Friday, May 15, 2020

Should My Kid Become a DM?

by Hannah

There’s something to be said for the innate nature of roleplaying, as a thing that comes naturally to people. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to roleplay as different characters and use those characters to tell stories. Humans enjoy narrative engagement. Perhaps not to equal degrees always, but it is common enough that we have accepted specific forms of narrative as true or universal somehow, though that creates its own host of problems. What I am specifically speaking of here is the drive to tell stories, even at a young age. For some it is a hobby-level engagement, for some a passing interest, and for others it becomes a lifelong pursuit. For me it was the last of those three, though I chose to pursue being the writer or, in roleplaying terms, being the Dungeon Master/Game Master rather than the actor or player character. I do enjoy being a player character, and I also love theater and acting, but writing always attracted me more. I think of it as simply a different part of the creative process in which to specialize.

We have such a great Dungeons and Dragons 5E community here at Labyrinth with both kids and adults alike. I always love seeing parents supporting their kids’ love of D&D too because it was something I wished I’d known about at that age. Growing up in an extremely rural county, there were no board game shops, no D&D groups (or, if there were, they were really quiet about it), and there was definitely nothing like what is offered to kids at Labyrinth. It is without a doubt the coolest experience ever getting to work there and help DM for this amazing community, especially as I come into my own as a DM. 

As a DM, much like as a writer of other fiction, I have the ability to help players see a world wholly different from their own through the power of words and occasionally maps and other such visual representations. It’s not entirely unlike the hero movies I used to make with my action men and, once, a set of toothpicks, since my action men were elsewhere. You get to lay out the entire setting, characters, quests, but, unlike in my movies, you get the joy of seeing the unique way players interact with the material.

If you have a kid, who like me, tries to tell stories every chance they can get, and can sometimes be a little unyielding in terms of the “creative direction” of a story, then I wholly recommend teaching them about DM’ing for games like Dungeons and Dragons 5E. If you’re not familiar yourself, then no problem. Labyrinth has a bunch of DMs who all have their own unique approaches and who are great teachers, so be sure to ask us for advice. DM’ing can be a great outlet for that narrative drive, as well as a great place to learn about allowing actors or players to interact with the story in organic and unpredictable ways. I first learned how to handle constructive criticism for my stories from my workshops in graduate school, but being a DM has taught me how to handle the ways in which those who are coming to your story from the outside, as readers, will interpret its signs differently and in ways you might not have imagined. 

It’s an extremely educational game, as it teaches the DM creative problem solving, storytelling, and social skills, and it teaches players how to cooperate as a group, social skills, and multi-tasking as well. So to answer the original question posed by the title of this article, I think becoming a DM is a great opportunity for any young storyteller, and will likely change how they see storytelling for the better. The simple answer is"Yes!" If they enjoy roleplaying but also want to control the general direction of stories, then being a DM is a no-brainer.  

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