Rolling Up Confidence: The Benefits of Tabletop Gaming

It was only a matter of time before I dusted off my old dice bag, poured out my set of multi-sided dice, and actually talked about a different venue of gaming – tabletop gaming. Tabletop gaming has been a part of my life for quite some time, but only recently have I come to admire and appreciate what tabletop gaming has done for me as a grown man.

I recently found some wonderful videos that details how Dungeons and Dragons can make you a more confident person. I felt like I should share them with my readers, because I feel like tabletop gaming can share so many benefits that video games just don’t provide a player.

PBS Idea Channel – How DnD Can Make You A Confident and Successful Person:

A Fistful of Dice Dungeons and Dragons – Satan’s Game [ A Misconception of Tabletop ]

Here’s a list of the positives, see if you disagree with me here:

  • Social Interaction
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Visualization and Innovation Techniques
  • Adaptability 
  • Stress Relief
  • Increased Confidence
  • Increased Sociability 
  • Increased Sense of Achievement
  • Increased Communication Skills

Now I know you’re probably all reading this and going –

“Seriously? How does rolling dice do all of this for me?

I thought DnD was for nerds only!”

– as if it was some exclusive club we were officially shunning folks from. In actuality it’s a pretty open format available to pretty much anyone who’s willing to open their evenings up to an evening filled with goblins, gnomes, and epic adventure stories that seem to be pulled straight from the pages of The Hobbit. The great thing about tabletop gaming is that, now, there are so many variations and styles of tabletop game – you’re kind of hard pressed to find something that you won’t like. Whether it’s the new-school Pathfinder, or the old-school DnD 1st Edition – you’ll find something to wet your creative imagination.

I started playing DnD – or variations of it – about 8 years ago. I got hooked on video games like Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate, and other RPG games. The one aspect I found most fascinating was the concept that I could play as anyone, or anything I wanted – within reason – and I could journey on these exquisite quests with lavish adventures with other characters that had lavish personalities. It was like a small oasis of sanity in a time in my life where I felt quite misunderstood and uncomfortable with who I was as a person.

I was never confident growing up, and those who perceived that I was must have massively failed a Will save at my Bluff skill. DnD and other roleplaying games helped me to define that portion of my life. It produced a sense of confidence in me, because nothing said I could take on the world more than the success of defeating a raid of orcs just before school – acquiring a date or two would have been too – but I digress…

I think that’s ultimately the point I’m trying to share here:

Tabletop games are fun for your soul. 

I know that sounds fleeting, but hear me out. In comparison to online FPS’s, RPG’s, etc. You are in a room with your fellow friends [ If they aren’t your friends, well then I hope they become them. ] so you’re already gaining social interaction. You’re gaining SELF-CONFIDENCE due to an increased feeling of endorphins from succeeding in a roll check or doing some epic feat in front of the entire party. You’re gaining REAL WORLD PROBLEM SKILLS as you search to find a way to defeat a band of rogues on a road – together – and now you’re learning COLLABORATION.

My final point is:

Roleplaying games provide social and individual acceptance.

Embrace it. Love it. Learn it. Go Play it. A Campaign can be ANYTHING you want.

Imaginations are only limited by the person, not the rules.

You’ll learn to love who you are as you roll along. Now get out there and roll some d20’s!

Inspirational Gamer of the Week: Keith “Aieron” Knight

It’s been ages since I’ve posted one of these, but this story hit my desk this morning and I felt compelled to share it:

How many of us have lost loved ones to some form of physical disability? – some form of debilitating disease? Well in the case of Keith Knight – he’s losing many. He, along with many of his friends, deal with a variation of muscular dystrophy. Knight, though not having dystrophy himself, suffers from a condition known as Amyoplasia Arthrogrypos. This condition caused him to be born with less muscle mass than he was supposed to be born with. The condition has worsened over time – causing his joints to stiffen and fuse. He has an intimate and close relation with those of the MDA community. A friend of his recently passed away due to complications with the disease. In honor of his friend’s passing it has inspired him to take a stand for the MDA community in one of the most positive ways I can ever dream up.

This guy is truly a Legend in my book!

He intends to play games for charity.

Knight has been streaming his play sessions of Guild Wars 2 and League of Legends  in efforts to raise money for Walk for Muscular Dystrophy that took place in Canada on Sept. 22nd, 2012. Now certainly we’ve heard of people playing games to raise money for charity. I make mention of it all the time on here, but why is this special to me? – because of how Knight does what he does! You would never think that he could play like he does because of his stiff joints and lessened mobility, but he has found a way to make himself competitive despite his physical hardships. I’ll gladly try and embed the stream link on this article for you all to follow today and tomorrow. This guy is fantastic and an inspiring hero for people struggling with this disease.

He may not be able to walk, but his message will reach millions.

He uses his face for all of the inputs! He uses his chin to move the joysticks, and his nose and lips to input button presses. He has since moved on to PC gaming, as you can clearly see, but he still remains competitive. He places the mouse next to his cheek and uses a pen to provide for the button inputs! He’s remarkable and Keith, if you get a chance to read this, just know that I love what you’re doing man. You are truly an inspiration – not only to the MDA community – but to people around the world. I admire you for your strength and positive outlook in times of hardship and I can’t wait to show your video to everyone to get the word out.

So, please, if you have a moment – stop by his Twitch.tv thread and watch him play.

It’s pretty amazing to watch, and thank you to all who donated to this wonderful cause – Keith raised over $ 7,797.00!

Keith – more power to you man! I noticed in the article that you’re an aspiring game designer: Let me know when you graduate man. I would love to work with you some day, as I’m sure many of my fellow readers would as well. You are truly someone special and meaningful to this world sir!

Gamification: Gaming from Youth to Adult

Gamification. If you’ve been around my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that’s one of my favorite new definitions. I’ve been so intrigued by gamification, and one of my new favorite terms: Includification, that I decided to work on finding sites and activities that promote just those activities. If you’re a new viewer, or you have no idea what I’m talking about at this point, then let me give you a brief update what these terms mean.

Gamification:

1. The use of game design techniques, game thinking, & game mechanics to enhance non-gaming contexts.

Includification:

1. An ideology that content should include everyone, regardless of ability.

2. Design so that everyone can enjoy and appreciate the fruits of creative labor.

I started thinking if there were any places where these terms could be fully utilized, and I think I may have just found a couple of sites that are available to help do just that. Let’s start with the young ones first, because the earlier you can start a child’s education the more prepared they’ll be in the future. I’ll then go into detail about a wonderful site designed for adults to keep our minds sharp, focused, and energized.

For The Kids [ Preschool – Kindergarten ]: ABCMouse.com

If you’ve never read my article on gamification featuring Gabe Zichermann, he details in his lecture how gaming can actually make kids smarter. I couldn’t agree with him more and so, when I saw a commercial for ABCMouse.com, I knew I had to cover the site at some point. ABCMouse.com is an interactive hub for digital learning designed for early children’s learning. The curriculum is vast, so if you’re worried that it’s just a single subject site [ math, english, reading, etc. ] don’t worry – it has it all. I’ve looked over the site and it seems to be extremely accommodating to both children and parents alike.

Here’s a list of the possible curriculum that your child may see:

  • Reading
  • Math
  • Art
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Phonics

Each of these curriculum are presented in ways that make the educational process engaging, entertaining, and meaningful to the young student in training. Children will learn via online books, puzzles, games, and interactive printable materials that parents can use to continue your child’s education offline. The site is completely 100% child safe, and parents can even take part as an active participant in their child’s education.

Welcome to class kids! Get ready to learn!

The site utilizes personalization factors such as:

  • A personalized avatar for your child
  • A lesson builder so parents can control lesson plans
  • A progress tracker so parents can see how their child learns
  • A ticket and rewards system for children to reward them for success
  • Interactive learning activities that make learning feel personal
  • Recordable book options to make reading with your child a new experience.

A place of learning even a mother could love!

The site is backed by certified doctors and teachers and you can enroll today for either $7.95 per month, or $79.00 per year. You and your child will have a blast with these fun, easily accessible, and engaging new site. Now – as for you parents, don’t feel left out. If you find yourself feeling a little foggy after all of your time spent with your child’s education I think I’ve found a site for you too!

Continue reading

E3 Impressions: Wonderbook

Now I’m all about exploring the newest technology on the market, and Sony brought out something that truly caught my eye. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know my love for spreading education via the virtual video game experience. Well Sony seems to be on the cutting edge of the educational ‘gamification’ movement with their new tech they rolled out called the Wonderbook. Now what exactly is the Wonderbook? Well from what I understand they’re going to be actual interactive books that correlate with the Playstation Eye and using the Playstation Move to interact with the product. How cool is this idea? Well you better believe the little kid in me is squealing with excitement!

Especially due to the first major author that’s signed on to do a Wonderbook: J.K. RowlingsHARRY POTTER ANYONE?! That’s RIGHT! Rowlings has helped to devise a wonderful interactive storybook, The Book of Spells, that will take the reader into in-depth to NEW content by Rowling herself! Players will get to experience the Harry Potter universe like never before, and I personally can’t wait to see what they’re going to be capable of with this. You’ll see in the demo that they do have some technical glitches, but hey it’s the initial stages of what I believe to be a wonderful product. There’s always going to be some hiccups – that’s what demos and Q&A testing are for. Well now knowing that what do I expect from Wonderbook going forward?

Wingardium Leviosa!

Wonderbook Expectations:

  • Wonderbook definitely seems to be aimed at a younger crowd [ family and youth ] but I see a lot of potential here for some classic works.
  • There’s so much educational potential here. Can you imagine books like Dr. Seuss? Sesame Street? Where The Wild Things Are
  •  Interactive reading isn’t new by any means, but Wonderbook brings two of my favorite things together: reading and video games.
    • Disney used to provide interactive software for PC long before Sony began bringing this out, but there’s far more personal engagement  provided via Wonderbook I’d imagine. I loved my 90’s Disney Interactive software, but Wonderbook conceptually feels much better.
  • Teachers may even benefit from having PS3’s in their classrooms now, and using Wonderbooks to teach classic novels to students.
  • The interactivity provided by video game mediums provides new, exciting, and exhilarating memorable experiences for players.
  • The comprehension and excitement of reading might be sparked with enthusiasm via the way Wonderbook delivers this new material.

Incendio!

Sure, some naysayers may claim that this newfangled ideology of ‘gamification’ towards the way we read might turn children, parents, and others off actually reading. I say no way! Imagine this. Your young child sits down and plays with a Wonderbook [ for this hypothetical let’s just say Disney signs a license via Sony and they produce a Winnie the Pooh Wonderbook ] and he, or she, gets to explore the Hundred Acre Wood, learn valued moral decisions via Pooh’s adventures, counting, letters, etc. The educational potential is limitless! How could you not love this idea? So where do we go from here? Well we wait. We wait patiently for Wonderbooks to catch on. It sounds like they’ll be sold seperately as individual ‘game’ titles, but I wouldn’t mind spending on them. Especially if they were titles that I was hoping for [ like Harry Potter ]

If there are adults out there wondering, “Well, wait, so is Wonderbook only going to be for children and families?” – it certainly looks like that, but I can tell you folks with confidence that there are tons of companies that host more to teenage and adult fair that are interested in the Wonderbook technology. In fact, I’ve done some snooping around and it sounds like BBC America is totally interested in getting in on the Wonderbook vibe. If the idea of Stephen Moffit reinventing Doctor Who for an interactive reading material isn’t cool, then you may direct yourself to a TARDIS right now and jettison yourself into a time vortex! Can you imagine books like: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a Dr. Who novel based on the Whoniverse – Daleks, Cybermen, Fallen Angels, etc. or who knows – Game of Thrones? Lord of the Rings?

A Whovian Experience like NO OTHER?!

The choices are endless and I hope to see some of these come to life for real. They most likely won’t be out this year, and it’ll probably be a 2013 release – but I’d be willing to wait for such literary enjoyment. I’ve never been much of a Playstation Move supporter, but you’ve won me over Sony! Congratulations, now I’ll be Move supporting – as long as you continue to use your Move technology for the benefit of educational mediums.

Gaming With A Cause: The Speedgamers’ Pokemon Marathon

Well this is pretty fantastic – I found something awesome via Tim Schafer. Yes. The Tim Schafer. I follow him on Twitter and he just so happened to share a link that I feel like blogging about as well! So there’s this lovely gaming group called The Speed Gamers. The Speed Gamers run gaming marathons all the time, but this one really stood out to me. Why? They are currently running a charity gaming marathon to raise money for ACT Today.[ Austism Care and Treatment ] What is this gaming marathon about may you ask? Well I’ll let this graphic explain it:

Gotta Catch ‘Em All for Autism!

They are using Twitch TV to broadcast the stream and it’ll be up through the 22nd. So if you’re a fan of Pokemon and you want to support research for autism – grab your DS or your Gameboy Color – relive the retro love of this epic marathon and get to catching ’em all and donate to this wonderful cause. You’ll be helping children of all ages, while watching one of the most EPIC Pokemon marathons I’ve ever seen.

They’re still only half way done and they’ve got 3 days to go!

Inspirational Gamers of the Week: Signcraft and Coco & Co.

Hey there fellow gamers!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and I’m sorry, but alas thus is the risk of being a college student and working. It can sap your ability to do what you love to do. Now, today I’ve found something very cool and it’s an up and starting movement. I’m so proud to know that this sort of organization exists. I want to say that, while I’ve covered The Able Gamers Foundation and love them – I personally love it when smaller, more specific disability groups form to aid those in need. In this case there’s a group called Signcraft.

They’re a non-profit website that focuses on providing deaf gamers a venue to enjoy, understand, and learn about Starcraft 2 strategies, gameplay, etc. I hope they actually go further than this – it would be really inspiring to see them branch out past just a single game. I would love to see deaf-accessible game reviews, game walkthroughs, etc. not only for PC games but also console gamers. It would be a very cool concept and I see it being a large benefit for a fantastic community that I feel definitely needs exposure.

Currently they only do Starcraft commentaries, but please go check them out and if you like them and like what they’re doing tell them what you’d like to see. I’m sure they’d be open to opinions and more exposure! You can find them here, but here’s their current introduction video to get you guys started. This also inspired me to go find games that are exploring the art of deaf gaming in the game culture.

I’ll be posting a game post about it, but keep a look out for a game called “Way”  by Coco and Co.I’ll be downloading the available Alpha version currently, but it looks like a really amazing game that forces players to work together to try and solve puzzles via communicating via only by gesture communication. Check it out if you’re interested:

It’s severely indie – but that’s why I love it. I’m a sucker for indie games that challenge the norms, conformities of the industry, etc. and ‘Way’ seems fantastic – I’ll let you guys know exactly how it plays out soon!

Till then here’s to you all! Take care and happy gaming to you all!

Inspirational Gamer of the Week: Quadilious – Quadriplegic WoW Player

Well, I’ve been digging the inter-webs and last week was a difficult one to find any new inspirational gamers abound. Low and behold though, I was able to scrounge up a wonderful story [ and even though he’s been a gamer that’s been covered for a couple of years now ] I’m proud to be covering Quadilious’ story on Gastrogamer this week! Now – what’s so special about Quadilious that makes me admire him as an inspirational gamer? Well, to start, ‘Quadilious’ has been playing World of Warcraft [ WoW ] since 2006, and he’s been doing so as a quadriplegic gamer!

Please watch in FULL SCREEN. His video is hard to read if you’re watching it on screen.

He has a spinal cord injury that he suffered during a diving accident that affected his vertebrae. The injury affects his motor skills in his arms and hands, not just lack of movement in his legs. This, to most people, would be looked as a major issue when it comes to gaming, but somehow, Quadilious has overcome his struggles and he’s been playing as a part of DPS raids for years now. He’s been helping to form his own resource website for other WoW disabled gamers.

A WoW’er that makes me go: ‘Wow! I’m so blessed to know his story!’

Quadilious’ Resource Website

I think this is great, because even though it hasn’t been up for many years, it shows off some solutions to how quadriplegic gamers can get involved with PC gaming. You can check out his website, and I would also suggest that you check out the full interview articles from WoWInsider. They share a lot of wonderful inspirational gamer stories of gamers who play World of Warcraft. I’ll probably be covering a couple of other great stories like this, but I personally think it’s fantastic when I see a fellow gamer reaching out to his gaming community!

WoW Insider: Quadilious Interview #1

WoW Insider: Quadilious Interview #2

So here’s to you Quadilious! So glad to see you’ve found happiness and joy in sharing your story and gameplay with others and I am so inspired by you, because despite your hardships you seem to have truly found a happiness through gaming and the community around you! Congrats man and I wish you the best in your future WoW playing!