, for that matter) to escape from parts of their lives that they don't like so much. It gives many of us a chance to be heroes, even just for a few hours a week—a chance we wouldn't otherwise get.
Beyond that, RPGs give kids the chance to answer questions that they wouldn't normally have a chance to even ask. Being able to figure out these things for themselves in a controlled environment allows people to react in a more peaceful manner when finally confronting the same or similar situations in real life. Kids who are more introverted may want to see what it’s like to be suave and charismatic, so they give themselves a higher Charisma score. When they can’t figure out what to say, they let the character roll, and let the numbers do the talking. A less athletic player may want to see what it’s like to be the jock, so they create a barbarian or fighter to explore that. They wouldn't be able to throw a javelin or expertly handle a sword, but their character can.
At the same time, players can create characters that are just like themselves to figure out things that they don’t know about who they are. Games like these give kids a safe and open place to explore questions of morality, sexuality, and personality without babying them. It allows them to face those conflicts in a place where they’re more confident in themselves, and aren’t afraid of failure. Would you stand alone in front of an army of the undead, threatening to erase the city of your birth? Yes. Will you live? Probably not—but never fear! You can just create a new character and try again. Was it incredible to try, at least? Of course. You got to be the hero.
It can even get a little more realistic.
As a DM, I find a lot of opportunities to be the hand of justice. I control everything, good and bad; so, when my players misbehave, I have the option to remind them of the consequences of questionable morality. If something is stolen, I give the town guard the chance of seeing them. If the guards notice, they have to actively evade the law. Can't outrun a city's worth of guards? Well, it seems that a little jail time is in order for your character. In the same vein, it can be interesting to weave contemporary issues like racism and sexism into your campaigns, in a place where you can have those conversations and confront those issues, using your character as a buffer.
In these worlds, we can explore what our own world might look like without some of the issues plaguing society, or we can highlight them and some better ways to handle them. Sexism could be something that just doesn't exist, but we could explore a healthier and more logical way to deal with racism in society. The possibilities are endless, because we are completely in charge of what exists in these universes.
Stories like these are important to development.
This sort of controlled escapism is a perfect middle ground between introverted gamers and extroverted heroes. It also gives people with strong views a chance to test those views in situations designed to challenge them and how they see things—it gives people the chance to see if those ideas hold up to how they really act, or see if they really believe what they say when confronted with it. RPGs offer a healthy way to explore your beliefs and behaviors in a safe environment. It's a great way to set opposing viewpoints at the table without ruining friendships.
The most important part, however, is that it's fun. It's a very social form of entertainment that lets families and friend groups become much closer than they would be otherwise, as they face the forces of darkness together.
So grab some dice, a rule book, and some character sheets. Let everyone add to the story you're all telling, and just let the magic happen. It's more rewarding than you'd think.