Dragons Can be Beaten: The Emotional Benefits of D&D

We explore a quote as it pertains to the emotional benefits of roleplaying in Dungeons & Dragons.

As I was creating an inspirational quote post to share across our social media on tabletop gaming, it got me really thinking. I mean really thinking about this wonderful tabletop game. Perhaps it is because it coincided with a tear-jerking emotional game we recently played. But I reflected on how storytelling and roleplaying through TTRPGs is an extremely healthy experience.

“Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman

While tabletop games are much to complex to categorize as “fairy tales”, they are still fantasy to the very core and, per the name, have dragons. But within this quote dragons represent so much more than the scaled elemental-breathing beasts that are so popular to battle. They represent evil, challenges, and obstacles of every kind.

Life is often difficult, tiring, and frustrating. So from an outside perspective, one may wonder why tabletop games are a chosen form of escapism when some games increase your heart rate from stress, bring tears to your eyes, leave your hands shaking, and involve intense arguments between characters.

Perhaps that is the beauty of the cathartic experience. It is an opportunity to unleash emotion in a safe environment. For those of us that are empathic and can really dig deep into a character, it is also a chance to explore another person’s mind and how they view their own struggles and triumphs. And we struggle and triumph with them.

While in real life is not always feasible to defeat our own dragons, and sometimes we have to accept an apology that was never given, or a “plot” that was never resolved. And move on. But in games we get to face these challenges head on. And we get to resolve them.

An outside perspective may have someone curious why a player would endure their own character suffering and breaking down. But I think I know why. Because you can’t appreciate how high the highs are if you don’t experience how low the lows can get. Victory is made sweeter if you once tasted defeat.

And perhaps because we also cling onto that hope ourselves. That no matter how bad things get, and no matter how deeply we feel it will never get better, tabletop games show us the dragon can be beaten. And in our own lives, it gives us the strength and the courage to take that next step.


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