How can tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) promote social growth in their players?

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Critical Growth How can tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) promote social growth in their players?

Dr Susannah Emery
Dr Michele Jarldorn

This report was commissioned by Minds at Play and developed by the University of South Australia with the support of Minds at Play.

This report explores some of the research surrounding the use of Tabletop Role Playing Games (TTRPGs) to promote social growth in their players. It examines the possibility of using TTRPGs to promote stronger relationships between neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals through promoting a deeper understanding of alternative ways of seeing the world.

We explore this through a discussion of the literature in this area and a process inspired by the scoping review approach to analysing academic literature. We undertook a cooperative approach with a diverse research team modelled from the idea of TTRPG playing. This process found a lot of positive research exploring the use of TTRPGs (particularly Dungeons & Dragons) for therapeutic intervention, however we found there was a lack of research into the area of TTRPGs for social growth, and for cross neurotype relationship development. 

The development of a neurodiverse research team inspired by TTRPG parties was an extremely positive aspect to this process, and we recommend that future work in this area should be undertaken by diverse teams.

We found many of the attributes embodied in the design of TTRPGs are elements that work towards promoting positive social growth and suggest further research be undertaken into exploring this area.