Nonprofit-LiveWe are professional game masters who have been using Dungeons and Dragons in therapy groups for the past six years. We just launched a nonprofit called Game to Grow. Ask us anything!
Oct 24th 2017 by gametogrow • 24 Questions • 183 Points
Hi Reddit! We are Adam Johns and Adam Davis. Since 2011 we’ve been running therapeutic groups using Dungeons and Dragons and other games to help teens and adolescents build confidence, relieve anxiety, and develop social skills. Many of our participants struggle with autism-related challenges, and we’ve found that games of all kinds, but especially Dungeons and Dragons, can help them build much-needed skills. We’ve used our training in psychology, education, family therapy, and drama therapy to design in-game encounters to specifically help build real-world skills.
We’ve spoken about our work at conventions around the country, and we’ve been featured in Kotaku, Geek and Sundry, the BBC, and we’ve appeared on the official Dungeons and Dragons podcast. Most recently we appeared on the Penny Arcade C-Team Table Talk.
We just launched the non-profit Game to Grow along with a crowdfunder in order to expand our work and spread it around the world. Donations to our Generosity campaign go directly to helping us launch more groups to serve even more kids and teens with lagging social skill development!
A game in every home! Ask us anything! (And proof)
1st Edit: Thank you for all of the great questions! We're going to take a quick coffee break but keep the questions coming in and we'll get to them as soon as we can.
2nd Edit: We're back and answering questions. We'll probably have to stop around 3:00 PST so that we can plan our groups for this evening, but we'll get to as many questions as we can before we stop.
Final Edit: We've got to head out to plan our groups, but thank you everyone for all the great questions! Especially thank you for all of your generous donations to the crowdfunder! You help make this work possible and are helping us to get services out to the many people who need them. I'm sorry if we weren't able to answer your question, but please feel free to email us at contact at gametogrow.org if you have any questions that we didn't get to! May all your hits be crits!
Well I'll get the obvious question out of the way first. What edition do you play, and why that one in particular?
Davis here. Great question! We play mostly 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. We've found that is has enough rules to provide the structure needed for our players to feel safe and secure in the boundaries of the game, while still providing enough openness to be able to modify and ignore the rules when necessary. We've also played other games and incorporated other mechanics, but D&D 5e has been the game we've used the most. We also grew up playing earlier editions, so it's something we've loved for a long time.
Ever have to deal with a player wanting to be an evil character? If so how do you deal with them?
Davis here. We often have players that want to be "evil." I've never particularly liked the alignment system anyway, so I normally respond by saying "what are you hoping to get out of your game by being 'evil?'" If they want to wander the countryside indiscriminately killing civilians, I let them know that despite alignment, they must be heroes who are on a team with other heroes, and heroes don't indiscriminately kill innocent people. If players want to be "assassins" or some other more "dark" backstory, I'm alright with that, as long as they agree that their goal is to work on a team of heroes in spite of their dark past. I guide them toward examples of characters who sometimes do hard things for the right reason, or sometimes characters like Han Solo (WHO SHOT FIRST).
I also encourage them to go on journeys of redemption. I've had many players play necromancers, assassins, lone thieves, etc., and that's the right character for them to play to get therapeutic benefit. I then guide their characters (and thus the player) on a redemptive journey of mutual growth.
Hey! I run a nonprofit called Gamers United Foundation, and I would love to integrate something very similar into our program. I'm a HUGE fan of DnD and I love the entire idea behind your nonprofit.
Is there any tips and suggestions you'd give to setting things up? I know we are pretty far away from each other but would you be interested in collaborating? Or I'd love to help if possible!
Johns here. Your organization looks awesome! We would love to figure out a way to collaborate in the future. We're still in process with our 501(c)(3) application, but you should feel free to shoot us an email at contact at gametogrow.org and we'll see if we can find a way to best collaborate. At the very least we'd love to help you get in touch with other similar resources.
Thank you for contributing in such an impactful way to the message that games can be good for you!