With a whole generation of kids raised on the Harry Potter
series, it is not so surprising that Dungeons and Dragons and other
fantasy role playing games-known as RPGs for short-are making a
In my house, sleepovers no longer just include sleeping bags,
but jars of colorful dice and rule books.
There seems to be a trend here. Earlier this year Cat &
Mouse Game Store, 2212 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, started a regular
kids' D&D night.
Although Joni Jacobsen's 10-year-old son, Walker, serves as the
Dungeon Master, she admits she and her husband never played D&D
until Walker began doing research. He recruited his 8-year-old
brother into the game and began looking for a group of other kids
to play with.
About six or seven boys are D&D regulars at the game store,
but groups of girls have shown up, either joining the boys or
setting up their own game.
Jacobsen admits to being a bit unsure at first about D&D for
her young sons. While one mission called for saving two children
from a burning building, sometimes players take the role of a "bad
guy" in different scenarios. But Jacobsen says she uses the game to
talk about choices. For example, if you need information from
peasants during a game, what might be the most ethical way to go
But for Walker it is just fun.
"I like the role playing and the math-you have to add up points
and damage," he says.
He also likes to give his characters quirks so that weeks later
other players will remember what he did.
Beth Heile, an assistant manager at the store and a full-time
teacher, agrees that D&D has benefits. Children "learn
important life skills: cooperative teamwork, communication, problem
solving and imagination. You could argue that video games-even the
fantasy ones-would not give you those skills."
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